By William Thompson
Ray Firestone, 82, got a surprise on his birthday Friday when youth from American Legion Post 77 in Logan showed up at Autumn Blessings assisted care center with a handmade blanket and a pound cake.
Firestone, who has difficulty speaking, managed to say how nice it was to receive a birthday surprise. Jessica Aguilera, a member of American Legion Post 77’s junior auxiliary, said reactions vary when the youth show up once a month at Autumn Blessings to wish a resident happy birthday.
“Some of them say ‘thank you’ and some of them cry,” Aguilera said. “One man actually cried when we sang him happy birthday.”
Valerie Gallegos, an American Legion Post auxiliary member, said it’s not uncommon for residents of Autumn Blessing to have no family in the surrounding area.
“It’s always a little awkward at first when the kids show up, but everybody warms up after awhile,” she said.
Adrian Franco, an honorary member of the Sons of the American Legion, said he had no problem chatting with folks in their 80s and 90s.
”It’s easy for me to talk with them,” Franco said. “They ask me how I’m doing and they say they like it here at the nursing home.”
Tamara Aguilera, a junior auxiliary member, said it was a little scary at first when she started interacting with senior citizens.
”I’m used to senior citizens now,” she said. “What is harder for me is when we have to deliver food to hungry children in Amarillo. It’s really hard to see how hungry those kids are.”
The Logan youth pay a birthday visit once a month to Autumn Blessings and deliver food weekly to hungry children in Amarillo.
MIllie Patton, American Legion Post 77 auxiliary member, said about 16 youth participate in charitable activities sponsored by post 77. Patton managed to get Firestone to talk a little Friday.
“He kept asking me about the old Mosquero school, where he went to school,” Patton said. “I told him they have a new school there now, but he didn’t quite believe me. He said he was going to eat some of his birthday cake and share the rest with friends.”