Lifting spirits one care package at a time

Adopt-A-Senior helps boost positivity and morale during an unlikely end of the year for seniors

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Angela Pertier John

"Adopted" senior Sydni Johns opens a care package from Linnea Schwartz in her front yard on May 7. John is one of dozens of seniors "adopted" by the community as their senior year ends during a state-wide shelter-in-place order.

Jared Bysiek, Features Editor

A senior stares at their Chromebook, heaving a heavy sigh. These last few months are important to them, with events like prom, and the jump from high school life into their future. But due to the current pandemic and quarantine, these final moments have been tarnished. With their last stretch of high school being stuck at home with online classes, motivation and morale have begun to sink. The doorbell rings, and their parents excitedly call them out from their room. Once they head over, a smile comes to their face as they find a care package full of sweets and tiny gifts sent to them from another parent. This care package is thanks to the Adopt-a-Senior program in McHenry, and has been a gift for many.

Adopt-A-Senior is a program started all over the country, in which parents put up their seniors for “adoption” on the Facebook group page. If another parent is interested, they can talk to the parent and get their address, as well as information about the senior’s favorite foods and snacks. Then, that student will get packages of snacks or food delivered every few days to their home from the parent. 

Alice Diaz, the one responsible for starting the program in McHenry, found inspiration from a friend and a desire to help make the end of seniors’ school year a little sweeter.

“I actually saw [the program] from a friend in Washington State for his senior, and I thought it would be an amazing idea for our seniors,” she said. “They are stuck at home with the only way outside being to the store or work. They can’t even hang out with their friends or girlfriend/boyfriend. McHenry seniors didn’t have ditch day or a prom or even senior srank. They are missing some of the best times of their life.” 

While Diaz began this after inspiration from a friend, she still didn’t expect it to receive the traction and support that it did.

“I can not believe how fast this went. I was extremely nervous doing it because I did not know how well this would turn out,” she said. “[Now] we have over 400 members in our group, and I know some don’t even have a Senior and just want to Adopt one…I am just happy that parents want to help the seniors.”

Senior Brianna Zeiger is one of the many to get “adopted” by the Phannenstill family looking to lift a senior’s spirits. And lift her spirits it did.

“It felt really great, it’s nice to see the community come together and honor the seniors during this time,” she said. “The first visit from Cori, my friend, and her mom Becky, they dropped off snacks and a sign to put outside of my house! And the second time around, they dropped off more snacks and my favorite Burt’s Bees moisturizers!”

Zeiger has appreciated the creation of this program in McHenry, and voiced her opinion on why it’s the perfect thing for seniors during this time.

“I know I have been taking this whole situation really hard, and I am sure many others feel the same,” she said. “We missed out on a lot, so it’s really nice for people to try to make our senior year as special as possible. I think this program is really amazing, I appreciate whoever started it.”

Another senior who has been “adopted” is Sydni John, who was “adopted” by the Schwartz family, and received a pleasing care package.

“It felt amazing to have been “adopted” by another family,” she said. “It made me feel loved, special, and reminded that there is still good going around despite all the challenges occurring right now … I received a Starbucks gift card, two store bought starbucks drinks in glass bottles, a candle, a wallet/purse with many compartments, a box of chocolates, a card, and flowers. It was all inside of a 2020 gift bag and left on my porch.”

John is also very grateful for this program in McHenry, feeling it can help any senior’s day, and encourages anyone to participate if they can.

“I think that this is a very brilliant and heartwarming program, it is very thoughtful and warm felt,” she said. “It will definitely make any senior’s day better, and really shows us that it’s the small things & the thought that matters the most. I’m glad I could be a part of it, and I encourage everyone to get involved in this. It is definitely a memory to experience, and will bring nothing but happiness.”

Adopt-A-Senior has helped many seniors feel better at a time when their final months at high school have been disappointing to say the least, and Alice Diaz has stated its importance as we are at home.

“It’s important for the Seniors because they are being shown that they are not forgotten,” she said. “Other parents want to make them feel loved, and it’s amazing seeing all the smiles on their face from the photos parents post. I love seeing my son smile when I tell him he has a package out front. He’s like a little kid on Christmas.”

Seniors may be missing out on some key times at the end of their high school, some of which will hopefully come back in the summer. But while seniors are stuck at home, a little care package can go a long way to help lift their spirits.