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800 Faith Lutheran Middle School students volunteer in Las Vegas

Updated November 17, 2017 - 5:55 pm

Evelyn Sykes spent most of her Friday morning holding court with a bunch of middle school students — captivating their attention despite the roughly 70-year difference in their ages.

The across-the-ages gathering occurred in the Nevada Senior Services adult daycare center, where the 81-year-old Sykes shared bits of acquired wisdom with sixth-grade students from Faith Lutheran Middle School who were visiting as part of the school’s annual day of service.

“Nothing stops you when you have education,” she told the children, underlining her main message about the importance of staying in school.

Sykes said she raised two children as a single mother, supporting the family as a nurse after her husband died. She always enjoys when young people come around and she wants to remind them to do well in school and stay away from vices.

“I’m so excited today,” she said, clutching about half a dozen handmade holiday cards that the students delivered.

More than 800 students from the middle school visited 23 different locations during the schoolwide service event. In addition to hanging out with seniors, students helped out at Project 150, a nonprofit serving homeless students, Horses4Heroes and the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, among others.

“This is the visual showing of our faith,” Principal Sarah Harper said. “It is so important for our kids to experience this.”

And although quite a few of Harper’s students said they were a little nervous about visiting the adult center — it can be intimidating sometimes to talk to strangers who may have difficulty communicating — the students said they enjoyed the experience.

“It’s helping the community,” said 11-year-old Sabrina Rosenbusch.

“It’s actually been really fun,” added classmate Samantha Schlaf, also 11.

The students helped paint a “Happy Thanksgiving” banner which will be hung in the main room of the senior center once it dries. They also played cards and participated in a “creative dance class.”

Before taking the week off for Thanksgiving, the students were going to gather back at the school for a closing prayer and an opportunity to share what they learned.

“I think it’s important people have someone to talk to,” student Sophia Orr said of her take-away, adding that many of the people in the center don’t have family members to spend the holidays with. “We can be their family, too.”

Contact Meghin Delaney at 702-383-0281 or mdelaney@reviewjournal.com. Follow @MeghinDelaney on Twitter.

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