Holiday celebrations have been very different during the pandemic, but some local students, including Natalia Jefferson and Kacey Pupo from Holy Angels, made time to help others enjoy Passover and Easter.
Jefferson, a sophomore from Cresskill, brought sweets and smiles to some young friends.
“These Easter Bunny drive-bys began last year because my sisters and I wanted to help children celebrate Easter as best they could during the pandemic,” Jefferson said. “As the lockdown occurred last year, everyone was home and couldn't go anywhere, so my mother bought an Easter Bunny costume.”
Jefferson and her sisters took turns dressing up as they greeted family and friends.
“When visiting people's houses, we would stand outside and give out bags of candy and chocolate and take pictures with the children. This year we did the same, and I was so glad to be a part of making kids smile again.”
AHA junior Kacey Pupo of Tappan, New York, and several volunteers arranged a very special flower delivery to the senior residents at Tappan Zee Manor in Nyack, New York.
“Last year, a silver lining of the coronavirus was the creation by a friend of the Pandemic Projects Club,” Pupo explained. “This club initiates various projects to help senior citizens who have been isolated by the pandemic."
"Last year, I helped to organize volunteers and decorate flower planters for 84 residents of Tappan Zee Manor for Passover and Easter, and assisted in other projects during the year. This year, I became co-president of the club (with Tim Kelly of Bergen Catholic) so I could be more involved.”
The volunteers grew the Planter Project to benefit 373 seniors, including 80 residents at Tappan Zee Manor, 80 residents and 4 nuns at Dowling Gardens in Sparkill, 206 veterans at the VA Home in Paramus, a 95-year-old WWII veteran, and an 86-year-old Gold Star Mother.
“I am so grateful I was able to make others’ celebrations of both Easter and Passover a little bit more special, especially in light of the ongoing pandemic,” said Pupo. She added that it is truly incredible to be able to use her talents to bring joy to others.
This project included locating appropriate planters to decorate, arranging sponsorships, caring for the flowers, writing a note to each recipient, and coordinating the volunteers’ activities and the flower deliveries.
“Club volunteers who helped with this project included Daly Dedyo (UPenn), John Dedyo (Albertus Magnus HS); Evelyn, Joe, and Patsy Coleman (Clarkstown and AHA); Devyn Pupo (incoming AHA freshman), Finley and Ella Krokus; Nuala Mahady; Leah Jose; and Grace, Patrick, Joseph, Brigid and Ellie Linehan. Mrs. Beckmann and Mrs. Fodor who mentor the National Junior Honor Society at the South Orangetown Middle School were a big help in alerting students to this service opportunity,” Pupo reported.
TZM Activities Director Pat Brady sent a letter of appreciation to AHA Principal Jean Miller.
“Tappan Zee Manor received a burst of sunshine and flowers when 80 decorated flower pots were delivered to TZM for our residents in time to celebrate Passover and Easter,” Brady wrote. “Kacey Pupo was part of a team that decorated them. Each pot contained pansies or tulips and each container was hand-decorated for the religious occasion.
“Our residents were overjoyed with appreciation of this act of kindness. The flowers are being attended to and, for some, it is a new hobby…It is very heartwarming when young students think about the seniors and then act in such a way to lift their spirits. They are to be commended for their hard work and dedication to such a big and personal project.”