NAMI Shelby County Gives Christmas Gifts to Those Living With Mental Illnesses

Every holiday season for the past seven years, the Shelby County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) puts together a holiday celebration for those living with severe mental illnesses.

As part of the festivities, each participant gets a home-cooked meal and individual stockings filled with gifts. This year there will more than 130 stockings, with gifts going to the residents of the NAMI-affiliated group homes and those who live in supportive housing. There will also be gift bags for those who are too ill to come. Any extras will be given away as gift bags for new residents in 2017.

To help stuff the stockings, the group accepts donations of men and women’s items such as clothing, accessories, personal hygiene items, crafting supplies and non-perishable snack items.

“This program shows the individuals that people in the community care about them,” Sherryl Treslar, who works for the Shelby County, NAMI said. “Not only do they get out of the group home or apartment to attend the event, they receive the stockings at Christmas. Christmas is a day that most of them do hear from their families. They are put away and forgotten.”

The first holiday party, held in 2009, was funded by a handful of NAMI volunteers. “We did not have much money at all so we just invited the residents of the group homes to a little chili supper with all the trimmings and to stuff stocking,” Treslar said. “All of this came out of our pockets so the stockings were rather meager, but we had a great need to give back because we had received so much from our class with the National Alliance on Mental Illness.” 

This year’s party will be held in the main cafeteria of the Shelby Baptist Medical Center on December 13, at 6:30 p.m. “[T]he party has grown each year. The amount of people we serve has grown each year,” Treslar added. “Also last year Mary Giliberti, the Executive Director for NAMI flew in from Washington, D.C. to help stuff the stockings. We considered that an honor.”

Those interested in donating or volunteering can email Sherryl Treslar.

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