Monroe Elementary students to warm hearts at St. Joseph’s Manor

The 160 residents of the St. Joseph’s Manor Care and Rehabilitation Center in Trumbull will receive gift bags this Christmas that are sure to bring smiles to their faces, especially the seniors who don’t get a lot of visits.

Monroe Elementary School students made holiday cards and painted rocks for bags they had decorated for Michael and the Holiday Angels, a nonprofit that will give the gifts to the assisted living and nursing home facility.

The bags also contain bear figurines and tiles Monroe residents painted with positive messages like, “Merry Christmas”, “Have a nice day” and “Bee yourself. You are amazing!”

On Wednesday, Michael Murray, of Trumbull, a bone cancer survivor who founded Michael and the Holiday Angels, visited Monroe Elementary School to collect the kids’ work.

“Thank you. These are the bags you decorated,” Murray told the first and fourth grade classes inside the cafeteria. “You guys did an awesome job and I just want to say a big thank you from Michael and the Holiday Angels.”

Donna Palmer, director of life enrichment at St. Joseph’s Manor, and Melissa Hripak, its director of admissions and marketing, accompanied Murray on his visit.

“Thank you very much for your hard work and your kindness,” Palmer said to the children. “God bless you and thank you again.”

The bags will also contain small bags of candy. Murray said he asked if anyone had left over Halloween candy and people donated 20 pounds worth.

Principal Kelly Svendsen said students of first grade teachers Melissa Lardi, Paula Pavlik and Leslie Sekelsky, and fourth grade teachers Sue Dixon, Sabrina Phillips and Chris Treat participated in the community service project.

“I think it’s really important,” Svendsen said of her students involvement. “We’re always teaching kids about kindness and this is a really positive experience for them.”

Michael Murray, left with twins Emilia and Isabella Viteri, both 12, and their brother Johnny, 10.

“The first and fourth graders have been doing projects together,” she added. “We try to get the older kids to take the younger ones under their wing.”

After stopping by Monroe Elementary School, Murray drove to Union Savings Bank, where Assistant Branch Manager Angela Viteri’s three children, twins Emilia and Isabella, 12, and Johnny, 10, put the gift bags together.

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