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Students Deliver Smiles, Blankets To Area Seniors
A group of Oakdale Junior High School leadership students show some of the 177 blankets they collected for residents of Astoria Senior Living and the community. Teresa Hammond/The Leader

Oakdale Junior High School students were recently treated to an amazing ‘final exam’ opportunity.

As their fellow schoolmates sat in classrooms faced with tests, seventh and eighth graders of Lori Vargas’ Leadership Class and Leslie Acker’s Choir Class were treated to a trip to Astoria Senior Living.

“This is the first year that choir has joined us,” Health and Leadership teacher Vargas said of the outing made by 56 students. “It was Mr. Allen’s idea that we do this during our finals period. So that was our final.”

The ‘final’ as it were, for the Leadership students was a blanket drive, which resulted in collecting a total of 177 blankets. A collection which was open campuswide thanks to the efforts of the class.

“I think what makes it special too is the turnout at the Junior High was nice, because it is a love for the seniors in our community,” added Vargas. “It was spreading the warmth for Christmas.”

With only 38 residents at Astoria, the junior high group was able to provide two blankets for each Astoria resident, as well as donating some to Center for Human Services; providing for a local family in need; and donating some to the residents of Belmare Senior Living on the west side of town.

“They were very thankful,” Vargas said of all the recipients.

Giving special note to the Belmare staff she added, “It was cute, because as I was unpacking them, they were sharing which ones of their clientele would like the dog or the cat or what the print on the blankets were.”

The students were taken by bus on Friday, Dec. 15 to deliver the donated blankets in person, while the choir students performed for the Astoria residents as their semester final exam.

“I think what makes this special, is the energy,” Vargas said. “It’s the Christmas energy that surprised them. I don’t think they knew it was happening, so to just go in and share our love is special.”

The educator shared the students were both excited and proud of what they were able to collect and give to the residents of Astoria. She said while it was not a first-time event for the leadership class, each year the need might be different. To that end, she explained that school officials contact Astoria prior to the holiday drive to appropriately meet their needs.

As for the addition of the choir class, both educators felt it was a win all the way around.

“Lezlie already said she’s in for next year and I’m already in for next year. The idea of me trying to coordinate a song and dance, is just horrifying,” Vargas said.

But between the two teachers, and their students, it was the perfect way to spread some holiday cheer.

“What more could you get,” she said of this being the final and the joy felt by all. “You can’t get that on a multiple-choice exam.”

Students of the Oakdale Junior High School Choir perform “Mary Did You Know” for residents of Astoria Senior Living during a special holiday visit on Friday, Dec. 15. Teresa Hammond/The Leader