Teenager Has Heart For Elderly; Collects Hundreds Of Pairs Of Pajamas For Nursing Home Residents

A tenth-grade student has a heart for the elderly at a nursing home near her home. Every Sunday morning she brings a basket filled with about 20 bottles of nail polishes to the female residents at the nursing home. She discusses what colors and designs they like. Then she paints their nails.

She has been following this routine with the women for the last four years. “They love fancy things,” she said. “Like pink and purple flowers.”

Nail painting is not the only thing she does for the residents. For the fourth Christmas in a row, she is collecting new pajamas and nightgowns for them. “I love to make them happy and make their days brighter,” she said. “They are like my family.”

Last year, she gave more than 300 pairs of pajamas to the residents at the nursing home. The monetary donations she collected also helped her buy other items, as well, such as a wooden outdoor swing, arts and crafts supplies, decorations and clothing. “These are things they can use all year round,” she said.

This year, her goal is to gather enough pajamas for all the 242 residents. “A lot of people called me and asked where they can drop off pajamas,” she said. “It’s looking good.”

Her efforts on behalf of the residents started in August 2006, when she began visiting her grandmother at the nursing home. The 12-year-old was sad to see so many elderly who didn’t have families.

Before long, she became the unofficial goodwill ambassador of the sixth floor, serving coffee, writing letters, helping with bingo, painting nails — or just talking to someone who never had visitors.

She held their hands and listened to their stories. Some of the residents have varying levels of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. “It’s nice to talk to them and bring their memories back,” she said.

Sometimes she brought school works to the nursing home. For example, she and a friend were doing a project on the Great Depression. They talked to some residents. “I was shocked,” she said. “It was surprising to see how they lived. For more, read the story.

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Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.