Gingerbread men, holiday wreaths, trees and heartfelt holiday greetings adorned green, red and white paper cards created by Kenneth C. Coombs School students during the week leading up to Christmas.
On December 23, Kenneth C. Coombs prekindergarten teacher Sharon Fulone delivered 104 holiday-themed cards made by students to the residents of Laurentide At Mashpee Commons, the assisted living care facility on Great Neck Road North.
Ms. Fulone said she was inspired to have the students make the cards based on her own experiences with family and friends in nursing homes.
“Several people I know have family members in nursing homes,” she said. “I have a brother in a nursing home. I’ve witnessed how hard it is for family members—my parents included—to not be able to visit or spend special time with them.”
Particularly right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be difficult or impossible to visit family members in nursing care facilities due to the possibility of exposing high-risk elders.
According to state COVID-19 guidelines, families are allowed to visit their loved ones in nursing homes and assisted living care facilities but with strict regulations that can change on a case-by-case basis.
“We delivered a total of 104 cards that children in preschool through 2nd grade made,” Ms. Fulone said. “The Coombs School children really enjoyed making the holiday cards.”
The homemade cards were then distributed to Laurentide residents on Christmas Eve by activities director Danny Herlihy.
“They loved the cards,” Mr. Herlihy said. “They were smiling, they loved them—it really brightened up their day.”
Mr. Herlihy said he handed out the cards for the residents to read, and he also read some of the cards out loud.
“I loved the idea,” he said.
Mr. Herlihy said he was presented the idea by Ms. Fulone and Quashnet Elementary School 4th grade teacher Stephanie Manning.
“I thought it was really nice, especially this time of year,” he said. “The residents enjoy receiving stuff like that from little kids in general.”
Mr. Herlihy has been the activities director at Laurentide for 2½ years.
“Danny Herlihy was my former neighbor, and he has done such a great job providing activities for the patients, and pre-COVID, the Coombs students had chances to connect with Laurentide,” Ms. Fulone said.
Before the pandemic, Mr. Herlihy created a partnership with the Coombs School to get students interacting with the Laurentide residents.
“Prior to COVID I did a partnership with the Coombs School where I would have different activities each month with teachers and classrooms,” he said. “For example, one year in December we’d play bingo and then we made gingerbread houses.”
Chaperoned by their teacher, students would take a field trip to Laurentide.
Mr. Herlihy said he would absolutely try to start the program back up again once it is safe for everyone involved.