When Stacy Gillard asked her second-grade students how they wanted to give back this holiday season, one student spoke up about a local nursing home that could use some love, and it sparked an arts and crafts project through the school to brighten the spirits of the residents at the Royal Nursing Home of Fairhaven.

“Every year, we try to do something to give back,” Gillard said. “And this year, we wanted to make it more personal.” When her students at Holy Family Holy Name in New Bedford began to brainstorm, they wanted to go Christmas caroling around town, but unfortunately, the pandemic makes that hard to pull off.

That’s when a student named Juliana raised her hand and told the class a story that her mother, Christina, shared with her. She said her mother works at the Royal Nursing Home and the residents don’t get to be with their families for the holidays.

“They have to wheel them to a window so they can see a family member outside, and it makes them really sad,” Juliana said to her teacher.

The students decided that they would bring some joy to the residents by making Christmas wreaths.

Gillard explained how she sent home a newsletter, asking for decoration donations and she was overwhelmed by the response from families.

“The first graders joined in, too, because we had so many decorations," she said. "We took over the gymnasium, and the space was big enough that the students could take off their masks, so we spread out, played Christmas music, and the kids had a blast doing it."

Courtesy Stacy Gillard
Courtesy Stacy Gillard

Christina, the student’s mom that works at the nursing home, dropped off the wreaths the day before Thanksgiving, and now the class anxiously awaits to hear back from the residents.

A child’s heart is so beautiful and caring. These students seem to be so in tune with the struggles that families are facing this year at such a young age. I just wish I could have been at the nursing home that day to see the looks on the residents’ faces when they received their personalized wreaths. I imagine that they felt a little less lonely that day.

Light Up SouthCoast 2020

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