Highways and airports across the nation will be filled today and throughout the next week with people going to visit family and friends for the holidays.

But for some, holiday travel isn’t an option. So many area agencies, including Logansport Memorial Hospital and assisted living facilities like McKinney House, bring the Christmas celebration to the people they serve with festive decorations, holiday programs and special meals.

Jodie Jackson, a qualified medication aid at McKinney House, said the facility has some residents whose family members come to take them home for an afternoon, but many either cannot leave or do not have family to take them.

Both McKinney House and Memorial Hospital have had church groups, school classes and volunteer organizations visiting throughout the past week to spend time with patients who cannot go home for Christmas.

“We’ve had different church groups come in and sing and carol. Sometimes family members will come in and sing and carol up and down the halls,” said Jackson.

Visitors are a highlight for the residents, Jackson said. Many adults bring children and pets dressed in festive outfits, which usually raises the mood.

“It delights them. They love to see little children. They love pets. They love any kind of entertainment.”

The holidays can sometimes be depressing for residents who don’t have friends or family that visit, said Jackson. So more than just holiday celebrations, she said having someone come in to play games or receiving a card in the mail can brighten their spirits.

Jackson said McKinney House also has special activities planned throughout the season, including a tree trimming party.

Jackson and Jeanette Huntoon, chief executive nurse at Logansport Memorial Hospital, both said the facilities would be serving a special meal to the residents today to help them celebrate Christmas. Both also welcome visitors around the clock so that residents can observe the holidays with their families and friends at their own convenience.

“We just try to make it family friendly,” said Huntoon. “We’re real flexible. If they have people coming in, we can have family meals. Basically, if they have a need, we try to meet it.”

Many facilities also make special allowances for their employees that have to work the holidays. Jackson said the employees of McKinney House will all wear Christmas outfits today while Huntoon said Memorial Hospital will serve a Christmas dinner to all shifts on Christmas.

But not all agencies will provide a Christmas celebration for their charges.

At the Cass County Jail, things for the most part will be business as usual today, said Sgt. Patrick Zeider.

Though jail employees often bring in special items on Christmas to share with their coworkers, inmates are allowed very limited recognition of the holidays.

For safety reasons, no decorations are allowed inside the jail. And while a meal will be prepared and served to the inmates by the kitchen staff, the food won’t be much different from what they receive on any other day.

There is also no family visitation allowed on Christmas. Visitation will resume on Wednesday from 4:30 to 9 p.m.

“There’s a strict schedule they keep to and they don’t deviate from it, even for holidays,” said Zeider.

Carla Knapp can be contacted at (574) 732-5150 or via e-mail at carla.knapp@pharostribune.com

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