WILMINGTON, MA — Each winter, the Wilmington Department of Public Works makes sand available at the Town Salt Shed off of Federal Street. The sand is for residents only and should only be taken in reasonable amounts.
This winter, the Wilmington Fire Department and Wilmington Senior Center joined forces to launch a pilot program that brings the sand in an easy-to-open bucket to the homes of seniors (60 and over) around town.
The project’s organizers — Fire Prevention Officer Ryan Quigley and Elderly Services Director Terri Marciello — recently gave a brief presentation to the Board of Selectmen last month.
“I was fortunate enough to attend a Fire & Life Safety Conference back in September. One of the sessions I sat in on was about how sand buckets were delivered to senior citizens in Charlton,” said Quigley, explaining the origins of the program. “I reached out to Terri, who thought it was a great idea. She’s dong most of the coordinating and we’ve already had a lot of interest among Wilmington seniors.”
Sand/salt mixture is being taken from the DPW’s salt shed by firefighters, who fill buckets and drop them off at the homes of interested seniors.
“The whole point is safety mitigation — keeping seniors safe in the winter time with icy conditions,” stressed Quigley. “It’s intended for people who would have trouble purchasing a big bag of sand or salt themselves.”
“We’ve had a huge response. More than we ever expected,” said Marciello. “We were originally thinking 25 participants. We’ve extended it to 40. It’s wonderful that people are responding and are so appreciative.”
“I thought the idea for this program was awesome. It’s been simple to set up and get getting. And we get a grant from the state each year for programs just like this,” said Quigley.
The buckets were donated by ACE Hardware and came with a scoop. Easy-to-open bucket lids designed for fishing were purchased from Amazon.
“The program is open to Wilmington residents, age 60 and above,” clarified Quigley. “Seniors need to be capable of spreading the sand themselves with no mobility issues. They must also live in a single family house, not an apartment complex.”
Quigley noted that firefighters would be willing to go around the top off the buckets if they need to be refilled. While dropping off the sand, firefighters would also take the opportunity to engage seniors and — with their permission — look around their homes for fire hazards and check their smoke detectors.
Eligible residents should request a bucket through the Department of Elderly Services by calling 978-657-7595. This is a first come first serve program. One bucket per household.
Selectmen praised the program, each offering comments.
“This is a fine example of another wonderful partnership between departments in town and a local business,” said Selectmen Acting Chair Greg Bendel. “It’s another way to help our residents and another example of going above and beyond.”
“A lot of seniors don’t have transportation, or the finances, or to even lift a bucket like that to put into their vehicle is a lot,” said Selectwoman Judy O’Connell. “I hope it takes off…. It’s a real value-added resource to the town.”
“It sounds like a great program. Congrats on getting it off the ground,” added Selectman Kevin Caira.
Marciello noted that the Fire Department and Elderly Services Department plan to work very closely on other programs in 2022, including “Safety In Your Home” classes for seniors this spring.
Quigley added that the Fire Department and the Elderly Services Department are promoting Files of Life as well.
“The files go on the senior’s refrigerator. It has their emergency contact information, medications listed, and other stuff we can use in an emergency situation in case the person needing help can’t communicate property,” explained Quigley. “It gives first responders the information we may need.”
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