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‘Love boxes’ a hit with seniors

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The Teen Advisory Board gave “love boxes” to 100 senior citizens this week. Pictured presenting boxes to Yvette Saunders (centre) who appeared on behalf of Collin Simmons, the BIU Seniors Club coordinator are, from left: Aaliyah Haffar, Jazara Codrington-Edmead, Lalee Thomas and Jasmeen Codrington-Edmead, TAB co-coordinator (Photograph supplied)

“Love boxes” were handed out to more than 100 of the island’s seniors this week, courtesy of a group of teenagers eager to give back.

Members of the Youth Library’s Teen Advisory Board packaged a selection of “essentials” that were delivered in time for Valentine’s Day. Among the items mixed in with candy were hand lotion, sanitiser, lip balm, deodorant and shampoo.

“We wanted to really just find a way to give back to our community and to our seniors,” said Jasmeen Codrington-Edmead, 18. “Usually every year we do a seniors’ tea [to celebrate] Valentine’s Day but because of the pandemic we weren't able to do that for the past three years. So we decided a good alternative, keeping distant from each other and keeping everyone safe, was to give love boxes to the seniors.”

The Teen Advisory Board is open to students between the ages of 14 and 18. The roughly 18-strong group meets Wednesdays at the Church Street library where they “create and participate in literacy-based programming”. The hours they put in go towards community service requirements for school.

Jasmeen, who is now studying at the Bermuda College, got involved a few years ago while looking for “a way to be involved with my community”.

“My mom kind of made me join but as the years progressed, I realised that I genuinely did enjoy coming to it. I didn't enjoy it at first but over time I learnt to love helping my community and I really enjoyed giving back something every single year.”

Aaliyah Haffar, a 14-year-old student at Somersfield, signed up after she discovered a pamphlet about the Teen Advisory Board in the library.

“We do lots of events. During Halloween we did a haunted house and we raised money for the library. We did the senior love boxes, and we're thinking about doing buddy reading to help those who aren’t as good in reading or need help with reading,” she said.

“We do a puppet shows on Saturdays for the younger kids; we do a pyjamarama, which is where the kids will spend a day in pyjamas the library reading books.”

The Bermuda Youth Library is looking for “sharp and driven” students between the ages of 14 and 18 to join its Teen Advisory Board.

The group meets at the Church Street library every Wednesday from 4pm until 5.15pm.

“The Youth Library’s Teen Advisory Board is a group of teens committed to making the library a better and more interesting place for teens. Your job would be to help design, plan, and implement new programmes and events geared to students such as yourself,” said Marla Smith, the Youth Services librarian.

“This is your opportunity to obtain your community service hours and make an enormous difference in our library and the community.”

For more information: 295-0487; mlsmith@gov.bm

Prior to the pandemic, the board would honour about 85 seniors each year with tea at St Mary’s Church Hall in Warwick.

“We served them sandwiches,” said Jasmeen. “And then we would like have performances [on the] piano or someone would play the violin or sing. And we would give them a goody bag at the end.

“It's just always been an annual thing that we would do but we weren't able to really give back to that community for the past few years. I think that the seniors are the ones in the community that deserve a lot of love so [we decided to] focus on them and just show how appreciative we are of them.”

Wholesalers Butterfield & Vallis and BGA donated the toiletries and treats that went into the love boxes; the students then contacted various seniors’ clubs, asking if their members would be interested in receiving them.

“We had feedback from a couple of places and they said that they really enjoyed it and that they were thankful for the boxes that we gave them,” Aaliyah said.

Teen Advisory Board members Jazara Codrington-Edmead, Aaliyah Haffar and Jasmeen Codrington-Edmead, the TAB co-coordinator, present “love boxes” to Captain Kendacy Barnes of the Salvation Army (third from left). Also pictured is a young Salvation Army member. (Photograph supplied)

The experience has taught Jasmeen to be more “grateful” for the island’s seniors.

“[I think] we should just really show how appreciative we are. Sometimes [the gift you give] can really make a change in somebody's life.”

Aaliyah was initially a bit nervous about joining a group where she didn’t know anyone else but is now happy that she did – and recommends that other students also give it a try.

“I came from Somersfield and I didn't know everyone else. It was tough because everyone else was already friends and somewhat knew each other. But after a couple of weeks I started to talk more and now I pretty much don't have a problem with speaking because I know them well.

“I don't want to sound [like a] cliché but if you stick with it, if you are consistent with it, it truly does get better. And at the end it will be worth it; you will feel a sense of accomplishment with yourself because you're giving back to the community and you're also proving something to yourself – that consistency and persistence is key.”

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Published February 18, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated February 19, 2022 at 8:04 am)

‘Love boxes’ a hit with seniors

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