Helena students bring Christmas to nursing home residents

As the 50 Helena Middle School students walked the halls of Shelby Ridge Nursing Home in Alabaster, singing holiday classics such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Jingle Bells,” employees and residents alike stopped and smiled.

The event was meant to be a service project, but it felt more like fun than work to the kids, said Alan Wilson, a sixth-grade teacher and the Builders Club sponsor at Helena middle.

“I think the kids have a real sense of community service, because I think their parents have talked to them about community service,” Wilson said. “It gives them a chance to perform, especially the sixth grade. The more they perform, the better they’ll be.”

The students are all members of the Helena Middle choir, and the stop at Shelby Ridge was just one of several performances slated for the holiday season.

After the kids caroled the halls, it was time for the showstopper. Led by choir director Frank Andrews, all 50 students gathered in the dining room to serenade dozens of residents and family members with classic songs mixed with more modern fare, such as “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.”

After every song, the dining room burst into applause.

DiAnna Wilson, Alan Wilson’s wife and the director of admissions at Shelby Ridge, said the kids bring happiness into the residents’ lives.

“They love seeing the children. When the kids come into the facility, they just light up,” DiAnna Wilson said. “It makes it feel like they’re celebrating the holidays.”

She said for the students, giving time to the community helps them become well-rounded.

“I think it’s just neat for the kids to take their time after school to give back to the community,” DiAnna Wilson said. “The generation they live in, it’s all about me. It’s about what they can get. This teaches them it’s not all about them, it’s about other people too.”

The children have also contributed to the Christmas spirit at Shelby Ridge in other ways. Alan Wilson’s sixth grade language arts students wrote holiday haikus, which are plastered all over the walls in the nursing home. Also, students made Christmas cards for the residents.