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Nursing home resident receives belated Christmas visit, gift

WORTHINGTON -- Christmas came three days later for Dottie MacNeill, but she was by no means complaining. MacNeill, a resident of South Shore Care Center in Worthington, eagerly awaits Christmas each year and always looks forward to seeing Santa C...

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Dottie MacNeill, a 94-year-old resident of South Shore Care Center in Worthington, shows off her new red sweater while sitting with a special friend Wednesday morning. (Submitted photo)

WORTHINGTON - Christmas came three days later for Dottie MacNeill, but she was by no means complaining.

MacNeill, a resident of South Shore Care Center in Worthington, eagerly awaits Christmas each year and always looks forward to seeing Santa Claus, explained Suzan Wellendorf, activity director at South Shore. This year, though, MacNeill wasn’t as lucky - initially, at least.

“I fell and broke my hip,” MacNeill said of the morning of Dec. 22, the day Santa was slated to visit the skilled nursing facility. “I was in Sioux Falls for a few days, and they were so good to me there.”

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Now back at South Shore, MacNeill was greeted Wednesday morning with a surprise - Santa had come to see her, and had also brought a gift. Even at age 94, she couldn’t help but be delighted.

“I’m only a kid,” MacNeill said with a laugh, explaining her affinity for Jolly Old St. Nick. “I had wanted a red sweater and I got a beautiful one, too. I also got a new mug, too.”

MacNeill, originally from the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, has lived in Worthington for several years. She called The Atrium home for a few years but felt like she needed to move following Rosie Rogers’ retirement from the Worthington Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

“I got shipped here and that was a very good thing,” MacNeill said.

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That move to South Shore Care Center has brought multiple Merry Christmases, she added. Last year, she was given the gift of a blue sweatshirt that she was wearing Wednesday. Her present - not to mention those given to others at the facility - arrive each year courtesy of Bedford Technology of Worthington.

“Bedford Technology is generous enough to bring gifts to our residents,” Wellendorf said. “They do a lot for our residents, let me tell you.”

Just what did MacNeill when she spotted Santa - the alter-ego of South Shore employee Butch Engerson - for her Wednesday morning?

“She said, ‘Come over here, old boy, and sit down,’” Wellendorf said, chuckling.

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MacNeill is hoping to obtain a white pair of pants when warmer weather arrives to complement the new sweater. She admits to being “really fussy,” but quickly pointed out that Wednesday’s surprise was “beautiful” and made her “very happy.” Life, she added, is just great in her current home.

 

“I still do all the things I have always done,” MacNeill said with a smile, “but I'm a little slower.”

Ryan McGaughey arrived in Worthington in April 2001 as sports editor of The Daily Globe, and first joined Forum Communications Co. upon his hiring as a sports reporter at The Dickinson (North Dakota) Press in November 1998. McGaughey became news editor in Worthington in November 2002 and editor in August 2006.
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