Written Gifts are seasonal stories and poems written to be given as gifts to senior citizens at the Skagit Convalescent Center during Christmas. I have done Written Gifts with my students for 12 seasons and each year it is one of my most popular academic programs. A simple idea, it is a gem in the continual pursuit to find real audiences for real writers. Each student is required to write 4 poems, 4 short stories, and make four cards to qualify to deliver the gifts. Every year my students compose between 200-300 written gifts for the seniors. Commitment to task and quality are high for students who know their work will be genuine gifts to real people who may be bedridden or with few personal contacts.
I usually take 30-50 students to deliver gifts; they are always on their best behavior with very little direct supervision. We decorate three cafeterias with our gifts and then circulate to read our best work to all the residents, especially those who are bedridden or in wheelchairs. Students are apprehensive at first about reading their work to stangers, but soon find out the pleasures of giving of themselves. After a few tries, most are pleading to go to another wing, or go back to the cafeteria to get more gifts to give personally. Written gifts are what learning is all about: giving of yourself freely and making a difference through your own creativity and self-expression.
Thanks To All The Seniors For Being Such a Receptive Audience! And Thanks To All My Student Authors Who Were So Generous With Their Writing and Creative Talent!!