During the Christmas holiday season, our Special Therapies team works with our youth on a generosity project where they can use their creativity to show care for others. Traditionally, this project has included decorating stockings for staff members at the Champaign County Nursing Home. They put a small bag of candy in each stocking, hand them out to the nursing home staff as a thank you for the hard work they do year around and especially during the holidays and then sing Christmas carols to the residents and staff.
"We have a discussion with our kids about how people in human services, social services and emergency services will often work through the holidays to ensure their clients, patients or consumers are still taken care of," Jill, Special Therapies specialist, said. "We talk about how these types of jobs are around the clock, much like at Cunningham."
This year, due to the safety precautions in place because of the pandemic, a visit to the nursing home was not possible, so our kids decided to do something different. They wanted to show their appreciation to those who help make the holiday season special for them and made ornaments to give to donors who visited campus to drop off gifts and donations.
"Our donors' eyes just lit up when we gave them these ornaments from our kids," Brooke, Associate Director of Advancement, said. "They absolutely loved them and it's heartwarming to think these beautiful pieces of art are now hanging on Christmas trees all over our community."
Our youth used their creativity once again when they worked with Chaplain Gay on a community project that included making handmade Christmas cards for hospice patients and seniors without families.
"CHM Bible Theater Productions created this fundraiser to help Transitions Hospice and enlisted our help," Chaplain Gay said. "Our kids made 45 colorful and cheerful holiday cards and when they were finished, a couple of them prayed over them which was their idea. It was just the sweetest thing."
Projects like these make an impact on our youth as they teach them about generosity, caring for others and spreading Christmas spirit. They also help them realize the importance of giving back and carry out the fundamental idea that developing gratitude and compassion is an important aspect of our vision, to see every child thrive.