February 11, 2003
Construction paper, love brighten patients' day
By Lisa Uzzle Gates
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—They are just bits of construction paper and glue but the love shines through.
That’s the message Pauline Seward of Raymond received when she got the construction paper heart last week during her stay at Methodist Rehabilitation Center.
It was one of more than 100 valentines third graders at Jackson Academy made for patients of the hospital.
“I love it. They are so sweet to do this,” Seward said of the students’ efforts.
The tradition began about 10 years ago with Mary Margaret Hickman, third grade teacher at JA, whose mother was a former patient at the hospital. “We had a good experience there and I wanted to do something for the hospital. The patients seem to really enjoy it,” Hickman said.
Hickman said she talks to students about the hospital and the different types of illnesses the therapists treat before they make their cards. “We talk about the fact that they do a lot of therapy. The patients work hard all day long and we feel this is a little something we can do to cheer them up,” Hickman said.
Sandra Walker, director of volunteer services for Methodist Rehab, said hospital volunteers hand out the valentines and others are put in the elevators. “It’s always a success. It brightens the day for the patients and the volunteers. And it’s nice just to see them in the elevator as you are going through your day,” Walker said.
Lydia Ellison, a Methodist volunteer, handed out the valentines. “We had a wonderful day,” she said. “We got to visit with every patient. The valentines brought tears of happiness. One told us that this was a very, very sad day for them, but that made it a little better. We heard so many wonderful, positive things.”
When the students make the valentines, they may not know who they are going to, but they understand the patients have lives similar to theirs. Mary Hastings Garraway, of Jackson, addressed hers to “grandpa” because she was sure there was a grandpa at the hospital. But there is one from about three years ago that stands out above all others in Walker’s memory.
“It said, “You are my special friend. I pray for you every day. I love you so very much,” Walker recalls. “Then you opened it up and it said, “To Whom it May Concern.”
Methodist Rehabilitation Center patient Pauline Seward accepts a valentine from Jackson Academy third grade students Garner Bush and Mary Garraway.