For Just a Moment: The Making of a Very Do Good December
Two years ago was the last time Facilitator Sarah Shay stepped foot in Sunrise Senior Living in Yorba Linda, California — before her grandmother passed away from Alzheimer’s. While it would be easy to imagine this place carrying painful and difficult memories, it also involves very happy ones. It is those happier times with her grandmother and other residents and staff that inspired her class’s Do Good December service project.
“My grandmother would light up when I visited her, as did all of the residents,” said Ms. Shay. “It is too easy to discount how much these simple visits — these moments in their day — mean to the people that live there.”
It took only her story to get students on board. They were “all in” to help bring joy to residents this holiday season. Students spent several hours planning, making gifts, and preparing their visit. Then, on a Saturday morning in December, they gathered at the center to bring the donated gifts and to spread some joy. One student even dressed up as Santa to pass out stuffed animals.
Those “moments” Ms. Shay spoke about came into focus as soon as the students walked through the door. “You could *feel* their joy; they completely lit up…just because we were there. I can’t describe how it felt to make just this one moment possible for them,” described Madilyne.
The pillows students poured their hearts into making — super-soft, perfect-sized rectangles — were a huge hit. Residents were pressing them to their faces, smiling, and placing them where they needed them — under an arm, behind their back, on their laps. “It was pretty much the best reaction you could hope for,” said Ms. Shay. “But the stuffed animals, they were probably the most fun!”
One resident who received a stuffed Lambchop character stood out to student Madilyne. The lamb included the words, “I need a hug” on its chest. It was an invitation and an opportunity. “She was asking everyone for a hug,” laughed Madilyne. “I don’t think she missed anyone; it was so incredibly sweet.”
This was one of those events in which a parent could have simply dropped their child off, but something told parent Ryan Bent to stay. And he’s glad he did. A city-councilman, he is no stranger to community service, but seeing his daughter’s generation take on a project like this was something else. “Our country needs more leaders and more community. I wish every high school student had the chance to do something like this,” said Ryan.