Beta Club 1
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Members of the Ellis D. Parker Elementary School Junior Beta Club share the message in a holiday greeting card created by a student destined to be delivered to a person living in a local nursing home or assisted living facility in the near future. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jim Hughes) VIEW ORIGINAL
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2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Junior Beta Club members (standing) help third graders create cards as part of the club’s Letters Against Isolation program Nov. 18. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jim Hughes) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Ellis D. Parker Elementary School students are hard at work ensuring Wiregrass people in nursing homes and assisted living residences don’t feel left out of the holiday cheer going on all around them this season.

The effort, Letters Against Isolation, is spearheaded by the school’s Junior Beta Club and features students throughout the school creating holiday greeting cards and messages to be sent to the people living in the facilities, according to Ashlyn Lenz, sixth grader and club member.

The club works throughout each school year to live up to its mission statement, let us lead by serving others, she added.

“The club is a group of people who are always about helping the community and serving others,” Lenz said. “We want to make the world a better place for everyone.”

And they’re doing a good job of it, said Wanda Wilds, Junior Beta Club sponsor at the school, adding that more than 250 cards have been created so far and she expects more than 500 to be made in total.

“Letters Against Isolation is a project started by two young girls in California, and it eventually ended up going worldwide – its aim is just to reach out to people,” she said, adding that this is the second year the school has taken part in the program. “The whole school enjoyed doing it last year, so we decided to continue and keep it going.”

Last year, the students sent their cards to people in California, but this year decided to keep it local, according to Shae Fishel, sixth grader and club member

“We realized that there are people in school who have mothers or other family members in nursing homes,” she said. “So why send them all the way to California when there are people in the Wiregrass who need them?

“I love Beta club because I like helping people a lot,” Fishel added. “I like putting a smile on someone’s face. It brings so much joy.”

Two club members agreed, and also shared the contents of a couple of the cards.

“Dear friend, I hope you have amazing plans for Christmas. I know I sure do. I don’t know about you, but I think Christmas is the best time of the year. I believe this because we celebrate Jesus, Santa comes and you get presents. I hope you know that you are not alone for this Christmas. I am thinking about you – hoping you are warm and happy because I am sending you hugs and kisses. I hope you have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Signed, a sixth grade student,” read Bella Proffitt, club member.

“Merry Christmas! What did one snowman say to the other? I smell carrots. Merry Christmas, friend! How are you? I hope you are having an awesome day. Do you like candy canes? I do, but only peppermint and fruit. Have you ever seen snow? I have and I love it. Happy holidays! Just know that we love you! Signed, a sixth grade student,” read Jacob Echeverry, club member.

This project isn’t just a one-off for the Beta Club members, according to Wilds. The club spends its time looking for opportunities to provide service to the community, and in the past has participated in school clean-up and beautification, and other programs.

“In December, they’re thinking of maybe doing something nice for the gate guards during the holidays,” Wilds said of the 18 members of the club. “They’ll talk in our meetings about what to do – they’re always looking for ways to support the community. They’re developing leadership through service.”

Lenz added that in October, the group participated in the Treats for Troops program. “We sent letters and little handmade goodie bags for deployed Soldiers.”

The group also sent posters and candy bowls to the staff at Lyster Army Health Clinic, according to Imiri Tutwiler, sixth grader and club member. “We did it to brighten up their day, and thank them for their service because we realize they are working extra hard because of COVID and the vaccines.”