Graduating from high school is one of life's biggest moments, but the Class of 2020’s commencement has been spoiled by the coronavirus pandemic. Luckily for Turlock’s senior students, the community has come together in a big way to make sure the moment is still special.
After being invited to participate in a Facebook page from Washington called “Adopt a Senior,” where users post pictures of their graduates and members “adopt” the students by giving them gifts, Turlock resident Rocio Campos decided to create her own page to honor seniors locally. Since then, Turlock’s own “Adopt a Senior” page has seen over 200 students from the city’s high schools showered with gifts from the community, sparking joy during an otherwise dismal time.
“As a mother of three kids, two of them being juniors, one in high school and another in college, I know that if it were their senior year, I would be devastated not being able to celebrate their success or see them graduate,” Campos said. “Turlock is a great community and this Facebook group provides a much-needed distraction and gives our kids hope during this pandemic. There is comfort in being able to do something to help where we feel so vulnerable and helpless.”
On the page, parents and loved ones post pictures of their seniors, a short biography and their plans for life after high school. From there, requests to adopt the student pour into the comments section. No private information is posted on the site, and in-person deliveries are set up via private message. For those who prefer not to share their address with their adopters, Campos coordinated with Lulu’s Ice Cream Parlor and Treatery to serve as a drop off spot for gifts.
So far, seniors have received a variety of gifts through the effort, like baskets filled with their favorite candy, t-shirts, gift cards, flowers and even decorations for their future dorms. The goal is to eventually see every senior in the city adopted, Campos said. Thanks to the success and popularity of the page, the Facebook group also plans on coordinating to help seniors purchase their caps and gowns.
“This Facebook page has really taught me so much about the spirit of the Turlock community. During these difficult times, Turlock has come together to support one another,” Campos said. “I've lived in Turlock for most of my life and I've never seen this much support. I'm definitely blessed to be a part of this community.”
Turlock High School senior Lauren Edh was adopted by Katilynn Heinrichs, who she said she has never met before. Heinrichs gifted Edh with a bag full of her favorite treats and plenty of goodies any 17-year-old girl would like — scrunchies, socks, a portable straw and a reusable water bottle.
“Just the gesture of someone who doesn’t even know me wanting to reach out during this time helped me realize how supported the Class of 2020 and I are by the community,” Edh said. “COVID-19 took away many experiences seniors won’t be able to get back, but I appreciate all the efforts made by the community and my school which have given me a more positive outlook on the situation.”
The Facebook group’s full name is “Turlock High School Area Adopt a SENIOR 2020” and has grown to nearly 1,400 members strong. Those who would like to join the group to adopt a senior or have their senior adopted can search for the group on Facebook and request to join.