Eyeing the containers filled with glitter, sparkly heart-shaped stickers, markers and crayons as he sat at a cafeteria table and prepared to make Valentine’s Day cards, 5-year-old Noah Westphall declared, “I want it to look beautiful.”
The students in Sally Jeswilkowski’s kindergarten classses at Wylandville Elementary School celebrated Valentine’s Day by creating handmade cards to share with the residents of Country Meadows Nursing Home in Bridgeville.
Making Valentine’s Day cards was part of the 100th day of school celebration organized earlier this week by Jeswilkowski, and parents and grandparents were invited to attend the event and help with activities.
Jeswilkowski’s classes have been making Valentine’s Day cards for seniors for more than 13 years, after residents of a local nursing home made Easter baskets for her elementary school students.
“I thought it was a wonderful gesture, and I wanted to do something to give back,” said Jeswilkowski.
She said Valentine’s Day is about knowing you’re loved and letting others know you love them, so it seemed like a perfect time to remind the elderly in the area that they are cared for.
“We wanted to do something community-based and to encourage the students to think of other people, not just themselves,” said Jeswilkowski. “In this case, we talked about the aging process, what it’s like to get old, and about doing something nice for older people.”
The Canon-McMillan students turned the cafeteria into a Hallmark factory, folding their construction paper and covering the cards with hearts, Xs and Os, flowers and happy messages.
Their masterpieces were given to Country Meadows activities director Kim Uzonyi, who distributed the cards to residents.
It’s never too early to instill the values of compassion and thoughtfulness into children, said Uzonyi, and the seniors are grateful for the homemade cards.
“Every little bit of encouragement and love and warmth helps them to feel vital and respected and appreciated and, most importantly, loved. (The cards) encourage them; it gives them a sense of purpose and well-being because they’re able to participate with the young ones, especially, and recall memories of their own Valentine’s experiences. It warms their hearts,” said Uzonyi. “This is wonderful.”
Six-year-old Lucca Simms was hard a work on a red card with the message “Have a nice day” on the front and a large gold, glitter heart and red foam heart inside.
“You know how someone gets old and they wonder if anybody still cares about them? I’m making a card because I care about everybody and I care about people who are getting old,” said Lucca. “I think they’ll like it and think it’s very, very special.”
As Noah put the finishing touches on one of his cards, he looked it over, pleased. It was beautiful.