One group of teenagers from Montreal’s east end decided to do something different this Valentine’s Day: instead of sending a note or gift to their secret crush, they spent their time with the elderly in their neighbourhood.
Students from Rosemount High School paid a special visit to the seniors living at Centre d’Accueil Dante — with gifts in hand.
“I love the elderly. They’re the kindest people. So honestly, I just wanted to come here and spend the afternoon with them,” said Rosemount High School student Samantha Calabrese, who helped organize the event.
“We actually did a bake sale, and we raised around $150. With that, we bought a bunch of goodies for them.”
The goodies included new stuffed toys, fresh flowers, chocolates and handwritten cards. But they also gave the seniors something money can’t buy: their time.
“We’re trying to give somebody a smile on Valentine’s Day,” said student Keila Di Maria.
“Even though you don’t get anything in return, it still makes you happy to see a smile on another person’s face because they don’t have a lot of [loved ones] sometimes,” said student Alexia Tallariti Falato.
For Antonia Diodati, who is 102, this is a day she’ll remember.
“I’m so happy. They brought us beautiful things,” she said in Italian. “Beautiful flowers, stuffed animals, the beautiful young students stayed by my side.”
Rosaria Melino, who is 88, used to celebrate Valentine’s Day with her husband. But today she was happy to mark the date with the teenagers.
“I enjoyed it very much. They are great students, and I’m very thankful to everybody.”
Vince Lacroce, a spiritual animator at the English Montreal School Board, made it possible for the students to visit the seniors’ home, despite it being a school day.
“I recently lost my grandmother, and I remember all the lessons she taught me about the importance of life. I think there are great life lessons — something students may not always get in a classroom,” Lacroce said.
He hopes students will remember that Valentine’s Day is not just about couples but about love and compassion for everyone.
“I’m seeing people smiling, and it’s making me warm inside,” said Di Maria.