SELMA – You wouldn’t think students would have much to talk about with the seniors they were visiting at the Leebar Village Apartments on Dec. 20. However, udging by the laughter and chatter filling the dining room at the complex, there was plenty to talk about.
The Central Valley Lioness Lions Club and Leos hosted their fourth-annual caroling event at the Leebar apartments. The students sang several Christmas songs and spent some time talking with the seniors afterwards.
Lioness Lions Club Director Maxine Abe said the civic organization and its junior affiliate club started visiting after initially delivering Thanksgiving dinners from the Nick Medina Senior Center to the apartment complex.
“We saw a beautiful lady here named Alice. She was so sweet and so inviting,” Abe said of their first visit. “The kids absolutely loved her. I had to tear them away from her.”
The Leos had the idea of doing something more for the seniors and suggested bringing presents for the holidays.
“We couldn’t afford it at the time,” Abe said. “I suggested we come back and do some caroling. That turned into hot chocolate and cookies and little gifts. We love it and they love it.”
The club brought scarves, mittens and cookies to share with the seniors as well.
Sarah Mitchell, an eighth-grader at Abraham Lincoln Middle School, was one of the students in the Leos that came to sing and visit with the seniors. Mitchell said she liked just catching up and talking with the residents about what life was like when they were young. She said she also realizes many have family that are far away or busy working and would enjoy some company.
“It’s fun hearing the stories and what they’re doing for the holidays,” she said. “Some people don’t have anyone, and that’s kind of sad, so we can be like their family.”
Mitchell visited with Leebar resident Maria Lopez, who recounted stories of her own childhood in a family of 21.
“[The students] bring joy. It makes you remember when you were a kid,” Lopez said. “I was telling her about how I was raised in Selma and about when the schools were new.”
Lopez also shared stories with Mitchell of her family’s tradition of gathering on Christmas Eve to make tamales every year.
“I told my kids, 'I can’t get you gifts, but I’m going to show you how to make tamales.' I remember hearing that Mexicans make tamales because that’s all they had to unwrap. It’s true! Our parents had 21 children. We were poor and I remember those Salvation Army trucks would come and bring toys they had made themselves.”
After Leebar, the group went to a Fowler skilled nursing facility called Golden Living. The administrator there is Lioness President Heidi Setty. While Lion Skye Edwards and Leo President John Banda were accompanied by Jordan in singing carols, the other Leos went from room to room greeting residents and handing out small gifts. Abe said that since the students and residents enjoy the visits so much, it will definitely be a tradition that carries on next year.
"We sang to a room full of seniors. It was really quite special," Abe said. "The kids absolutely love doing this. It’s one of their favorite things to do out of the whole entire year. We get back exponentially so much more in return. The kids light up when they see the seniors. That’s makes me very happy and proud of our Leos, too.”