Youth Volunteer Corps brings smiles to assisted living home

Oscar Garcia, 14, was thumbing through a book filled with photos of a jaguar, flowers and a bright blue butterfly.

“Wow!” said Wilma Johnson as she watched on.

Johnson, who said her age is too old to mention, was among the residents of the Heritage of Overland Park, an assisted living home, entertained by the Youth Volunteer Corps of Kansas City on Saturday.

For 25 years, the group has given area youths an opportunity to participate in volunteer projects throughout the year.

One of the projects was to visit Heritage residents and join in storytelling, games, exercise and singing.

A couple of teens even offered a quick course on compiling a journal.

“It’s nice to see them smile,” said Sarah Trout, 18, a student at Johnson County Community College.

The Heritage was decked out for the holidays, including a Christmas tree.

But the Youth Volunteer Corps aims to serve beyond Christmas.

Jordan Gartman, 14, of Olathe, has been volunteering for about a month and already has signed up for all of 2013.

“I’m going to continue to do it,” Gartman said. “Being here today makes me respect old people more.”

Among the activities was a lively game of bingo, but it ended on a collegial note as Johnson won the last round.

“I want everyone to have one of these,” she said as she proudly held up her prize — a roll of Smarties candy.