Gateway Christian 10th-graders Anila Velasquez and Cayleb Pack, along with fellow students, bring holiday cheer to the residents of Beehive Homes, Wednesday. Mark Wilson Photo
Students of Gateway Christian School spread holiday cheer throughout the city Wednesday.
Middle and high school students visited six different nursing homes and delivered stockings filled with treats for the residents, before singing Christmas favorites such as “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.” In the stockings are socks, stuffed animals, lotions, and hot chocolate.
Gateway teacher Debbie Tavarez accompanied 12th-graders to Sunset Villa Care Center and said the sole purpose was to be a blessing to others this holiday season, especially those who may not normally receive visitors.
“It’s important for these young kids to understand the loneliness that the older people sometimes feel,” she said. “[It’s important for them] just to come in and say ‘hi,’ just come in and say ‘Merry Christmas,’ just to come in and pray with them and let them know that somebody loves them. And that’s what it teaches them.”
Nancy Perez, community life director of Sunset Villa, is in charge of planning daily activities for the residents. She said she always enjoys seeing the smiles on all the residents’ faces as different groups deliver gifts and interact with them.
“It’s heartwarming, because it brings a smile to their faces and it makes their day special,” she said. “There’s always the emotion of joy to be able to have the community come in and interact with the elderly and make their holiday just as special, as if they were at home.”
She added that, thankfully, traffic through the center is high this time of year as churches, schools and even bands stop by to bring a little bit of holiday cheer and residents thoroughly enjoy the visits.
“They love the entertainment,” she said. “They love listening to music, singing, the gifts, it just makes their day. A lot of them they have collections, so they love the little teddy bears…the response is always a great turnout whenever we have visitors from the community or volunteers. It’s always a big success.”