Linda Fay (left) and Karen Fitzgerald, volunteer coordinator for Hospice at Home in Buchanan, show off holiday bags put together by volunteers that will be delivered to each hospice patient this season. This year, the bags come with a homemade card made by students at Ottawa Elementary School in Buchanan, Merritt and Brandywine Elementary schools in Niles. (Daily Star Photo/JESSICA SIEFF)
Linda Fay (left) and Karen Fitzgerald, volunteer coordinator for Hospice at Home in Buchanan, show off holiday bags put together by volunteers that will be delivered to each hospice patient this season. This year, the bags come with a homemade card made by students at Ottawa Elementary School in Buchanan, Merritt and Brandywine Elementary schools in Niles. (Daily Star Photo/JESSICA SIEFF)

Archived Story

Students give a special message for Christmas

Published 10:31am Tuesday, December 22, 2009

By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star

Forget no one this holiday season. That is a sentiment found in the work of those at Hospice at Home in Buchanan.

It’s a message one area volunteer passed on to her grandchildren, a message that then traveled through a few of the area’s elementary schools and became evident in the homemade greeting cards made by students at Ottawa Elementary School in Buchanan, Merritt and Brandywine Elementary schools in Niles.

Linda Fay was interested in finding more ways to help out Hospice at Home. She already sews lap coverings for the elderly to help keep them warm.

The organization’s volunteer coordinator, Karen Fitzgerald, said she is always looking for volunteers and told Fay there were many things she could do to help.

“I was talking to my grandsons at first,” Fay said, when she came up with the idea to have them make homemade cards to hand out to hospice patients for the holidays.

“It would teach the kids that there was something better than thinking of themselves,” she said.

The kids quickly got on board, along with various classes at the three area elementary schools.

Fay said she called each of her grandsons’ schools to see if they would be interested in taking part in the project as well.

Soon enough, she had 200 homemade cards to deliver to Hospice at Home.

Hospice at Home puts together holiday bags filled with everything from hand sewn pillows to lotions, coffees, teas, stuffed animals and other gifts for each of their patients, ranging between 40 and 45 in total, each year.

Fitzgerald said she had the cards this year made by the students tied to each back.

They’re simple in design: “happy holidays” printed on the front with a winter scene. But each one is unique, colored in carefully with marker or crayon or pencil, a special message written inside by each student.

“I think especially a lot of your elderly people, they really relate to it,” Fitzgerald said. “There’s a lot of good things that come out of that.”

Fay said the schools have already expressed an interest in doing the project again next year.

“This helped them, I think, with the spirit of the true meaning of Christmas,” Fay said.

The holiday bags are delivered to each patient. They’re put together and provided for by volunteers.
The experience has been a meaningful one on both ends.

“You don’t see many young kids that connect with an older person,” Fitzgerald said. “They might seem little to some people but to them it’s a big thing.”

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