South Jordan students serve seniors, veterans
For years, American Heritage of South Jordan cleaned its school, seen here, during Spring Service Day. However, this year, older students visited senior living residencies while younger students made cards for the honor flight. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
Sophomore Aidan McFall appreciated visiting seniors at assisted living residences as part of American Heritage of South Jordan’s 12th annual Spring Service Day.
He and about 120 other sixth- through 12th-grade students spent time talking to seniors on April 28.
“It was cool how each had their own stories about how they grew up, what jobs they had and just talked about their lives with us,” Aidan said about the Pheasant Run Alzheimer’s Special Care residents he met. “I learned a lot from them, and they gave me good advice about going to college, getting a good job and going after my dreams. Helping other people and stepping out of our comfort zone is good for us— just being there, showing our compassion, our humanity.”
Talking with seniors at four area senior assisted living residencies and spending time getting to know them was the goal behind Spring Service Day for the older students, said teacher Lisa Faletti, who advises the 13-member student ambassador group who coordinated the day’s activities.
“We wanted to have students give something of themselves to get to know these older people in the community,” Faletti said. “We wanted them to learn about them and know how important service is.”
The school’s 200 younger students wrote letters to those who served in the military, many decorated with patriotic pictures. These veterans will open the letters aboard Honor Flights, flights dedicated for United States military veterans to see the memorials of the respective wars they fought in Washington, D.C.
“These students learned about the honor flight, what the veterans will see and how mail is given to them on board. Many of our students’ letters will fill in the gaps of those who have little or no letters from families or friends,” she said.
During last year’s Spring Service Day, students made about 300 hygiene kits for local women’s and children’s shelters as well as for refugees from the Chilean earthquake. In years past, they’ve done a clean-up day at the school.
This year, junior Josh Faletti said he appreciated going beyond the school into the community to an assisted living center.
“It was cool to meet with these funny, cute older people and to hear about their lives,” he said. “I had heard about Alzheimer’s, but hadn’t really gotten to know anyone with it. So being there shed some light on how their lives are different, and I became more emphatic to those who have it and whose family members have it. They’re still good people but not always on the same plane.”
Senior Bret Daniels and junior Caleb Wallin went to Carrington Court where they not only interacted with residents, but part of their group put on an impromptu performance where a student danced and choir members sang. They also distributed blankets that were donated by a teacher’s church group. Others did similar service work at the senior community Sagewood at Daybreak,
“I mostly hung out with a resident named Jim,” Bret said. “He was awesome. He told me he had been in two wars (World War II and Korea) and ran a bunch of marathons, including in Boston, New York, St. George and Florida. He had been mountain climbing a bunch of the mountain peaks here. It made me realize he had done so much, and I hadn’t done much. It changed my perspective, and it was refreshing to hear his stories.”
His schoolmate, junior Brock Dawson, went to The Lodge at Riverton where he played bingo with seniors.
“They were so excited to meet us and talk to us,” he said. “I’m glad we went, as it brightened their day.”