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A Paycheck of the Heart

A homegrown nonprofit offers gifts and fellowship to a vulnerable group during the holiday season.

It is easy for us to go about the holiday season assuming everyone is sharing precious moments with loved ones, but Sallie Brown, a senior sales director for Mary Kay Cosmetics, uncovered an unfortunate truth—that many senior citizens in our region don't receive a lot, if any, visitors during this time of year.


“I started out seven years ago wanting to expand my business by giving to people who would most likely never be invited to a Mary Kay party due to their living environment,” said Brown.


What she discovered was that her gifts and accompanying musical performance were the highlight of many seniors' holiday. "It was heart wrenching," she said. "I resolved to make it an annual event and to try and reach as many people as I could."

As the years passed, Brown expanded her effort and established a nonprofit: Adopt-a-Grandparent. This program, supported by donations and a team of helpers, brings Christmas carols and stockings stuffed with gifts to older people in residential/assisted living homes in East County.


Brown asks for $25 donations per grandparent to provide a Christmas stocking filled with a hand cream, foot cream, socks, a teddy bear, and candy. With community and business support Brown and her crew provide these gifts to the elderly whose families are absent in their lives. They intentionally select the lower-end facilities where the residents have very little contact with their families and/or the outside world.


“It is a paycheck of the heart,” Brown said when asked why she runs the program. “There are a lot of concrete things we can get in life, but a paycheck of the heart is what we receive when we do for others."


Brown encourages anyone who would like to carol with her to come to the holiday parties. Anyone who would like to donate money for this year’s Adopt-a-Grandparent gifts or wants more information may It is easy for us to go about the holiday season assuming everyone is sharing precious moments with loved ones, but Sallie Brown, a senior sales director for Mary Kay Cosmetics, uncovered an unfortunate truth—that many senior citizens in our region don't receive a lot, if any, visitors during this time of year.


“I started out seven years ago wanting to expand my business by giving to people who would most likely never be invited to a Mary Kay party due to their living environment,” said Brown.

What she discovered was that her gifts and accompanying musical performance were the highlight of many seniors' holiday. "It was heart wrenching," she said. "I resolved to make it an annual event and to try and reach as many people as I could."

As the years passed, Brown expanded her effort and established a nonprofit: Adopt-a-Grandparent. This program, supported by donations and a team of helpers, brings Christ­mas carols and stockings stuffed with gifts to older people in residen­tial/assisted living homes in East County.


Brown asks for $25 donations per grandparent to provide a Christmas stocking filled with a hand cream, foot cream, socks, a teddy bear, and candy. With community and business support Brown and her crew provide these gifts to the elderly whose families are absent in their lives. They intentionally select the lower-end facilities where the residents have very little contact with their families and/or the outside world.


“It is a paycheck of the heart,” Brown said when asked why she runs the program. “There are a lot of concrete things we can get in life, but a paycheck of the heart is what we receive when we do for others."


Brown encourages anyone who would like to carol with her to come to the holiday parties. Anyone who would like to donate money for this year’s Adopt-a-Grandparent gifts or wants more information may vis­it www.adoptagrandparentusa.com.