A group of teachers and students at a Lompoc elementary school are reaching out to the community for help as they look to spread holiday cheer among some of the area’s most senior residents.
Four teachers from Fillmore Elementary School started a GoFundMe page last week to solicit donations that they intend to use to pay for buses so that they can take nearly 90 second- and third-grade students to the Lompoc Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Center this month to sing Christmas carols, play their recorders and present a gift quilt that they made for the facility’s residents.
“Part of the curriculum in second grade is reaching out to the community, so we thought this was a great way for the kids to connect,” said Charlene Asmussen, one of the teachers involved.
Fillmore had never been involved in this type of field trip before, but the teachers decided to try it this year after Lisa Culmer, a Lompoc teacher for more than 20 years, had become acquainted with the staff at the Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Center due to having a family member live there.
After making the plans, however, the teachers determined that the facility was too far away from the school’s campus to walk and soon learned that they’d need to come up with about $250 to pay for a pair of buses.
The Fillmore PTA had already raised funds for other activities, so the teachers first thought to ask the students' families to pay for the trip but came to the conclusion that many of them likely wouldn’t be able to afford it.
“And as teachers we had already probably spent like $500 each in our classrooms, so we didn’t want to have to spend (more money) on buses,” Asmussen said.
Ultimately, the teachers turned to the community to help cover the cost. They got permission from the Lompoc Unified School District administration to post the online donation page, Asmussen said, as long as it didn’t mention Fillmore or LUSD.
As of early Tuesday afternoon, the page — located at www.gofundme.com/985x9-help-us-sing-christmas-carols — had brought in $80 from two donors after eight days. The teachers are planning to make the trip Dec. 13, but Asmussen noted that the bill for the buses won’t be due until January.
“Any donation would be greatly appreciated by us and our 88 students!” read a portion of the GoFundMe page.
If the GoFundMe page fails to reach its $250 goal, Asmussen said that the teachers would foot the bill.
“It’d be a bummer, but whatever, it’s worth it for the kids,” she said. “The kids already know we’re going, so we’re not gonna deny them. We’re not gonna not go.”
Asmussen said she remembers participating in a similar field trip to a retirement home when she was in elementary school and said she’s looking forward to having her students now share that experience.
“I mentioned to the kids what an impact it had on my life,” she said. “When I did it as a kid and I was walking through (the senior home), some of the residents were so happy they were crying. And I remember being 8 years old and realizing how I’d touched their lives.”
This isn't the first time the Fillmore students have tried to bring some joy to the skilled nursing center community. This fall, the students made several dozen pairs of nonslip socks for the residents and, according to a director at the facility, the gifts were much appreciated.
Asmussen noted that some of the residents at the senior home don’t have family members or visitors and can’t leave to take part in holiday events, like last week’s parade and community celebration, or to attend concerts. She said the Fillmore students seem to be looking forward to taking some holiday cheer to those residents.
“Us coming to them can make a really big impact,” Asmussen said. “I think the kids understand that, but I think on the actual day it’ll really click for all of the students.”