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Parish 8th graders bring Christmas cheer to elders
Posted 12/04/2015 01:18PM

Just past the bustling hair salon and down the hall at Highland Springs retirement community in Dallas, residents are busy creating some holiday cheer by the fireplace. 8th graders from Parish Episcopal School are pitching in too, helping them make colorful bow wreaths and other Christmas crafts they can enjoy this month. Both students and residents are enjoying the break in their regular routine.

“You just like getting out of school,” jokes a resident.

“Well maybe a little,” admits Winston, Class of 2020. “But I’m also having fun making these bows.”

Parish 8th graders visit the elders once a month as part of their focus on service.

“We learn things about them and their life stories, said Becky Crawford, Director of Experiential Education & Community Service for 3rd – 8th grade. “While we do that, we also create crafts with them. We like to do something they can take back to their apartments. They just feel they’re really special,” she added.

It’s the third year for Parish 8th graders to work with the elders at Highland Springs. During that time, students have met retired teachers, artists, professionals and a former astronaut. They’ve even come across some Parish grandparents.

“It’s a nice connection,” said Crawford. “It allows 8th graders to look beyond themselves and gain an understanding of people’s life history. They also understand what’s coming down the road for them in life.”

“I like it. It’s fun helping them out. It’s nice to see them so happy,” said Grant, Class of 2020.

Grant is helping two elders cut and twist ribbons into bows to tie on green wreaths. Next up: owls made out of pine cones, felt and googly eyes.

“It’s nice to bring them some joy, especially when they don’t get to see their families,” added Grant.

Many of the residents have grandchildren of their own, but are always happy to visit with their Parish friends.

“I enjoy working with the kids,” noted resident Norma Albert.

Albert, who joins the activities whenever Parish comes to help, is creating a blue, silver and gold wreath for her door. Across the table sits resident Margaret Lawrence who is busy inspecting her red, green and silver wreath. She reaches out and pats the hand of Parish student Rachel.

“I like my little helper here. She’s doing most of the work,” said Lawrence.

Another resident pops by to check out the crafts. She’s on her way to exercise class so she can’t stay, but she asks the students if they’ll make her a red and silver wreath. They promise to do so.

“I just hope they have a good time and have a fun experience; something out of their normal routine,” said Katie, Class of 2020. “It’s a treat for them,” she added.

The Parish Midway campus will be treated to a visit from Highland Spring residents in May. They’ll explore the campus and talk with students. Plus, they’ll enjoy dance performances and a sing-a-long to music from the 40’s and 50’s.

“It’s a great way to finish the year,” said Crawford.

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