A creative way to celebrate seniors' accomplishments has caught fire during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Lisa Milbrand
Updated April 16, 2020
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Angela Porter and family who helped honor seniors during coronavirus quarantine.
| Credit: courtesy

Ozark High School senior Jordan Porter had big plans before she set off for Missouri University of Science & Technology on a full-ride scholarship—a prom on May 9, and crossing the stage to get her diploma at graduation. But after the coronavirus hit, those plans—like those for thousands of other seniors around the country—were postponed indefinitely.

As Jordan tried to cope with the disappointment, her mother, Angela, a special education paraprofessional, sought to come up with something to brighten her days. "These kids are missing out on a lot, and their memories will forever be what happens now," Angela says. "I was just thinking about what could be done to help with that. Sometimes having an outside source praising them is a big deal and makes a bigger impact."

Angela hatched a plan to start a Facebook group, dubbed Adopt a Senior 2020, to match up high school seniors with people who were willing to surprise them with a heartfelt letter or a special gift that they'd like. The group ramped up quickly—what Angela started as a local group for Ozark high school seniors on April 3 has swiftly grown to nearly 30,000 members, celebrating both high school and college seniors from around the globe.

Seniors (or the people who love them) can fill out a questionnaire with some of their hobbies, future plans, and favorite snacks to help inspire their gift giver, and the people who select them can offer whatever they like. Some seniors have been surprised with gifts like handmade quilts, baskets filled with their favorite snacks, and heartfelt notes—even from other seniors who have chosen to surprise them.

Angela has been shocked by how quickly it has taken off—she and the handful of admins on the group spend hours sifting through the group to make sure every student is highlighted and matched. But most of the seniors find a match all by themselves—today only 300 seniors are still looking for someone willing to celebrate them. "We’re all looking to find a ray of light in the darkness," she says. "It just amazes me that there are so many good people out there."