Thomas Paine students, Prairie Winds residents collaborate

Thomas Paine students, Prairie Winds residents collaborate

URBANA — On a rainy Monday afternoon, students from Thomas Paine Elementary and residents at Prairie Winds of Urbana worked together to celebrate an old tradition and start a new one.

They made May Day baskets together to start what organizers say they hope will be an association between the supportive-living facility and the school.

Second- and fourth-grade students from two classrooms walked from the school and across Lohmann Park to get to Prairie Winds on Monday. They sat at tables with Prairie Winds residents, cutting paper, coloring it and adding stickers, then bending it to make a cone and stapling on a paper handle.

Inside those paper baskets went colorful tissue paper, hard candies and artificial flowers.

The students made two each and rattled off their planned recipients, because the baskets were intended for someone they cared a lot about.

Second-grader Kyle Moody said he planned to give one to his mom and one to his grandmother, "because she does a lot of nice stuff for me."

He said he liked making the baskets, but also enjoyed getting help from Midge Eaton.

"I liked knowing someone I didn't know before," Moody said.

Even though Monday was rainy, Moody said he didn't mind the walk, either.

"It was rainy, but it was worth it," he said.

Eaton said she enjoyed working with Moody and the other students at her table.

"It's fun," she said, "It takes you back to childhood."

Sarah Doenitz used to be a second-grade teacher in Mansfield, she said, and she enjoyed making May baskets, as well.

"We don't have many young people in here, unless it's somebody's grandchildren," Doenitz said.

Doentiz helped students finish up their baskets, wrapping them in cone shapes and filling them with tissue paper.

"It's been a long time since I've done this," she said.

Angie Armstrong, Thomas Paine's community outreach coordinator, said she met Prairie Winds' director of marketing Margaret Seggebruch at an Urbana Business Association event, and they talked about having the neighboring institutions collaborate.

Next week, Prairie Winds residents will head to Thomas Paine to hear performances by band and strings students, Armstrong said.

Seggebruch said opportunities like these give residents a chance to share their experiences with the children, especially when it's an activity like making May baskets. Plus, she said, many residents don't have family close by, so this gives them the chance to spend time with young people.

Second-grade teacher Shannon Mulvey and fourth-grade teacher Brianna Garrett said students in their classes are reading buddies, so they're familiar with one another.

Garrett said Monday's activity gave students a chance to see another aspect of their community, and to remember lessons like manners and treating others with respect.

It also gives them some exposure to the tradition of May baskets and a way to interact with neighbors they might not otherwise see.

"You see a different part of the child come out," Garrett said.

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