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Enterprise 3rd-graders give gifts to Aspen residents

What kind of gifts do a bunch of 9- and 10-year-olds give to residents of a nursing home?

It doesn’t really matter, as long as they give.

That’s the lesson learned by 46 third-graders at Enterprise Attendance Center, who collected enough gifts and “happies” to fill up 22 gift bags for the residents of The Aspen of Brookhaven, one for each person living in the home. The children, who make up the classes of Ashley Douglas and Jennifer Lee, collected the gifts as part of “Kindness Day,” one of the 12 Days of Christmas their teachers put them through in the last dozen days leading up to the holiday break, to teach them the lesson of good will.

“We learned that our community is wonderful, which we already knew,” Douglas said. “Our community is close-knit — we reach out and give, even if we don’t have much to give, to those in need.”

The Enterprise students’ 12 Days of Christmas started out along storybook lines. They had Santa Claus Day, Snow Day, Elf Day and Reindeer Day, on which they made “reindeer food” out of crushed peppermint and chocolate chips, then went home to sprinkle glitter on the front yard so the reindeer could find their way.

Those were all simple days to celebrate and have fun, but in the midst of them, on Dec. 13, came Kindness Day.

“We talked about different acts of kindness, like holding the door open for someone, picking up trash, just any kind of kindness, acts that don’t cost anything,” Douglas said.

Then, they moved on gifts — acts that do cost. Douglas and Lee sent letters home, challenging the children and their families to bring in items that could help make Christmas merry for the residents of The Aspen.

They delivered. The two classrooms brought in around 250 items — blankets, pajamas, hats, gloves, crossword puzzles, card games, soaps, lotion and candy. The teachers had contacted the nursing home beforehand to get a list of recommended items, and when the children brought in the haul, it was enough that all 22 residents of the facility received a stuffed gift bag.

Workers from The Aspen picked up the bags Friday, the last day of school, and distributed them to their residents that night for an early Christmas, on which everyone — child and adult — can agree.

“It’s such a blessing,” said Marka Beeson, The Aspen’s activities director. “It’s just the small things that really mean the most to our residents, people taking up time, getting involved and making them feel special. It really puts a smile on their face when people reach out to them.”