Driving past the Stanton Health Center, the Christmas decorations don’t immediately seen. After all, they’re not facing the highway because the decorations aren’t for those passing by.
“It’s not the highway we’re decorating for, it’s for the residents,” said Jeff Flood, who spearheaded a massive community Christmas decoration project that has literally lit up Stanton’s nursing home area. “There are areas you can’t see from the road that are pretty good size that have a lot of lights. They face the residents.”
Flood, who is the second generation to work at the facility, came up with the idea for the resident lights while hanging decorations outside. He enlisted the help of his wife, Jenn, who is the cheer and dance sponsor at Stanton Community Schools. Her students jumped on board to help collect both decorations and funds. The focus, Flood said, has been entirely on making this a project for the residents.
“The residents are really excited about it. They enjoyed watching us put up the decorations and couldn’t wait until it got dark, so they could see them light up. That’s why we did it. It makes everyone feel good to help a little.”
Due to the COVID-19 situation and Directed Health Measures, the facility isn’t allowing visitors. Residents must remain in their rooms.
For Arynn Spence, a Stanton sophomore, she wanted to help decorate because of her mom, Kim, who runs Shear Country. Kim Spence spent much time working at the facility before COVID struck in March.
“My mom loves the ladies and guys out there who she always saw every week, but she hasn’t been able to go since COVID,” Spence said. “Knowing how much it meant to her to see them in the windows and being happy, that really made me want to help more.”
As everyone decorated, Spence said she and her mom, along with others, had conversations with residents through the windows. One resident in particular, lit up while watching the process.
“She was really happy when she found out we were decorating it for the residents to look at,” Spence said. “You could really see the joy in her face as we talked about it.”
April Johnston, who is the facility administrator, said Flood approached her about the project, and she immediately approved it. She said it has exceed any expectations she had for the decorations.
“He took the reins on this,” Johnston said. “Jeff did the advertising and reached out to everyone. I’m impressed we have this number of items. He went above and beyond to ensure these residents are having some type of normalcy through all of this.”
Johnston said while she’s impressed with the amount of decorations up — and Flood said even more are coming — she’s not surprised by Stanton’s reaction to the project. The people of Stanton, she said, support one another, especially in tough times.
“One thing I have learned about the Stanton community is that it comes together in a time of need,” Johnston said.
Flood said decorations have come from friends and family, as well as strangers. Funds donated have been spent at Stanton Hardware and Menards, both donated even more decorations.
And every decoration placed has the same requirement: It must face the resident windows. Looking at the lights, Flood remains in awe by the project.
“It’s turned into much more than I thought it would be,” he said proudly. “It’s heartwarming people are doing this.”