Five hundred handmade Christmas cards wait to be delivered to local care facilities after the ninth annual day of service on Dec. 9. Photo contributed by Region 10 Technical High School

The students of Region 10 Technical High School’s certified nursing assistant program are used to putting others first. In addition to regular classroom work at their home schools of Mt. Ararat, Freeport, Brunswick and Harpswell Coastal Academy, students spend their time feeding, bathing and caring for patients at Horizons Living and Rehabilitation Center and Mid Coast Senior Health Center.

But each winter, the group offers seniors a different kind of care: holiday cheer.

Last Friday, well over 50 Region 10 students participated in the program’s ninth annual cardmaking service day, according to instructor Joanne McMahon. Armed with scissors, sparkles and a mountain of stickers, the group crafted 500 Christmas cards that will bring a little joy to their residents and other seniors around the region.

“I know all of them will be super, super excited to get cards,” said Brunswick junior Tiegan McAllaster, who in just a few months has developed close relationships with her residents at Mid Coast Senior Health Center. “Some in particular are going to be very, very overjoyed.”

The holidays can be a lonely time for residents of elder care facilities who have outlived friends and family members, said McMahon, a former member of the Navy Nurse Corps. For some, something as simple as a handmade card can have an outsized impact that lasts well beyond December.

“We have our Christmas cards up, and then we put them away,” McMahon said. “(The residents) don’t put them away. They might look at that card in May, and it still makes them smile.”


Region 10 students Benedita Nanga, left, Joseph Smith, Tiegan McAllaster and Sophia Morin enjoy holiday music as they bedazzle Christmas cards for area seniors on Dec. 9. Photo contributed by Region 10 Technical High School

McMahon spends the year stockpiling crafting supplies for her annual service day. She thought her stash of 2,000 stickers would be more than enough to get the job done this year — yet her students, intent on making each card pop with color, churned through every available resource on the way to their goal.

Two shifts of CNA students led the charge, occasionally joined by members of other Region 10 programs, according to Brunswick senior Sophia Morin, who described the event’s festive atmosphere.

“Culinary came in with cookies for some snacks and some energy,” said Morin, who plans on someday becoming a registered nurse. “We had Christmas music playing in the background. It was kind of like a fun family dinner.”

Soon, the Region 10 students will get to spread that holiday spirit to the residents they have volunteered their time to care for. They will get a chance next week to hand deliver the cards to their residents, a rewarding moment in a relationship valued by student, resident and care facility alike.

“It’s wonderful for the residents to receive these holiday cards from the certified nursing assistant students at Regional 10 Vocational High School,” read a statement from Mid Coast Senior Health. “The residents look forward to visiting with these young students and watching them grow into their careers. We all appreciate the time and thought the students have put into this holiday card project. It means a lot to all of us.”

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