Lowell kids bring smiles to Bethany residents' faces

Residents at Woodland Good Samaritan Society-Bethany were grinning ear to ear Monday morning as fourth-graders from Lowell Elementary School sang Christmas carols and surprised residents with a homemade gift.

Woodland Good Samaritan Society-Bethany resident Barb Howard reacts Monday to receiving a snowman as a gift from Lowell Elementary School fourth-grader Matt Thomes. Fourth-graders at the school made the gift for residents as part of the school's December theme of "Super Caring Kid," where students do random acts of kindness. (Steve Kohls/ Brainerd Dispatch) Video

Residents at Woodland Good Samaritan Society-Bethany were grinning ear to ear Monday morning as fourth-graders from Lowell Elementary School sang Christmas carols and surprised residents with a homemade gift.

"I knew we would help them have a Merry Christmas," Lowell fourth-grader Maddy Feierabend said after singing the carols and delivering a resident a homemade snowman gift. "It was exciting to give them a gift because I knew they would instantly have a good Christmas."

About 75 fourth-graders spent their library hour over a two-week period to make a snowman out of a sock to surprise the residents. Some students made a few extra to make sure all the Bethany residents would receive a gift.

Judy Kringen, Lowell media secretary and the creator behind the project, wanted students to do some sort of project in the community, especially with the elderly. Kringen said Lowell's theme of December is "Super Caring Kids" and the students are doing random acts of kindness.

Kringen said new this school year is "Makerspace" at the Brainerd elementary libraries. "Makerspace" is an opportunity where students think, create and share. Kringen said the students use "Makerspace" tools, such as Legos, Snap Circuits, Spirographs and marble runs for their projects. With these tools, the students created a snowman and a gift bag for the residents.


"It was such a blessing and beautiful experience for both our kids and the residents at Bethany," Kringen said of the event. "This is what Christmas is."

Kringen said the second- and third-graders also made Christmas cards for the residents.

To keep the project a surprise, the residents were not told the whole story of what was going on.

Bethany resident Dorothy Smith was waiting in anticipation. "I'm so excited, I can hardly wait for Santa," Smith said as she thought he may be coming for a visit. "They asked me if I wanted to come down to hear the kids sing."

Smith had a bright smile on her face as the fourth-graders began singing carols, including "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," "Jingle Bells" and "We Wish You A Merry Christmas."

"I love singing," Smith said.

After singing, the students grabbed their homemade snowman and gave each resident one.

"It's darling," Smith said of the snowman. "I can't believe they made each of us a gift. They did such a nice job on them. ... This made my Monday."


"This is absolutely beautiful. I'm impressed with their singing and this is such a beautiful thing to wake up to, absolutely lovely," said Barb Howard, another Bethany resident.

Howard said she collects snowmen so the gift was perfect.

"Every time I see this snowmen it will make me smile," Howard said.

Howard said she and her mother both attended Lowell Elementary School, so it was special to see students from there.

Fourth-grader Matt Thomes gave Howard his snowman. He said he had fun making it and he was excited to come to Bethany to deliver the snowman. Thomes said to make the snowman the students used a "clean sock." He said they put rice in the sock for the body, used pins for the eyes and yarn for a scarf. He said they used a rubber band to tie the neck part of the snowman.

Mary Langer is Howard's caring partner and said having the children think of the residents is a good thing. She said these residents can't leave the facility and so it is nice when young people come visit them.

"It reminds them of their own kids and grandkids," Langer said. "It gives the residents an uplift and seeing the kids respect their elderly and care for them is a good thing."

Fourth-grade teacher David Meyer said having the students participate in this particular "Super Caring Kid" project is "awesome." Meyer said the residents enjoyed listening to the carols and the students had fun singing them.


Meyer said for some of the students, it is their first experience being at a senior care center, so it was good to expose them to a new, positive experience in the community,

"This is cool," said fourth-grader Eli Karlgaard. "I'm pretty sure they are happy about (us coming). It made me feel good to give something to them."

Samantha Adams, who is the recreation wellness director at Bethany, said having the students connect with the elderly is beneficial to both generations. Adams said it teaches the students about community and giving and it shows the Bethany residents that people do care about them.

"The residents absolutely loved this," Adams said of the morning event.

Around 90 residents received a snowman gift.

Kringen said she hopes to make this an annual event and next year may have the students make gifts for residents at Woodland or another senior care center.


JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 218-855-5851. Follow me at on Twitter.

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