Students at Joseph H. Messina Children’s Center brought holiday cheer to Southwest Florida seniors by delivering gifts, cards and Christmas music to their next-door neighbors at Page Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Fort Myers.

“At Messina, we teach our children about giving back and empathy early in life,” said Pam Goldsmith, a teacher for Child Care of Southwest Florida. “Some seniors don’t get to see kids and have that interaction, so the holidays are a great time for the children to go over and mingle with them. We can’t forget about our elders and to give back to them.”

For the last eight years, Joseph H. Messina Children’s Center has collected donations of socks and scarves to keep the feet and hearts of their older neighbors warm around Christmas. On Dec. 17, children from the Lions class visited Page Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center to deliver gifts, handmade cards and sing Christmas carols to residents.

“It brightens up their whole day,” said Jamie Shaw, activity director for Page Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center. “It’s like having a ton of grandchildren around Christmas. They will talk about this for weeks and weeks to come.”

Shaw says the gesture was extra special since residents have not had group visits in nearly two years. Due to COVID-19 safety measures, children’s gifts and Christmas cards had to be dropped off last year.

The Joseph H. Messina Children’s Center is part of Child Care of Southwest Florida, a nonprofit that provides family-centered care to help students thrive academically at an early age. At Joseph H. Messina Children’s Center, students are encouraged to participate in the learning process to practice good observation skills and grow their love for learning. The center provides parents with a safe, nurturing environment for children up to 8 years old.

About Child Care of Southwest Florida

Child Care of Southwest Florida, Inc. (CCSWFL) is a nonprofit early childhood education provider with five learning centers in Lee and Hendry counties that serve more than 400 children from 6 weeks to 8 years old. Each center is accredited through the National Accreditation Commission for Early Learning Leaders and is recognized as a Gold Seal Quality Care Program through the Florida Department of Children and Families. All CCSWFL locations have five-star ratings through the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida. CCSWFL follows the nationally recognized, research-based Creative Curriculum, with a goal of creating safe, nurturing learning environments that develop young minds, support families, strengthen the community and secure the future. Through its participation in the USDA’s Child Food Care Program, each child has access to a healthy, nutritious breakfast, lunch and snacks. Sponsor, volunteer and donation opportunities are available. For more information, please visit ccswfl.org.