Seniors in Acres Homes attend a Houston Police Department event where they receive meals and heaters ahead of the chilly holiday. Ashley Brown / Houston Public Media

As the chilly holiday weekend approaches, the Houston Police Department wants seniors in Houston to feel the holiday joy and feel safe from the cold. Some senior citizens in the Acres Homes neighborhood got an early start on the holiday weekend.

HPD’s Youth Police Advisory Council, a program for local high school students along with leaders from HPD, gathered with senior citizens on Thursday at the Acres Homes Multi-Service Center. They were given meals, gifts, and took part in a range of activities to keep them busy.

Rhonda Holmes is the program director and she said people often forget about the seniors during the holiday season.

“We usually find out the seniors are alone and so we just like to bring them together and have a celebration with them,” she said.

This is the seventh year HPD has held the event and Holmes said it was important to partner seniors and youth together.

“What a great way to show leadership and what a great way to teach leadership,” she said. “Because you can’t really know about your future, if you don’t know about your history – and so our seniors can tell them about history, to help them with their future.”

17-year-old Jayla Harmon has been a part of the Youth Police Advisory Council for a year. She attends C.E. King High School in Northeast Houston. She said she didn’t know what to expect out of the program when she first signed up, but she’s glad she did.

“What I like about it is that I get to come together with a bunch of people and get to know them and become friends with them and learn a lot of information that I can take back to my community,” she said.

Harmon said she was excited for the event with the seniors.

“Just getting to know them, have fun, and play games with them,” she said.

Gloria Rodriguez is a senior who attended the event and said she’s grateful for the interaction with others.

“I’m happy to be here, I’m blessed, and I thank y’all for coming out here and blessing me and everybody here.”

Rodriguez was overwhelmed with joy and what HPD was doing for the seniors in her community.

“It’s just a blessing,” she said. “I wouldn’t be no other place but here – than Acres Homes – this is my home, my community and I hope we will always be blessed.”

With freezing temperatures in Houston over the next few days, seniors were given blankets, space heaters, and other household essentials to help them get through the cold safely.