By Jack King
Katherine Vandevender said the idea came to her in the night: Why not let her fourth graders decorate pine cones to look like Christmas trees?
Ideas like this often come to Vandevender, who describes herself as a crafter and a recycler. But, although she devotes a lot of time to thinking of ideas to spark the imaginations of students in a fourth-grade class at Highland Elementary School, she’s not a fourth grade teacher. Instead, she’s a Foster Grandmother in the class of her daughter-in-law Kathy Vandevender.
“The kids love her. She gives them the hugs they need,” Kathy said this week.
“A lot of older people sit around saying they’re bored. This is a wonderful program, but you certainly have to love children,” her mother-in-law said.
Foster Grandparents is a program of the National Senior Service Corp., a part of the federal National Corporation for Community Service, said program coordinator Lucinda Bonney. It’s open to men and women 60 years of age or older who can commit at least 15 hours a week to their project. For low-income participants, it offers a reimbursement of $2.65 an hour and bus passes to help them get to work. For all participants, it offers on-the-job health and life insurance. Those interested can call Bonney at 763-6009.
As for the pine-cone Christmas trees, after Highland Elementary fourth graders had decked them with tinsel and tiny decorations, teachers from Highland Elementary delivered them to some local nursing homes.