Residents of Vincentian Marian Manor in Pittsburgh’s Banksville neighborhood live above a first-floor childcare center, and under normal circumstances, the arrangement works out well.

“They get to do some activities with the kids,” Selva Priya said, recalling the experiences of her daughters, Kavya and Oviya, when they attended. “That is a plus for having the preschool and the senior home together.”

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has precluded residents of the personal care community from interacting with the children, a situation that prompted Priya to consider the feelings of the senior residents.

“I’m sure they will be feeling lonely, especially during the holiday season,” she said. “It’s going to be tough for most of them.”

And so the South Fayette Township art instructor assigned her 50 students to make greeting cards for the residents and staff members at Vincentian Marian Manor. The youngsters responded with 150 cards.

“It’s a win-win situation for both. They create something, and the receiver is happy, as well,” Priya said.

The students got creative with what they wrote on the cards, as well. Nine-year-old Adith Loveson, for example, vowed “I will protect you” alongside his artwork of a warrior battling COVID-19.

“It was so heartwarming to look at all the messages from the students, from their point of view,” Priya said. “I lined up everything and took a picture and video, and I was about to cry.”

As for the response from residents, Priya received exceptionally positive feedback.

“The students artwork is beautiful and it was so thoughtful of them to share their talents with us,” one resident said.

“I love the bright colors and Christmas message,” another added.

“What a wonderful surprise – the kids did a GREAT job,” yet another responded.

Priya also had her students, most of whom have been taking lessons remotely during the pandemic, create paper snowflakes to submit to the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in State College.

The annual event, held on a virtual basis this year, features a community craft project to which plenty of people can contribute, with the snowflakes to be made into a hanging sculpture for the atrium of the State College Municipal Building.

Again, the Priya Arts students accepted the assignment with enthusiasm, coming up with more than 200 snowflakes.

For Valentine’s Day, Priya plans a project to honor frontline workers who have contributed so much on behalf of others during the pandemic.

Last February, her students created heart-shaped messages of kindness that were made into an 8-by-8-foot banner for the UPMC-Hillman Cancer Center in Shadyside.

And she plans to continue coming up with art projects that can help brighten the lives of others.

“Any small act can make a big impact,” she said.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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