Ivy Cares makes cards, gift bags for Meals on Wheels

By Shelley Widhalm

The Surveyor

Meals on Wheels clients received a little something extra with one of their meals delivered just before Christmas — and they’ll get another treat for Valentine’s Day, thanks to a few Ivy Stockwell Elementary School students.

Courtesy photo – The Ivy Cares Club at Ivy Stockwell Elementary School in Berthoud makes cards and gift bags for Meals on Wheels of Loveland and Berthoud’s holiday meal deliveries. Giving them advice is parent, Jennifer Rajewski, standing, whose daughter Stella is in the second grade.

Members of the Ivy Cares Club decorated paper lunch bags and made Christmas cards for clients of Meals on Wheels of Loveland and Berthoud. Volunteer drivers delivered the gift bags filled with gifts Dec. 11-28, depending on when clients received their meal delivery services.

“They’re thrilled every year, and the new clients, they are surprised,” said Jenny McKalko, client enrollment specialist and Senior Santa Program director for Meals on Wheels, adding for some of the clients the bags were the only gifts they received this year.

The drivers delivered more than 270 bags, which served as gift bags for the donations the nonprofit collects through the Senior Santa Project that included outerwear, household items and pet supplies. Meals on Wheels has 310 active clients, including homebound seniors and those with disabilities, and serves 280 lunchtime meals a day.

“We need to teach kids the value of doing for others, and it opens kids’ eyes to gratefulness,” McKalko said. “It makes them think about giving back to the community to others who have less than them.”

Members of the Ivy Cares after-school club spent three weeks assembling the gift items, working from just after Thanksgiving through early December. The club, which currently has 25 students in grades K-5, meets every other week for one hour after school to help out with various community service projects.

“When I explained Meals on Wheels and how it helps people get hot meals, they were in awe,” said Dorothy Fuller, faculty assistant and organizer of the Ivy Cares Club. “They really put their hearts into it, and they all love helping other people.”

Courtesy photo – Members of the Ivy Cares Club at Ivy Stockwell Elementary School in Berthoud made cards and gift bags in late November and early December for clients of Meals on Wheels of Loveland and Berthoud.

The club, founded four years ago, contacted Meals on Wheels at that time to find out about possible needs and was given the idea of donating items to go along with client meals, Fuller said. The club started with may baskets for May Day, followed with the Christmas bags, valentine cards and candy bags for Valentine’s Day, Easter baskets for Easter Day, and something recycled for Earth Day.

This year club members decorated the gift bags using stickers, magic markers and craft supplies, choosing winter or holiday themes. They made the cards out of construction paper and added stickers, beads, ribbons and other items to decorate them.

“I really like that it was just fun. We got to do things that are artistic, and we really got to make people happy with our talents,” said Addyson Corbett, 9, a fourth grader at Ivy Stockwell who has been part of the club for two years. “I really like giving back to the community, and I really like helping people, and I just like letting people know somebody in the world is willing to do the work to make them happy.”

Seven-year-old Stella Rajewski, a second grader at the school, likes putting stickers on the bags and gluing on some ribbons.

“I like helping people, and it’s fun to help people. Sometimes you get to do fun crafts to help them and make them happy,” Rajewski said.

The club members also made fleece tie blankets but only had time for four. The blankets were given to homebound seniors with severe health issues.

“It opened their hearts to thinking of others,” Fuller said. “They’re having fun, obviously, but really are thinking of others and what I call getting out of their me-boxes.”

The club also started and helps take care of a school garden, which is available to the community. It helps with canned food and clothing drives, provides gifts for various appreciation days, puts on an indoor Veterans Day parade, and makes posters to welcome local veterans.

Every other month the club takes on a new project to serve their town, the state or the nation, such as a penny drive to help raise money for an elementary school library in Texas.

“It helps other people, like giving them things they need,” said Daphane Horner, 8, a second grader and a member of the club for one year. “People, if they don’t get what they need they might not live long.”

Nine-year-old Helen Ingham, a fourth grader, joined the club four years ago to be able to garden and help out others.

“I learned that a lot of people can’t afford some stuff, and it’s great to help out. It was really fun,” Ingham said.

Ivy Cares Club’s next project for Meals on Wheels will be making valentine cards.

“Seniors just love that,” McKalko said. “It’s one thing to have it made by a computer. It’s another to have love put into it.”

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