Last week may have been a bit cold and dreary but that didn't stop several residents of the Heritage of Dover assisted living community and seven St. John's Lutheran School students from descending upon ten Dover elementary schools to mark National Compliment Day.
Residents gave hand-written personal cards to every teacher at each of the schools, thanking them for what they do. The group packed a bus and visited each school in order to deliver the cards and bunches of smiley face balloons.
"It made me feel good, I enjoy doing it," said Jack Spear, one of the three residents that handed out the cards. "It shows that older people do care about others."
The residents were inspired to reach out following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last month. They didn't know how they could help those in Connecticut, so they chose instead to give back locally.
"They wanted to show teachers that we're grateful for what they do," said Kyla Teed, recreation director at Heritage of Dover. "We hoped that it would inspire other people to pay it forward and give back."
Several of the residents also wanted to give back to teachers because they themselves used to work as educators or administrators. One of those people was former Capital School District Superintendent Edward Goate.
"People here, in Heritage, not only want to help themselves, they want to gather together for other people." Goate said.
This isn't the first Compliment Day that's been celebrated by Heritage residents. Last year, the community celebrated the day by giving smiley face balloons to city employees.
"The residents love community service projects," Teed said. "They enjoy being connected with the community."
This year, the group wrote and handed out roughly 600 cards. Residents took time out to write some on their own, but Heritage also had scheduled events for card writing. They started writing the cards the first week of January and wrapped up the project on Jan. 22, the day before they distributed them.
"The looks on the teachers' faces were amazing, it was very special and touching," said Michelle Duke, principal at South Dover Elementary. "You don't often get a lot of thanks as a teacher."
The cards contained messages like the one written by Mary Ann Teller, which read, "Thank you for choosing a career in education. Our future is in the hands and minds of the children you teach - a meritorious responsibility."
The residents didn't want to disturb classes, so at most schools they passed the cards along to administrators, but at Campus Community School the group had the opportunity to go into a kindergarten class and hand deliver their cards, where they were rewarded for their efforts.
Page 2 of 2 - "The teacher gave an impromptu lesson on compliments, and so all of the 5-year-olds proceeded to compliment everyone," said Trish Hermance, Head of School at of Campus Community.
At South Dover, it wasn't only the teachers that took notice of the Heritage visit. The rest of the staff there enjoyed it, too.
"It was wonderful. Everybody loved it," said Sherri Pawlyk, senior secretary at South Dover. "They were so nice."
At Campus Community School, Hermance has even seen a bit of a chain reaction from the Heritage residents' visit. Students are passing along the positivity, just like the residents hoped they would.
"A couple of students have approached me and said they complimented someone today," she said. "It's wonderful to see them try and keep it going."