A message of hope and love on Valentine’s Day

Senior resident receives a Valentine's Day card

Marjorie Affrunti was shocked when Grace Stugis, 7, showed up at her breakfast table, bearing gifts.

Grace gave her a red paper heart wrapped around candy.

“I said, ‘Take that back now. You don’t want to lose it.’ She said, ‘It’s for you,’” Affrunti said.

Excited about the surprise, Affrunti blew Grace a kiss.

“It’s been a long time since someone sent me a Valentine,” Affrunti said.

Grace was one of 38 second-graders from Trinity Christian School who visited residents Friday morning at The Timbers in Shorewood, a retirement community.

Second-graders from Trinity Christian School sing for seniors at the Timbers on Shorewood. The students passed out homemade Valentines, candy and sang songs about Jesus and love.

Mark Lones, head of the school in Shorewood, said the students were excited about coming.

“This is good for the kids. I know it’s good for the ones here, but this is really good for our students,” he said.

Teachers Kris Kraker and Marnie Van Wyk said the students wanted to give the residents a message of hope and love and remind them not to miss out on God’s love, which includes forgiveness, healing, love, compassion, faith and hope.

Shelly Goggins, director of activities for The Timbers, said visits from students really perk up the residents who love to see the children.

Josh Stevenson, 8, thought their visit was important.

“I think it’s nice because they need to know about Jesus and how Jesus loves them,” he said.

Residents Jeanette and Val O’Gary returned to the dining room after breakfast to greet their visitors.

Valentine’s Day cards and candy to Timbers’ residents“They had all these wonderful gifts for us. Aren’t they adorable? It was a lot of fun,” Jeanette said. “The kids are wonderful. It reminds us of our kids when we used to take them to do things like this. … It’s so good to see them. Some of them look like my granddaughters. … They brought in a lot of excitement. … It’s like electrifying.”

Jeanette was impressed by the scripture the students included on the paper hearts: John 4:7-8: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.”

Jeanette and Val will be married 49 years in May.

“It’s a lifetime for some people. We’ve been here for two years. Our secret is tolerating one another,” she joked. “It’s just one day at a time with us. There’s always something special in marriage.”

They raised six children in Joliet and now have 10 grandchildren.

The students sang a song just for residents, singing, “Jesus loves the people of the Timbers. Yes, He loves you very much. … Jesus loves you. Yes He loves you very much.”

Then, they read scripture from Corinthians “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”

“That’s one of our favorites. The love chapter,” Jeanette said.

Grace enjoyed meeting the residents and getting hugs.

“It was very fun and I liked telling everyone about Jesus,” she said.

By Catherine Ann Velasco
Joliet Herald News – Feb. 14, 2011

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