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Contributed photo by Kendra Coulter / Gene Dillingham adds a leaf to the "Thankful Tree" at Summit View Senior Community off of Mountain Creek Road.

Residents of Summit View Senior Community have many reasons to be grateful this holiday season — 250, to be exact.

Throughout the month of November, residents, staff, home health workers and visitors were asked to write things they are thankful for on paper leaves to be added to Summit View's Thankful Tree.

"I am glad I can walk today," reads one of the 250 leaves on the tree.

Several wrote that they are grateful for their children and grandchildren, and others said they are thankful they were able to make a difference in another person's life.

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Contributed photo by Kendra Coulter / Leaves on the "Thankful Tree" at Summit View Senior Community express gratitude for family, health and other things residents, visitors and staff are thankful for.

"The biggest struggle of working with older people, especially around the holidays, is combating loneliness and depression," said Summit View Executive Director Kendra Coulter, as to why she introduced the tree this year. "We are trying to have them all see things half full rather than half empty, and also to remind them that they have a sense of purpose and meaning."

Many residents are still mourning the loss of their homes, which they were accustomed to decorating for the holidays and where they previously hosted get-togethers for family and friends, Coulter said.

While many senior living facilities host Thanksgiving meals several days before the holiday so staff can have the day off, Summit View celebrates on Thanksgiving Day, she added. All the tables in the dining room are pulled together so residents without family visiting don't have to sit at a table alone.

"It gives them something to focus on other than the holiday blues," said Coulter.

Email Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com.

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