WASILLA — Primrose Retirement Communities residents and staff recently mingled with students at the Mat-Su College, handing out free gift bags, snacks and school supplies to be kind for kindness’ sake.

“It’s a good thing when they get an opportunity to get out and be with other folks. I think the idea is sort of like a field trip for them to interact. The college is a friendly place and there’s a lot of people here and I think it probably makes them feel good... to see folks in action and connect with the world again,” Mat-Su College Director, Dr. Talis Colberg said.

Many students making their way from class to class were pleasantly surprised once they crossed paths with a senior citizen with a bag of goodies and a smile on their face.

“Most of the students were just in shock. They were like ‘Whoa, really? You’re giving us something? That’s so nice and thank you. Some of them were giving out hugs and handshakes,” Primrose Retirement Communities Sales and Marketing Director Dana Mayeaux said. “It was fun.”

This may have been a surprise to students but not to Primrose or college administration.

“We hope that by performing these small random acts of kindness, we can encourage others to pay it forward. Our residents and staff are such a generous group, and they truly come alive when they have the opportunity to give back and interact with the Mat-Su community,” Primrose Life Enrichment Coordinator Heidiann Gaffney stated in a recent press release.

This was Primrose’s third annual collaboration with the college to celebrate the national holiday Random Acts of Kindness Day.

“We like to go to college because we know college is hard and most of us have all been there. It’s nice to know that other people are thinking about you and encouraging you,” Mayeaux said

The holiday falls on Feb. 17 and encourages people across the nation to enact simple acts of kindness in their respective communities. Mayeaux said the participating Primrose residents had a great time at the college.

“They just really enjoyed visiting with the students, asking them what they’re going to college for, maybe telling them some of their life experiences, encouraging them in that way. I had two retired teachers who went with us so that was kind of nice they got to see the students and talk to them,” Mayeaux said.

The random acts of kindness were apparently contagious. Mayeaux said that several students returned to their table, offering gifts of their own.

Each bag came with a quote, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” Mayeaux said the goal is for Primrose to keep this annual tradition going and hopefully inspire others in the community to help them or create their own acts of kindness next year.

“It’s a nice group of people that come over, a combination of staff and people who live there… I know it’s a great staff over there,” Colberg said.

Anyone wishing to help Primrose next year, can contact the main office. They usually visit the college about a week before the actual holiday.

“They don’t have to do it with us either… If you see somebody struggling to open a car door because their hands are full, or something like that. It makes a big difference, I think, in somebody’s life,” Mayeaux said.

Mayeaux said that she appreciates the college for letting them set up there.

Colberg expressed mutual appreciation for the visit and good deeds.

“Sometimes people will set up shop because they want to promote something; and here, they’re just handing stuff out and smiling,” Colberg said. ““The Random Acts of Kindness is a concept that everyone likes, but doesn’t get acted on that much so, when it happens, I think, it reminds people it isn’t hard to do and possibly has a spin off.”

Primrose is hosting a Healthy Living Fair Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. at their facility. Over 20 local companies are participating to hand out free goodies and connect people to healthy resources.

There will also be a raffle during the event. For more information, call 907-268-3611.

The Mat-Su College is holding a graduation ceremony May 8 with Chad Carpenter as a guest speaker. For more information, call 907-745-9774.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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