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Students spread cheer

Tamera Manzanares

— Residents’ moods were cheery at The Haven Assisted Living Center on Friday, where they played Yahtzee and crossword puzzle games with Hayden Middle School students.

Between rolls of the dice and crossword clues, a group of seventh- and eighth-graders donning Santa hats sang their best rendition of favorite Christmas carols.

“It cheers everybody up around town,” said Caitlin Mahanna, who was among middle school students who used their last day before Christmas break to do community service projects throughout town.

“It makes everybody happy and gets them in the spirit,” Calla Manzanares added.

The Haven visit was a win-win situation for the residents and students, who volunteer at the center several times a year.

“The more they come, they less they fear aging,” Haven director Karen Burley said. “They know it’s a normal process.”

Having the students at the center also helps revitalize the residents, activity director Kathy Lozinsky said.

“I think it really helps them to stay young. … It brings back some of their childhood memories — they talk about it afterward,” she said, adding, “The kids coming in really keeps us all young.”

In addition to visiting residents at The Haven, students made cards and gift baskets for hospital patients and also swept sidewalks downtown.

“It helps out other people,” Dusty Davis said before taking a break from sweeping the walkway in front of Hayden Town Hall with a group of sixth- and seventh-graders.

But Tucker Vestal had a more practical reason for why volunteering was a good way to spend the last day before the holiday vacation.

“Because if we don’t do it now, it will be covered with snow,” he said.


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