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Students surprise seniors with baskets of love

Posted: March 10, 2009 12:36 a.m.
Updated: March 10, 2009 4:59 a.m.
Delighted seniors resembled kids on Christmas morning as they opened heart-decorated baskets filled with breakfast-, lunch- and dinner-themed foods on Valentine's Day at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center.

La Mesa Junior High honor students Dane Cannon, Michael Leffler, Andie Hill and Kristie Moody assembled 30 Valentine's baskets with food donations they collected from people in their community.

"We wanted to help the seniors with their groceries and give them a gift for Valentine's Day," Hill said.

The students initiated the project to fulfill the community service hours required for participating in La Mesa's honor society.

"Honor students have to do 10 community service hours every semester," Cannon said.

Cannon and his partners set up brightly colored food donation drop boxes at Albertsons and Ralphs in Canyon Country and initiated a food drive in their neighborhoods.

"We put fliers on doors or under the mats and then we gave people a specific date to donate on, Friday, Feb. 13," Cannon said.

"They gave a lot of canned food and non-perishable items. A lot of people donated beans and Jell-O."

The team sorted and arranged food items in the baskets to create complete meals, including oatmeal and applesauce for breakfast, soups for lunch, and pasta with sauce for dinner, Leffler said.

Leffler chose to participate in the project because it helped others, he said.

"I had lots of projects that I could have picked from," he said. "It was fun, a learning experience, and it made me feel good to put a smile on someone else's face and let them know there are people out there who care."

Moody enjoyed doing the project with her friends and working as a team, she said.

"Teamwork is a lot better than working as an individual because you can have fun with your friends as you help other people," she said.

The seniors' reactions to the gifts pleasantly surprised the students when they dropped off the baskets.

"They were all shocked and very happy," Cannon said. "Some of them had tears in their eyes."
Hill agreed.

"They were really excited, happy and grateful," she said. "It was really rewarding to see the look on their faces."


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