John Parker Keaton, 4, has fun with some of the other kids in the bouncy house at Jefferson Regional Medical Center’s Art for the Heart event Saturday. (Special to The Commercial/William Harvey)
Cousins Akasha Staton, (left), and Cody Staton, were at the kissing booth but only gave hugs during Jefferson Regional Medical Center’s Art for the Heart event Saturday. (Special to The Commercial/William Harvey)
Thirteen-year-old Ashley Jones glued three hearts on a card she was making for a church member who is in the hospital. Beneath the lacey pink, white and red hearts was the message: “Our Prayers are With You.”
Ashley was among dozens of children and adults who turned out for the Art from the Heart event held Saturday at the Jefferson Professional Center II. Sponsored by Jefferson Regional Medical Center, the gathering was billed as a family Valentine event.
Kembarly Thompson of Pine Bluff brought her cousins Izryl Davis, 9, and Ashley out to have some fun.
“I think it’s really nice for our community,” she said. “It’s good to see something positive going on in Pine Bluff for the kids.”
A large room on the building’s first floor was decorated with big balloons, white lights and more. The room featured four stations where children could make cards for patients, family and friends or do artwork to be entered into a contest.
“Today is about teaching kids we can give back to people,” said Rebecca Pittillo, director of the JRMC marketing department. “We want them to have a good time and it’s a chance for JRMC to love on our community.”
Children used construction paper, glitter, colorful hearts and more to create cards for people they know as well as strangers in the hospital or area nursing homes. Young artists also created Valentine-themed art.
Trinity Dawn Mixon, 10, of Dermott said she liked the idea of making a card for people in the hospital.
“I think it’s helpful for patients and fun for the children,” she said. “It’s bringing joy to people and helping us learn how to help others.”
The cards will be on display and the artwork will be judged by hospital officials and the community at Jefferson Professional Building II on Feb. 12. The public will vote that evening during a community reception. Winners will be chosen in three age groups, and one boy and one girl from each category will receive a $100 gift card to spend at Toys R Us or Hibbett Sports. The cards will be delivered by JRMC’s Youth Ambassadors, a volunteer group, on Feb. 14.
Besides creating cards and artwork on Saturday, children also did activities that kept them moving. There were activities inside and out, including bounce houses, carnival games, and jumping rope and hula hooping contests. The young guests also enjoyed sweet treats such as heart-shaped cookies and lemonade.
There were informational booths on such topics as fire safety, healthy eating and early childhood development.
Korenia Wilson sat at a table watching as her two children, niece and nephew created Valentine’s cards.
“They are lovin’ it,” she said. “It’s one of the few things that kids get to do in Pine Bluff.”
As a DJ played popular music, children tried their skills at keeping neon-colored hula hoops swirling around their waists. A smiling Charlyn Rosel, 9, twirled three hula hoops around – all at once. She later declared, “It’s fun” before picking up a rope to take part in the jump rope contest.
Bernadine Sutliff of White Hall came out with her granddaughters Kaitlyn Cooper, 3, and Ashlyn Cooper, 6.
“Since they love crafts, it’s a very nice event for them to attend,” she said.
Sutliff smiled and thanked Kaitlyn who handed her a piece of artwork with four roses she’s drawn using a marker. Meanwhile Ashlyn glued several hearts on a piece of pink construction paper. Interspersed among the hearts were the words, “love, love, love.”