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Vina sixth-graders meet pen pals

Brittany Pannell’s sixth-grade class started a community service project in September, and the students have now gotten to see the real-life impact they are making.

Dec. 14 they traveled to Generations of Red Bay and visited with the residents there – the same ones the students wrote letters to in the hopes of developing a pen pal type of relationship. Pannell said the students have gotten a couple of letters back since September, including one on the day of their visit.

“They were so excited when we got the letter at the school. The boy who received it couldn’t wait to open it, and the other students were so happy for him,” she said.

Students have also been making crafts for the residents each month. In October they made little candy corn men. In November they made turkeys. For December they made snowmen out of socks and rice to gift to the residents for the holiday.

“It was eye-opening for a lot of them because I don’t think they realized the circumstances of all of the people they were writing to,” Pannell said.

Students started off their holiday visit by singing Christmas carols for the residents and then visited the individual residents they had been writing to.

“I saw tears in some of their eyes as they were interacting with the residents, and that was heartwarming for me,” Pannell said.

When her class started this project, it was her goal for them to learn about empathy and caring for others, and Pannell said they have definitely learned these qualities – especially after making the trip.