Cristina Puzio, left, and seniors at Casa Maravilla before the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: Cristina Puzio

PILSEN — A group of Pilsen residents are seeking donations to make Christmas baskets for seniors at Casa Maravilla.

Lifelong Pilsen resident Cristina Puzio decided she wanted to direct her attention to seniors for the holidays instead of hosting a toy drive for children, which she typically does.

“Seniors are often overlooked,” said Puzio, who has led mediation classes at the Casa Maravilla Senior Center, 2021 S. Morgan St., for three years. “Seniors are going through everything we are experiencing.”

Older residents have been among the hardest hit throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Under the circumstances, they have been largely “isolated” and “feel lonely,” Puzio said.

“We want to make them feel they are being thought of and brighten up their day,” she said.

Puzio is working alongside Lauren Angeles, Selena Sandoval, Paulina Roe, Mayra Ramirez and Rosa Esquivel to get donations for the baskets. 

The group wants to put together 122 baskets for seniors by Dec. 20 to be delivered by Christmas Eve, Puzio said.

They need new hats, scarves, gloves, scented candles, Eucalyptus essential oil, stress balls, coffee mugs, coloring books, colored pencils and Christmas ornaments. A full list can be found here.

Instituto Health Science Career Academy students involved with the Association of American Latin Students club will create handmade Christmas cards to accompany the baskets, Puzio said.

Donations can be dropped off 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays at Pilsen Alliance, 1744 W. 18th St.

The group is also taking monetary donations so they can buy the items. If they exceed 122 baskets’ worth of goods, they plan to distribute baskets to others in the community, Puzio said.

Puzio hopes their plan “inspires others to think about the seniors in their lives — their family, community and neighbors.”

Beyond the holidays, Puzio said she plans on organizing more outreach and community care efforts for seniors.

“It would be nice to keep them in mind when we are trying to do things in the community,” Puzio said.

Anyone interested in donating can contact Cristina Puzio at

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Pilsen, Little Village and West Loop reporterrnrnmauricio@blockclubchi.orgnnPilsen, Little Village and West Loop Twitter @MauricioPena