“When you have a chance to make someone’s day a bit brighter, your day brightens up too,” Naples Elementary School teacher Karen Rodgers said.
Rodgers’s fifth grade students have been making holiday cards for the residents of the Sunrise Senior Living Center in Seal Beach. She said she wants her students to give the seniors a “symbolic hug.”
The youngsters are working from home, but they have been collaborating and sharing ideas through group Zoom sessions. As they find ways to help others, the students are finding their own spirits lifted.
“I feel glad, I feel creative and like I am spreading joy,” 10-year-old Olivia Corzine said. “It’s a good feeling.”
Olivia said she plans to make four or five cards. She has already completed a snowman-shaped card and an outer space holiday card, decorated with glitter. She said she hopes the people who receive her cards will “smile all day.”
“I think they are likely scared, since they are vulnerable.” Olivia said. “They are probably lonely also, since they can't see their family. That's why this is so important.”
Wendy Corzine, Olivia’s mom, said the card-making has sparked a lot of conversation in their house.
“Olivia does have a new awareness as a result of this project,” Corzine said. “Olivia seems energized and excited to be helpful from our dining room. As a parent, I love seeing that!”
Barry Christman, the father of fifth grader Brady Christman-Kelley, voiced similar sentiments.
“Our family has weekly video calls with grandparents in other states and we discuss how important it is for them to be safe during these times,” Christman said. “This project helped him (Brady) spread holiday joy to others that may not be able to see loved ones during the holidays.”
Brady said he wants his cards to bring happiness to those who may not be able to see their family.
“I hope they will feel happy, loved and thankful,” Brady said.
Fifth grader Isla Moeck said she intends to make 30 unique holiday cards for seniors.
“COVID has affected senior citizens in many ways,” Isla said. “They are isolated and cannot even see friends and family through this challenging time because they are at high risk. They are lacking social interaction more than all of us. I feel very bad for them and so does the fifth grade, so we are trying to brighten their days with some holiday cheer.”
Isla’s mother, Heather Moeck, said that firsthand experience helped Isla understand seniors’ needs on a personal level.
“We were very close to my grandmother, who has passed but lived in an assisted living center in Pennsylvania,” Moeck said. “Her experiences visiting there have led to conversations about senior citizens lacking social contact during this challenging time.”
“I hope when they open my card they will feel appreciated,” Isla said, “and that it will take them back to all of their wonderful memories with their friends and family.”