A wish to help others led to some holiday cheer for home-bound seniors this season.
Earlier this semester, Suzanne Leikam’s fifth-grade class at Roosevelt Elementary School read the book “Home of the Brave” by Katherine Applegate. The children’s novel tells the story of a Kek, a boy from Africa brought to the United States as a refugee.
That led to a discussion about the differences between the students’ lives in the United States and children in Africa, Leikam said.
“We had a good discussion about how we have so much, we are blessed, and how some other kids don’t have what we have,” Leikam said.
That inspired Kailey Delimont and Haley Roth to want to help.
“We started talking about how kids in Africa don’t have that much, and we wanted to send them something,” Kailey said. “We thought it would be nice if we gave food or something.”
“Always, as a little kid, I thought it would be fun to go to Africa and give them treats or something,” Haley said.
During the discussion, Katie Schmidt had an idea.
“I raised my hand and said, ‘Why don’t we do stuff for my mom’s work?’ And that’s how it all got started,” she said.
Her mom is Karen Schmdit, nutrition director of the Homestead Nutrition Project. The project of the Northwest Kansas Area Agency on Aging provides meals to those 60 and older in the 18-county area of northwest Kansas.
In Hays, the project serves 150 meals a day at the Senior Center, 2540 E. Eighth, and through home delivery, Schmidt said.
On Wednesday morning, the 21 students in Leikam’s class helped make mints that were included in the meals delivered to seniors' homes today.
“I was looking at some of my Christmas recipes and came across these cream cheese mints,” Leikam said.
The dough for the mints was made before school, and in the first class of the day, the students each were given four or five small pieces they rolled into balls, then smashed with a fork and decorated with Christmas-colored sugar sprinkles.
The mints were set aside to dry before being bagged and collected for today’s deliveries.
“I think it’s really fun,” Coy Stutterheim said as he flattened a mint with a plastic fork.
This wasn’t the first time the students had helped with the Homestead program. At Thanksgiving, they made s’mores-type treats for the home-delivered meals.
The students even received thank-you cards from some of the meal recipients. Schmidt put stickers on the bags to let the seniors know where the Thanksgiving treats had come from, and included them again on the Christmas treats.
“It made me feel good because they liked that we were thinking about them,” Kailey said about the cards.
“I felt really proud of myself and kind of happy that they appreciated it,” Haley said.
That’s the important lesson for the season, their teacher said.
“They always think about, ‘What am I going to get,’ but they also need to understand it’s also a good time to be giving,” Leikam said.