Bringing Some Holiday Cheer to Our Elderly

Rose Mary Leggio, owner of Cucina di Rosa, 1620 N. Bell School Road, is using her boundless energy to serve her customers and the community in spite of – and because of – the pandemic.

Tops on her list is an effort to collect baby dolls for the elderly living in skilled nursing facilities. Her hope is to collect enough dolls (and money to buy them) for Christmas presents for 140 residents at P.A. Peterson at the Citadel, 1311 Parkview Ave. Donations after Christmas will go to other facilities, as needed.

“I’m doing this in memory of my grandmother, who died at 101 and is still my guardian angel,” she says. “I’m doing this because all these people in senior living places haven’t been able to see their families and their grandkids during the pandemic and when they hold a baby doll it gives them comfort and reminds them of their own children.”

Leggio saw a Facebook post from friend Nancy Arbisi Gioppo, who works at P. A. Peterson, asking for dolls for residents. She was so moved by the need, she decided to join the effort to collect them. First, she asked if a collection of stuffed animals in excellent condition would help, and Gioppo welcomed them.

“Dolls for Golden Dolls” is the name of the ongoing fundraiser started by Leggio. She’ll accept donations of dolls and money at her restaurant through closing time Christmas Eve, when dolls will be delivered to P. A. Peterson as Christmas gifts.

“I hope God will bless us. When I heard about the need, I just felt I had to do something,” says Leggio. “I have a heart for the elderly because my own grandmother was such an inspiration to me.”

A picture of her “Nonna Pauline” hangs in the restaurant. It was by watching Pauline cook that Leggio learned to make the Sicilian dishes featured at her restaurant today.

In addition to food, Italian cookies and homemade gelato, Leggio fills an Italian boutique with items made in Italy and made by local merchants.

“Local businesses need help more than anyone else,” she says, “If everyone does their part, we will all survive. It’s all about helping each other.” ❚