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"SENIORS HELPING SENIORS": Lehigh Acres contest helps seniors pay bills

Posted at 4:47 PM, Apr 23, 2024

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla — A splash of paint is making a big difference in Lehigh Acres as seniors gather for a community cause.

The Lehigh Acres Senior Center is hosting its third annual barrel painting contest, aimed at supporting local seniors struggling to pay their water bills.

The contest, which began Monday in collaboration with Lehigh Community Services and FGUA, aims not only to raise awareness but also serves as a therapy session for seniors, the organizers say.

The theme of this year’s contest is “Save Water Today for a Greener Tomorrow.”

"This is promoting community spirit," explained Brogan, a contestant who designed a Spanish-inspired barrel.

Brogan said her upbringing and love for gardening inspired her to participate. "Lehigh is a small town. I grew up in a small town. I just think anything that promotes unity is a good thing," she added.

Kevin Lavarnway, another participant, emphasized the community aspect of the event.

"This is something I took up about three days ago," he said. Lavarnway painted a tropical beach-inspired picture he found on Google.

"I don’t consider myself really an artist. We’re just here to support the program and see if we can get some money back in for the folks who will be needing it," he explained.

Last year, the senior center raised $3,800 through sponsors and auctioning off painted barrels. They expect each barrel can be auctioned for more than $100.

"The seniors absolutely love painting the barrels. They find it to be extremely relaxing and very therapeutic," said Donna Lizotte with FGUA.

“We are immensely grateful to our sponsors of this contest, including Coca Cola, who donated the barrels and the conversion kits; Sherwin Williams, who donated the paint, and US Water, who donated the prize money,” said Lizotte.

The contest ends on Thursday, but there are still 8 more barrels ready to be painted, Lizotte said.

Bidding will take place April 29 – May 3 at