The pandemic has had a deadly impact on seniors, especially those nursing and long-term care facilities. There were more than 15,000 nursing home deaths due to COVID-19.
Those statistics launched a nursing home probe against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his handling of the pandemic within these facilities.
But within those nursing homes are real people. They are mothers, fathers, and grandparents who were sheltered from their loved ones for months on end.
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, a group of 4-year-olds got a lesson on love that will brighten one of the darkest places of this pandemic.
“Valentine's Day is my favorite day on earth,” says 4-year-old Emily Reisinger.
The hearts are flying around Ms. Carolyn Dagget’s Pre-K 4 classroom at St. Gregory’s in Loudonville.
“We’ve been practicing hole punching, so we’ve made a lot of tiny little hearts they can stick on,” explains Daggett about this week’s crafts.
Counting each heart one by one, the students had their hard work on display. This week, the children are leaning about Valentine’s Day. And while it’s easy to get caught up in all the bright colors, candy, and crafts, they’re also learning the true meaning of selfless love.
“I made the heart with paper and then I stick it on,” explains student Eric Diaz.
While it was challenging to understand at first, these kids are giving a piece of their heart to those who are lonely.
“What did we think friends? Was it hard because wanted to take them home?” said Daggett. “It’s a hard concept to get kids to understand that they’re going to donate and it’s not going home with them.”
But this group is catching on pretty quick. They understand that their Valentine’s Day crafts will be going to seniors in nursing homes throughout the city.
“We can spread all of the love to those in the nursing home to make them feel happy and make them feel better,” said student Liam Reichert.
The donations are part of the Tulip Project, which was started by a fellow St. Gregory Pre-K teacher, Meghan Regan, during the pandemic. The group has donated hundreds of comfort items and necessities to those in nursing homes. This Valentine’s Day, they’ll be getting something very special.
“We talked a lot about COVID and how some people can’t visit their loved ones in the nursing home- so this is something they can look out their window and see that someone cares about them, someone loves them,” explains Daggett.
Window catchers will be a constant reminder that people are thinking of them. As the kids explain, they take that job very seriously.
“The sun is going to shine through it, and we’re not going to let any cracks in it!” said Liam.
“To have something made by a four year old- with four year old love in it- will brighten anyone’s day,” adds Daggett.
For more information about the Tulip project’s mission and donations to local nursing homes, click here.