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Students Bring Holiday Cheer To Care Center
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Fair Oaks sixth grader Thomas Gonzalez, right, hands a new CD player to Shirley Garcia, wife of Oak Valley Care Center resident Adolphe ‘Doc’ Garcia, second from left, when his class visited the care center on Dec. 17 to deliver gifts they purchased by doing a school fundraiser. - photo by Dawn M. Henley/The Leader
Armed with umbrellas and rain ponchos donated by parents, students in Tara Vandermark’s class at Fair Oaks Elementary School braved the weather on Dec. 17 and focused on giving to others. The rain couldn’t keep the class of 36 sixth graders from taking a walking field trip to deliver gifts and handmade cards to residents at Oak Valley Care Center.
This is the fourth year that Vandermark has had her students sell $1 “candy grams” at school for a little over a week to raise funds to purchase gifts for residents at OVCC. Each candy gram consisted of a candy cane with a note attached and were delivered on Dec. 17 to students in class at school. With daily help from parent volunteer Teresa Aguilar, Vandermark’s class raised $450 this year.
“(This is) so they can remember that life is more about giving than receiving,” Vandermark said about her reasons for the service project. “That’s life’s biggest lesson, I think.”
With the candy gram proceeds, the class purchased a DVD player and movies, Wii games and controllers, headphones, dominoes, and batteries for the care center for the residents’ use. They hand delivered all the gifts and the students also made holiday cards, some in English and Spanish, to share with residents at the care center. They split off in small groups and visited some residents in their rooms, reading the colored snowman cards to them and visiting.
“Every year we look forward to the visit,” said OVCC administrator Cheryl Koff. “They make Christmas very special for all our seniors here.”
Vandermark said that the visit typically makes an impact on her students.
“Some of them are shocked about life outside their own bubble,” she said. “They’re shocked to see that people in need really do exist… It’s a humbling experience for them – and me, too. It makes me thankful for all the blessings I have in my life.”
As a special treat on their way back to school, the students stopped with their teacher and chaperones to get ice cream cones at a drugstore they walked past on their field trip.
Vandermark said that candy gram sales have been fairly consistent each year. In past years the Fair Oaks sixth graders have donated a much-needed television, a surround sound system, TV trays, and a Japanese Maple tree, just to name a few, to OVCC with the proceeds from their candy gram fundraiser.