Kira Ridinger said she just wants to make people smile.
Kira, 10, wanted to find a way to give back to residents at Lorien Taneytown when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March. Lea Yox, Kira’s grandmother, gives her $50 to start so she can purchase items to take to the facility every holiday.
She started by making homemade cards and bought balloons, puzzle books, and other knick-knacks from Dollar Tree to be distributed to the residents. Kira, her sister Kloe, and Yox did this for most of the major holidays in 2020 and have continued to do so in 2021.
Yox said Kira donated 50 large heart-shaped balloons, candy, and cards to Lorien for Valentine’s Day and wanted to make an ever bigger impact for Easter.
“Making people smile makes me so happy,” Kira said. “People should be happy so when COVID hit and we couldn’t bring our dogs, I thought, ‘Why not bring other things to them so they could be happy?’”
“It makes me feel so warm inside that they can smile on the holidays.”
Lorien Taneytown is an assisted living community that prides itself on offering an independent atmosphere, with amenities that keep residents close to friends and family, according to the facility’s website. Lorien provides skilled nursing and a rehabilitation facility are provided.
With Kloe’s help, Kira filled 61 Easter baskets and stuffed 120 Easter eggs to be hidden around the nursing home for residents to find. Yox and her granddaughters delivered the items to the facility Wednesday evening.
“We call it her little factory,” Yox said. “She laid out 20 different types of candy and made sure each basket had the exact same thing, so her and her sister have been working really hard just putting them together.”
Yox said they got to know most of Lorien’s residents from walking their dogs around the facility every Sunday prior to the pandemic’s arrival. Ridinger carried a basket filled with coloring books, markers, books, pens, snack cakes, and other things to hand out to individuals they came across.
They would often sit and talk with the residents outside and Kira did video chats with a few of them when visiting outside was no longer possible. Last Easter, Kira made 50 bunny cutouts and wrote a note on each one for every resident.
Yox said Kira put in about 12-13 hours of work to get the Easter items together this spring and she received donation from friends as well.
“Kira wanted to include the staff this time,” Yox said. “There’s 39 residents on the residential side at the moment and approximately 20 workers on a holiday so she made sure she had enough for each resident and a worker to have a basket.”
Last Christmas, the trip delivered cards, presents, coloring books and word searches to the facility. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Kira is still unable to hand deliver the items herself but said she hopes the residents are happy when they do get their gifts for every holiday.
“She is the happiest little girl, the sweetest little girl,” Yox said. “Every time she sees a police officer or an ambulance driver, she thanks them for what they do. She’s an old soul and she will sit for hours and talk about the Titanic with elderly people.
“It’s her niche, I guess you could say.”
Yox said Kira is the type of child who will burst into a random dance in a gas station parking lot and her personality shines in everything she does.
“She has a genuinely good heart,” Yox said. “She just cares, and that’s awesome.”