Herald/Steven Doll - Clifton Park Elementary School fifth-grader Melinda Silvea gives a poinsettia to Rosewood Living Center resident Zelma Hunt while visiting the facility with classmates Thursday. Fifth-graders from the school’s Kid Leaders group brought gifts to center residents.

By Todd Martin

Special to the Daily Herald

Uncertain at first, but quickly gaining confidence, four fifth-graders delivered a dose of cheer and gift baskets to senior residents in Killeen Thursday.

The Clifton Park Elementary School students, all part of a new Kid Leaders group at the school, delivered 20 baskets, with lap blankets, personal care products, poinsettia flowers and handmade crafts and cards.

The students went room-to-room at the Rosewood Living Center with their school sponsors and center activities director Abby Maldonado.

In one room, resident Zelda Hunt asked the students to sing a song. Bravely, the students and Principal Catherine Snyder sang "Feliz Navidad" to the grateful resident.

Other residents thanked their young guests for the treats and praised their efforts. One asked them how they knew exactly what she wanted for Christmas.

Maldonado chose residents whose families live far away and don't receive a lot of guests.

Clifton Park school counselor Melissa Gadd formed the fifth-grade leadership group with seven students this year to help them blossom into leaders on the campus.

During interviews to join the group, Gadd noted that many claimed they struggled with shyness. She said the visit was meant to help them gain confidence while providing a community service.

In October the group spearheaded a landscaping project at the school and in the spring they plan to conduct a fundraiser to assist a medical charity and take on some younger students to begin mentoring.

Kayla McFall, Melinda Silva, Mark Thompson and Jennifer Stanley made the gift deliveries.

Gadd said the students and their families donated a lot of the goods for the gift baskets and that Clifton Park staff pitched in. They also provided games and books to contribute to the center's common areas.

"It was fun," Silva said. "I liked meeting the people and seeing what they liked."

It was an important project, Thompson said, "because they don't have a lot of family to see them and we wanted them to have a good Christmas."

"It was fun and interesting to see them and hear about the places they've been," said Stanley, who found out about a resident's time in Germany and Japan and saw another resident's collection of quilts.

McFall explained that the leadership students put together personal growth plans and that hers included overcoming shyness.

Following the hour-and-a-half visit at the center, the students claimed they had overcome their shyness.

They said they enjoyed the leadership group, which meets at lunch, because it gives them a way to help the school and to do interesting projects.

"They love the kids," Maldonado said of the residents. "You see their faces light up when they see the kids. I think they remember their own children and grandchildren."

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