Eureka Springs students share appreciation for essential workers
By Haley Schichtl
Eureka Springs Elementary students recently sent completed coloring sheets to about 200 essential workers and residents in assisted living facilities in Eureka Springs last week.
Principal Clare Lesieur came up with the idea, and music teacher Donesa Mann and art teacher Shelby Kuchenbecker organized it.
The coloring sheets were delivered May 26 and May 27 to workers at Eureka Springs Hospital, Washington Regional Clinic, Eureka Spring Fire and EMS, Eureka Springs Police Department, Equity Bank, Cornerstone Bank, Arvest Bank, Hart’s Food Center, Eureka Springs Post Office, Peachtree Assisted Living and Brighton Ridge, and residents at Peachtree and Brighton Ridge.
Mann said they found coloring sheets online with phrases like “thinking of you” for the residents and “thank you” for the workers.
“We made some packets for every bus to hand out when they dropped off their food or homework... then they sent them back on the bus,” Mann said. “A lot of kids’ parents pick up their work, so I had some stacks at the school too.”
Mann said 50 or 60 students turned in colored sheets, so she made copies of some of the sheets so that every staff member and assisted living resident could get one, and passed out around 200 total.
“They were very cute pictures and they just perked everyone up here at the store,” Hart’s general manager Jay Galyen said. “They’re very appreciated.”
Eureka Springs police chief Brian Young said that it’s nice that they are showing appreciation for all the workers.
“We all loved it,” Young said. “Everyone is an essential worker in some way. It means a lot to us to see the appreciation, from the children especially. It’s nice to see that they see what we’re doing.”
“The essential workers are going above and beyond, compromising their own health by continuing to serve food, medical services and postal services,” Mann said. “A lot of residents aren’t getting visitors right now, and a lot of them watching news are having a high level of anxiety. If they see that somebody cares about them, they won’t feel so alone.”
She said this was beneficial to the kids, too, because they aren’t getting to go to school and do community projects, field trips and performances.
“The kids were basically pulled from the community,” she said. “They’re not getting to see their friends or grandparents. So this was a way they could reach out and feel useful, and maybe focus not on what they lost, but what they could give.”
April Blisard, a worker at Peachtree Assisted Living, said the residents loved getting coloring pages from the kids.
“They were so proud. Their smiles just lit up the room,” Blisard said. “They sent some to us too. It meant a lot that they took time to do that for everyone.”
She said some of the residents have been starting on coloring pages to send back to the kids.
“We have some professional artists and adult coloring books. They love to color,” Blisard said. “I’m always looking for someone to share their beautiful artwork with so this is a perfect opportunity.”
Mann said she wants to try to start a kind of pen pal program between the residents and the students.
“The purpose of the arts, whether music or visual arts, is to entertain and reach out to an audience,” Mann said.