May baskets delivered to seniors, hospital patients

MAY BASKET volunteers (left) Ranick Fjerstad, Lacie Weber, Cassidi Hale, Mariah Johnson, Faith Hale and Janice Johnson prepare to make their Saturday morning delivery to Heritage Senior Living and deliver containers of flowers and sweets to Heritage residents. They also made deliveries to Madison hospital patients.

A small group of volunteers, representing a couple of generations, brightened the day for many seniors and hospital patients on Saturday by delivering May baskets to persons shut in due to pandemic social-distancing and hospital care.

Janice Johnson of Madison organized the deliveries that started with her and granddaughter Mariah Johnson creating 140 May baskets as gifts to celebrate the start of spring. The congregation at Grace Episcopal Church in Madison supported the project as a sponsor.

The Johnsons had constructed the May baskets from plastic cups and pipe cleaners and filled the containers with silk and paper flowers, paper butterflies, wrapped candies and treats.

Janice and Mariah Johnson started the May basket deliveries on Friday by visiting Bethel Lutheran Home in Madison, a senior-care facility. Janice Johnson said they handed out about 90 baskets to Bethel residents living in apartments, assisted-living quarters and other residences.

On Saturday, the Johnsons were assisted in making two more May basket deliveries by Ranick Fjerstad, Cassidi Hale, Faith Hale and Lacie Weber, members of the Lake County 4-H Junior Leaders. The six volunteers started their work at Heritage Senior Living, a Madison assisted-living center, and set out the May baskets at each table in the dining room before the midday meal. They also presented baskets to the kitchen and support staff at the center.

After leaving the assisted-living center, the group traveled to the city hospital, Madison Regional Health System, to deliver May baskets to patients.

While not as popular today as in the past, the tradition of giving May baskets remains a part of May Day celebrations with small baskets of sweets or flowers that are sometimes left anonymously on doorsteps. Other traditional May Day activities, observed in Europe and North America, include dancing around the maypole and crowning the Queen of May.