FHSU sonography students provide volunteer service to Locust Grove Village
HAYS, Kan. — Easter decorations, clothing, jewelry, books and shampoo are among the many items that residents at the Locust Grove Village Long Term Care and Assisted Living facility in La Crosse are able to shop for during the monthly experience they call “The Store.”
This program is a unique project developed at Locust Grove Village, and students in the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program at Fort Hays State University volunteered to help. They help set up the displays, serve as personal shoppers for the residents and pack up after the event.
Under the direction of Sandy Nelson, activity director, residents participate in various activities to earn redeeming dollars to spend at the store at the end of each month. Through community donations of gently used items, newly purchased items, and monetary gifts, residents are able to shop.
“For many residents, having the ability to go shopping outside the facility is limited, and they enjoy the experience,” said Brenda Hoopingarner, chair of FHSU’s Department of Allied Health and director of the sonography program.
When residents enter the store, student volunteers help them shop and try on clothing. They visit with the residents and find out what kinds of things they like and what sizes they need.
“The residents especially loved the special attention the student volunteers gave them,” said Hoopingarner. “I was very proud of all of the students.”
“When I arrived that day to work with them, they were already setting up displays, hanging clothes, and marking items,” she said. “Having 10 students volunteer made the setting up much quicker and easier for the staff. When the store opened up, all of them were so kind and caring. Volunteering in this setting really helped the students experience working with the elderly, and they all seemed to have a natural ability. They were energetic, but very kind, patient, and caring.”
“I loved getting to know the residents and being able to give them a fun day,” said Garden Plain senior Paula Mans.
“Just being able to help them shop and feel independent and accomplished again was beyond rewarding,” she said. “I was able to help one woman in particular who was so happy to be able to get out of her room, buy things for herself and gifts for her family. Seeing her light up with joy made the time spent all the more worth it.”
Hoopingarner has a personal connection to Locust Grove Village: Her mother is a resident there.
“I have spent a lot of time there in the evenings and weekends and have gotten to know most of the residents,” said Hoopingarner. “I saw the opportunity for our students to volunteer and when I asked them, they were immediately on board. The program is such an important one.”
She continued, “I was impressed that my mother would participate in various activities to earn her dollars to be able to purchase items in the store. Shopping for her own personal items provides her with an opportunity to still have that independence in purchasing items of her liking. She loves to shop.
“There is no doubt that ‘The Store’ is something that she looks forward to as well as many of the other residents. So, it was a very rewarding experience overall. I would like to thank Sandy Nelson and everyone at Locust Grove Village for the opportunity provided for our students. In the end, I would say that it was a life enriching event for all involved.”