This is the fourth Valentine's Day the students, in an effort to raise money for Doernbecher Children's Hospital, deliver cards to seniors

LINDSAY KEEFER - Felipa Villareal, a resident at Silver Creek Senior Living, receives a balloon, homemade card and candle on Feb. 14 from Success High School students as part of their fundraiser Surprise a Senior, Help a Child.A university study recently determined that nearly half of U.S. seniors report feeling lonely.

The University of California, San Francisco study also said people 60 years and older who reported feeling lonely saw a 45 percent increase in their risk for death and a 59 percent greater risk of mental and physical decline than their more social counterparts.

It's statistics like these that motivate Success High School students to pay annual visits to Woodburn retirement facilities on Valentine's Day with cards and balloons as part of their fundraiser Surprise a Senior, Help a Child.

The fundraiser is for Doernbecher Children's Hospital as part of the Bulldog Doernbecher Challenge the high school puts on every year.

"Helping kids is great, but Woodburn has such a large senior community here, that we thought this was a little something that could have a local impact," said Principal Jennifer Dixon.

Students advertised with some local businesses and civic groups that for $10, they would surprise a senior. About 50 seniors received a gift this year. Among supporters were French Prairie Kiwanis, Brown Insurance, Webb Chiropractic Clinic, Legacy Financial, Columbia Bank and Patient Support Services USA.

"It's important to give back to the community," Success senior Juleiby Aguirre said about why she got involved. "Some have been very emotional. Some ask for hugs. It's been really nice."

For the most part, the seniors are selected by staff at the care facilities.

"We picked people who would appreciate a pick-me-up," Julia Seibel, life enrichment director at Silver Creek Senior Living, said, noting how some people don't like to leave their rooms and others don't have family who visits. "It makes them feel like someone cares."

Dixon said she's impressed with her students every year.

"It can be hard to visit someone who is frail or can't get up and they're so good and kind and confident," Dixon said. "Some have said they want to come back and just visit."

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