The story below is regarding the compassion residing within the heart of the young lady in this photo. She is only 14 years old. Many folks see the need of those around them, yet, wonder “What can I do?” Everyone can do something…as this article points out. Although this is considered the “season of giving”…this does NOT need to be limited to one time a year. This should be an ‘attitude’ year round.
Many people look at their own wallets and conclude they can do nothing. However, I know from experience this simply is not true. I trust that this article will help everyone to see that it is possible to be of help to those around you. So many are struggling these days..let’s take a lesson from this young lady and “Do what our hands find to do”.
Teen Brings Pajamas, Caring to Elderly
To These Nusing Home Residents, ‘Christmas Is Corissa’
By BRIAN O’KEEFE
Dec. 24, 2008
Corissa Tefft, 14, first came to the Rosewood Heights Nursing Home in Syracuse, N.Y., when her beloved grandmother became a resident three years ago. Tefft began volunteering and soon became attached to many of the other grandmothers and grandfathers.
“She touches the hearts of every single one of those residents,” Joyce Warriner, Rosewood Heights director, told “Good Morning America.” “She brings happiness to the moment. Many of the residents have dementia and their whole lives revolve around what is happening now. They don’t remember what they had for breakfast two hours ago, but they’re happy.”
Then, when the holidays rolled around, Tefft noticed something that jarred the holiday spirit of comfort out of the nursing home.
“I’d come up at night and they’d be in hospital gowns instead of bathrobes or nightgowns and things like that,” Tefft said.
So, Tefft wrote a letter to the newspaper and announced a pajama drive, and soon she was awash in pajamas, slippers, robes and even teddy bears. Her gifts brought warmth to many and tears to some.
“They’re nice and warm or whatever she says about pajamas,” resident Beverly Larrabbee said through tears. “And I get depressed and she’s like a light at the end of the tunnel.”
“Even if they don’t remember it a couple hours later, they’re just so happy at the moment that I’d rather see them have a better moment and forget it a couple minutes later, but know they’re happy,” Tefft said.
In return, Tefft said she gets a whole world of history. Angelino was one of the first women reporters at the Wall Street Journal. She tells Tefft stories of those early days while Tefft helps bring Angelino back to youth by painting her nails.
“You know what I see? I see a lot of the past,” said rehabilitation therapist Mike Loughlin. “I see the face that they had years ago when it lights up. They may be remembering their own daughters and granddaughters. It’s very touching.”
Word of Tefft’s pajama drive continues to spread, and bags and bags of gifts piled up for this year’s drive. Money has been raised to help bring more gifts to the home, a blessing since government funding cutbacks have made it almost impossible for Rosewood Heights to survive.
“It’s quite amazing,” Loughlin said. “We have 243 residents in here and she can conjure up gifts from the community. She’s 14 years old. I can picture myself working for her in 20 years. It gives us hope because we hear so many negative stories about teenagers today. And this is a marvelous story of an average teenager going above and beyond. Christmas is Corissa.”
“People that have worked their whole lives that don’t have anything right now, I think they deserve to get a Christmas present,” Tefft said. “They’ve done lots for everybody. They’ve contributed to society. Make them comfortable because they might not be here much longer. So, you want to make their lives the best.”
Warriner said Tefft brings far more than comfort.
“Seeing her is a gift from God. It really is. She is amazing to watch and she will become a wonderful woman. She will,” Warriner said.
Due to Alzheimer’s disease, 90-year-old Betty Angelino does not remember when Tefft gave her the pajamas, but she still proudly shows them off.