At the McGuire Veterans Hospital, junior Michelle Berry and a patient take a break from their game of bingo to enjoy a moment with a volunteer dog and its handler. Berry and 14 other students went to the hospital this Valentine’s Day to visit the veterans.
This trip was sponsored by the Red Cross Club. Junior Allyce Walker says the atmosphere lightened after everyone was acquainted.
“It was extremely quiet, I was expecting them to talk more about what they did,where they went, what they’re ranks were, but they were quiet,” Walker said. “After a while though, everyone warmed up.”
A primary reason that Walker and the kids went on the trip was to learn more about the hospital setting, as it relates to their possible future career.
“It was just to find out how the hospital is, because I want to go into nursing, so I wanted to see how it was in the hospital, and I know that for us to go see them at the hospital would warm their hearts,” Walker said.
Junior Destiny Wescott says students should also go to improve on their college resume.
“I would [encourage students to participate] because it’d look really good on a resume that you took care of people, you helped them,” Wescott said. “It shows your attitude towards the elderly and how you treat individuals.”
Sponsor Anne Roberts says that she hopes the field trip will encourage those like Walker to go into the medical field.
“I hope it [the field trip] allows them to focus on different career opportunities, like physical training, occupational therapy, therapeutic recreation, and of course nursing and doctors,” Roberts said.
Others like Wescott went because they value the older generation.
“I love elderly, I think they get overlooked a lot and I feel they don’t get appreciated,” Wescott said. “They have great personalities and stories to tell, and I think it makes them happy to know someone is listening, and that they have company.”
Roberts wants the field trip to encourage students to do something positive in their spare time.
“I just think it’s a good idea to volunteer time to others and not just focus on yourself,” Roberts said.
Wescott enjoyed being in the company of the veterans and says she would go again.
“Yes [I would go again] because they were really nice people and seeing their faces light when they won at bingo, it really made me happy,” Wescott said.
Walker’s favorite moments came from listening to the veterans telling stories from their past.
“I have to say [my favorite memory was] hearing Joe’s story, he was talking about going to Vegas, he was really funny and entertaining,” Walker said.
The students were not the only one to enjoy the company. Those, like former veteran William Wood loved seeing the young faces.
“I enjoy seeing the youth take an interest in this generation, and I would love it if they came back to see us in the near future,” Wood said.
Roberts hopes to see the good the kids will take away from this experience.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to learn about the veterans and war and how it impacted us,” Roberts said. “For them to be around young people, and [for the students] bringing happiness and joy to them.”