MAYVILLE, N.D. – Amid friendly chatter and jingling bells, a group of about a dozen people – along with a bunch of four-legged friends –stopped outside residents’ windows at a Mayville nursing home, Saturday, Dec. 12, waving and wishing them “Merry Christmas.”
“This is so enjoyable,” Melinda Martin said as she held her dog and waved to a resident in Luther Memorial Home.
Martin, who lives on a farm near Clifford, N.D., led an effort to bring some holiday cheer to the nursing home residents. She organized the window-to-window parade and asked others to bring pets, signs reading “Merry Christmas,” “We are thinking of you” or other cheerful messages, or anything else they wanted to use to connect with residents.
Jackee Lerol, of Portland Junction, N.D., brought her year-and-a-half-old Golden Retrievers, Dara and Drusky, and Schela Gander, of Portland, N.D., brought her dog, Ozzie, to greet the residents.
One resident who opened her window said, as the group approached, she was eager to see the horses she’d heard were coming and hoped the fire truck would not block her view.
Teagan Domier, of Portland, soon walked her horses, Roux and Dakota -- bedecked in colorful Christmas garlands, bells and ornaments -- by the lady’s window, accompanied by Alayna Wry, an NDSU student from Fargo.
“It’s fun,” said Joe Morowski, of Portland, noting that he also had experience as Santa Claus.
Beverly Trusdell, of Northwood, who came dressed as Santa Claus, smiled and waved at residents who watched from their windows.
“It’s something to do,” Trudell said.
Three members of the Mayville Fire Department also brought their fire truck and joined the parade.
The nursing home residents are essentially on lockdown and cannot have visitors, due to precautions brought on by the pandemic, Martin said. The afternoon event was a way “to bring some cheer to the residents.”
The nursing home has been testing residents for COVID-19 twice a week, she said, and the outcome usually reveals one or more positive tests.
“We’ve had 14 (test positive), with one passing,” she said. “When somebody gets the coronavirus, everybody knows it.”
Martin said her group planned to walk around the whole building, “so everyone – whether they’re in the dining room or activities room, by the doors, whatever, they can see us.”
She has made it a habit to do good works that brighten someone else’s day.
“I always try to find some way to bring some happiness to other people,” said Martin, who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and post traumatic stress disorder.
“I try to do one good deed each month. I’m so excited about doing this; it’s coming from my heart to do things for people," she said.
In the past, she’s come up with other ideas to lift others’ spirits, including a drive to benefit the food bank, she said.
“Or, I may ask a question on Facebook, and then bring a gift” to the person who answers it correctly, she said. In 2011, she organized a Christmas party for American Crystal Sugar workers who were locked out of their jobs.
She is certain that participating in an event like this one at Luther Memorial Home “benefits those who do it, too, not just the residents,” she said.
To encourage participation in the event, Martin said she reached out to her many friends in the area.
“There are a lot of good-hearted people in Mayville,” she said. “I wish other people would do something similar.”