UWSP students surprise seniors with holiday decorations

STEVENS POINT, Wis (WSAW) -- The senior citizens living at the Portage County Health Care Center will wake up to a surprise Tuesday Morning thanks to UW-Stevens Point students.

On Monday evening more than 20 students arrived to deck the halls with boughs of holly in hopes of spreading holiday joy. It’s a tradition the university has organized for the last 15 years for the residents.

“I like to be able to interact with the community,” explained Haley Dunn who is a senior studying education at UW-Stevens Point. “In the field of education, you are not only teaching the students but interacting with their families.”

Most residents were in their rooms by the time the students started decorating, but a few stayed up to reminisce.

“We always had decorations at home so it feels like a home away from home for me,” said Angie Skarzynski who has lived there for nearly eight years. “We would never do it on our own if not for their help.”

Students decorated the community space with Christmas trees, a miniature Mr. and Mrs. Claus display, reindeer and even fake snow.

“It’s really nice to watch for us,” said Charlotte Wierzba, who lives in the center. “Halloween flew by, Thanksgiving just passed us and now all of a sudden it’s Christmas time.”

"It's our way of showing our appreciation to the community and show respect for our elders," included Lynda Fernholz, associate dean for the School of Education at UWSP.

Each student hopes the extra lights in the room brings more joy to the residents there.