VICTORVILLE (news release) – Hearing seniors her grandmother’s age would be spending Christmas without family made 12-year-old Gianna Padilla a little sad. “I love my grandmas very much,” said the Mesa Linda Middle School student. “This kind of reminds me of them.”
Thinking about people alone during the holidays prompted Padilla and her classmates in Joanna Khoo’s 7th grade class to get busy. Soon they, along with other students and staff in the Adelanto Elementary School District had amassed more than 130 holiday cards to give to seniors in Fontana and the high desert.
“The holidays can be a gloomy time of year for seniors, especially if they are alone for the season,” explained Khoo. “I wanted my students to practice empathy and kindness by making holiday cards to brighten up someone’s day.” The project was the brainchild of Ivonne Mateos, an enrollment clerk at the district’s central office.
“I was looking for a volunteer opportunity,” she said. “I went online and found out seniors love handmade Christmas cards. Being a crafty person, I thought this would be an easy project. Then I found out they wanted 200 cards in Fontana.” Realizing this was too big a project to do by herself, Mateos reached out to district schools. Mesa Linda was one of the schools to step forward.
Staff at the George White Senior Center in Fontana expressed gratitude for the project. Every day the center is open approximately 100 seniors come by for meals with another 100 or so have meals delivered to their homes.
“There are some seniors that don’t have any family,” office manager Aurelia Renteria said. “With the cards, they feel special.” Khoo’s students seemed to understand. “If I had to spend Christmas by myself…I would feel kind of sad,” said Ian Beauregard, 12. “If someone gave me a handmade card, it would make me very happy.” The cards had exactly that effect on seniors in the past, Renteria said.
“The seniors were so happy,” she said, adding the center is operated by the Family Service Association . “They loved them.” Khoo’s class has been doing double duty this holiday season. Initially, they made cards for sick patients at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County, but were turned down over fear from hospital staff the cards might spread an infection. So they retooled to remake the cards for seniors.
“I hope they have a merry Christmas,” said 12-year-old Danielle Garibay. “I hope the cards cheer them up.”
After distributing cards in Fontana, Mateos plans on bringing additional cards to convalescent homes in Victorville.