Casino employee remembers her grandparents; organizes gift delivery

The final deliveries will be made today and Thursday for recipients of Meals on Wheels who will receive New Year's gifts along with their regular meals.

The gifts were donated by Horizon Casino Resort and Mont Bleu Resort Casino and Spa in Stateline, after an employee who used to have grandparents in the Meals on Wheels program went to her employers with her idea. Horizon's executive administrative assistant Gina Gannatal put together 136 gift bags to take to the Douglas County Senior Center on Dec. 26.

"My grandparents were in the same program," said Gannatal. "Basically, I know how important it is. I just needed to be a part of it. I asked my employers to get involved."

Gannatal's grandparents Harry and Ethel Gannatal, Douglas County residents for 31 years, were on the program from 2001-2006. Her grandfather died in November 2003 at age 93, and her grandmother lived until January 2006 when she was 96.

"The looks on their faces when they would get packages," said Gannatal, "that little bit of something to make a twinkle in their eye. It's very touching."

Gannatal went to Mont Bleu hotel manager Patrick Basney, his executive assistant Anna Siebaldi and casino managers Mike Jones with Mont Bleu and Gonzolo Hernandez with the Horizon, to get their support to purchase knit hats, scarves, socks and large chocolate bars for each of the homebound seniors.

"My goal was no matter what we do, make sure everyone got something," said Gannatal.

"The seniors, they're often forgotten," she said. "Doing this program here made a lot of people aware we do have seniors and they do need extra attention at the holidays."

The deliveries went on their regularly scheduled days, first to Minden and Gardnerville on Thursday, to the Gardnerville Ranchos on Friday, then to Stateline, Topaz Ranch Estates, Indian Hills and the Johnson Lane area this week.

Gordon Moseley, with the Meals on Wheels program since March, and a volunteer, Chuck Grove, who started delivering about a month ago, were loading two vans with the gift bags at the senior center on Friday.

Moseley said delivering "extras" with the frozen meals really helps cheer people up.

"They're delighted. They light up. They're so happy," said Moseley. "It's really hard when you're all by yourself. You feel like no one cares. It chokes me up when I think about it. Someday I might be there, too.

"You get to know these people on a very personal basis. I can tell if there's something wrong. I get to know their dogs. A lot of the time they're waiting for me."

"I didn't know how gratifying it would be," said Grove. "It was like they didn't even know about Christmas (until we got there). I see myself in about 30 years."


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