Group gives gifts to needy, lonely elderly
By Angela Hill
Staff Writer

OAKLAND — It may have been just a small birthday celebration Friday — a pretty cake and a few bright balloons — but it was a big wish come true for 87-year old Willie Mae Hall.

And that's the point. An Oakland charity group, Kiesha Wright Children's Foundation, is now trying to help the elderly by starting a "wish list' program to give needy seniors something they really need or want, such as a wheelchair, hearing aid — or, something fun, like a birthday party.

"These folks have been so wonderful to me," said Hall, who lives in a senior residence in downtown Oakland. "I know they're just angels from the Lord."

The group's founder, Kiesha Wright, received Oakland's Mother of the Year award in 2000 for her work helping needy children and the homeless.

"There are so many seniors who just don't have anybody to pay any attention to them at all." Wright said, "We just want to help out in even the smallest way, ask them what they need and see if we can get it for them."

This week Wright was delivering "wishes" to some elderly folks as far away as San Mateo — to one lady who needed a new housecoat, and another who wanted a weighing scale.

"For Willie Mae, we promised her a birthday, and that's just what she got," Wright said, hugging Hall.

For the senior program. Wright has been working with a few other agencies, such as as Home Instead Senior Care, which has been trying to arrange donations of wheelchairs and hearing aids. Other organizations have donated shoes and clothing.

And they've helped pinpoint people in need, such as Hall. She hasn't much family around. She was the youngest of 15 children and is the only one left. She had one son, but he was born with heart defects and died at the age of 7.

She is grateful for the time she had with him, though. And for all the blessings in her life. She goes to church at least four times a week.

"I just thank God every day to be alive," she said. "When things look like it's getting dark to me, the Lord opens up doors and brings me friends to help me."

To contact The Kiesha Wright Children's Foundation, call (510) 891 1395