In the spirit of giving and gratitude, our Camp Fire Alaska Leadership signed up each and every one of our program sites to provide and create Elder Gift Baskets, as part of RurAL CAP’s Elder Mentor Program. Elder Mentors are individuals age 55 and older with low incomes who support school readiness and improvement of academic engagement among children with special needs. Eligible Elders receive training, support, and a small stipend for their service. 

The Elder Gift Baskets, a culmination of the children’s creativity and heartfelt appreciation, became a tangible expression of gratitude. Each basket was crafted by a different Program Site with items made or brought in by the youth and their families. This collaboration reinforced the importance of community fellowship by serving as a powerful reminder that small acts of kindness make a profound impact. The gift baskets showcased warmth and generosity, transcending generations.

RurAL CAP thanked Camp Fire staff and the children for the incredible gift baskets. They shared stories about the recipients opening their gifts – many were moved to tears. Loretta Huska, an Elder who received a gift, had a message she wanted to share with the children: “I was so touched by the children’s handmade books that I want each of the youth to know how much of an impact they made on my heart.”

Our Learning Pod Program Coordinator, Cisco Mercado, shared insight into the program’s purpose, stating, “One of the things we thrive to do at Camp Fire is to teach our kids about the world beyond their school community.” This project with RurAL CAP exemplifies this sentiment by by allowing children to engage in service learning activities, expanding their insight and encouraging them to think outside of their school.

Cisco emphasized the significance of instilling a sense of gratitude in the youth, stating, “Our youth, with a hug and a smile, show the elder volunteers that their time is greatly appreciated.”

In a world where the hustle and bustle of daily life often takes precedence over selfless acts of kindness, initiatives like these allow community bonds to bolster and shine. The Elder Gift Baskets were the perfect way to illustrate that generosity creates lasting connections and bridges generational gaps by fostering a sense of unity and share humanity. It was a heartwarming exchange, for the children and the Elders, and one they are sure to remember for years to come.