Junior jumpstarts Adopt-a-Resident program


Nomin-Erdene Jagdagdorj

For Christmas this year, junior Sophi Farid wants sweatpants, pastel cardigans, soft, plastic baby dolls and a teething ring.
Actually, she wants items like those en masse, but not for herself.
Farid has dedicated her holiday spirit this December to the residents at the Southhampton Place nursing home, where she volunteers as a core leader for Rock Bridge Reaches Out. Farid visited each of the 80 residents, or a nurse if appropriate, to ask what he or she wanted for Christmas, from the youngest resident, age 74, to the oldest, age 103.
“I’ve gotten recently more and more attached to the people there, and so what I really want to do this year is get them all Christmas gifts,” Farid said. “Seeing the conditions that they’re in, and seeing the same people, and seeing them smile just made me really happy, and so I wanted to be able to do something that would change their lives and at least make them appreciate stuff a little bit more.”
Chemistry teacher Gregory Kirchhofer noticed how simple the requests were as he decided which resident to adopt. Farid had made a paper Christmas tree, off of which hung all 80 residents’ names and gift requests. Farid stood nearby, suggesting which residents Kirchhofer might especially like, as well as elaborating on the design of a t-shirt, for example, a certain resident would especially appreciate.
“I’m not sure [who to pick],” Kirchhofer says. “I see a lot of people who want pajamas and long sleeved button up sweaters and nightgowns, which makes me worry about the people there. Are they all cold?”
“Yeah,” Farid replies. “ A couple of them wanted blankets, but those already got taken.”
“So maybe if I can warm up an old person’s day with pajamas or blankets,” Kirchhofer said, “that would be nice.”
He settles keep consistant tenses on an elderly man with a more unique request — suspenders. Kirchhofer says he will relish in finding a nice pair for him.
Farid has also asked her peers to adopt residents. Wheelers and Dealers, the group in RBRO that goes to the nursing home, will also hold bake sales and ask for donations in case someone forgets or no longer wants to buy a gift. She hopes students will follow through, especially because the gifts are easy purchases. Members of Wheelers and Dealers, as well as other RBRO volunteers, will gather to wrap the gifts before delivering them to the nursing home next Friday, Dec. 21 for their Christmas party.
RBRO sponsor Kathryn Fishman-Weaver said that Farid came to her with the idea, and after brainstorming, Farid “took off.” She has “taken it upon herself” to make sure each resident receives a present, Fishman-Weaver said.
“I think that through programs like this we can really see students connecting with the community, that they’re … taking that additional initiative to connect with people in the community, and to find out what their real needs are,” Fishman-Weaver said. “I think it’s mutually beneficial. So I hope that the people who receive the gifts find joy not only in the gifts they receive, but also in being thought of by a young person. … For the gift givers, one, I hope that they think more about our elderly community. Two, I hope they find that fulfillment that comes from doing something nice for someone else, and that that sort of spreads out in their life. … This time of year, especially, that personal care is really nice.”
By Nomin-Erdene Jagdagdorj
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