LSU nursing students provide support for grandparents group

Myra Engrum
Myra Engrum

For a dozen years, LSU nursing students have learned something about helping others by working with the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren support group.

Inspired by the stories from the grandparents, pre-nursing students in Academic and Professional Writing come up with projects.

For the spring semester, three classes of 22 students each came up with such projects as a dance, Easter Egg hunt, brochures and collections of goods and money.

“All they did was hear the story of the grandparents and it lit a fire in them,” said Ann H. Martin, the English instructor who teaches the course. “They’ve got a new understanding how to help the community. Of course, after nursing school, that will be their career — helping — but now they are going to understand even more deeply how they are knitted into the community.”

The students raised hundreds of dollars selling handmade hair ties, collected hundreds of pounds of canned goods and such home supplies as toilet paper and paper towels, and sponsored events including an Easter Egg hunt at Highland Road BREC Park, where the students gave 100 children baskets full of candy.

Another group collected more than 50 stuffed toy animals, mostly teddy bears, for the grandchildren.

“The teddy bears are something they can hold and is always there for them,” LSU student Allie Kapera said.

LSU student Katy Graves, who grew up in St. Francisville, placed collection barrels in businesses and churches around that town and filled an SUV with goods.

“I wanted to try to physically meet the needs of the grandparents and their grandchildren — perhaps a meal for a night or clothes for the kids on Saturday,“ Graves said.

In March, the students hosted a dance for the grandparents.

LSU students said they learned plenty from the grandparents.

“It showed me how really selfless these women are and how they are making up for mistakes of the parents,” LSU student Murphy Kingsley said.

“It really opened our eyes to some of the hard situations people go through in life and we learned to really appreciate the little things,” said LSU student Emily Gundlach.

Grandparents said they were impressed with the students.

“It just amazed me that one group tried to collect toilet paper,” said Brenda Swanigan, who is raising four grandchildren, ages 13, 10, 9 and 7, and is board president of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. “It makes them realize that little things in life truly matter to grandparents and their grandchildren.”

Danna Spayde, who co-founded Grandparents Raising Grandchildren 20 years ago with Dorothy “Dot” Thibodeaux, said she appreciated the students’ efforts to make the community more aware of the support group.

“As the years go by some of them may find themselves in the situation where they are raising their own grandchildren,” Spayde added.