homepage logo

Shepherdstown Elementary student keeps busy with volunteering, music activities

By Staff | Jan 18, 2019

Shepherdstown Elementary School student Kalynn Burger performs a series of Christmas songs for nursing home residents during the holidays. Courtesy photo

SHEPHERDSTOWN — For some, Mahatma Gandhi’s quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” is simply a feel-good message. For others, including nine-year-old Shepherdstown Elementary School student Kalynn Burger, the quote is a way of life.

Kalynn, who studies piano at Shepherd University with Heidi Macaluso, used her musical talents to bring holiday cheer to others during her Christmas break. After visiting the Canterbury Center Nursing Home with her girl scout troop over a year ago, Kalynn realized she wanted to return to the center to bring the residents some holiday cheer.

“She was the one who actually was inspired with the idea, because what we try to do annually, is some sort of a give-back, such as going to a shelter to help pass out food, or something,” said Kalynn’s mother, Angela Burger, of Shepherdstown. “She’s getting older now, so she’s playing the piano. She thought about it, and said, ‘maybe I could play the piano and give back to the community in that way?'”

With the help of her mother, Kalynn performed programs of music at three local nursing homes and presented homemade cards at each one of them. At one of the nursing homes, Kalynn also joined in with the nursing home’s next event, and helped residents create handmade ornaments.

“The program was different for each location. The location in Charles Town, she played about six songs. The other locations, there were about five songs,” Angela said, mentioning the performances included a collaboration between Kalynn and her grandmother.

“For one of the songs, her grandmother actually came along with us to sing at all three of the centers, to ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ I think the seniors really enjoyed that, as well,” Angela said.

Although Kalynn’s intention with performing at the nursing homes was to bring joy to the residents, she also gained some positive results from the experience.

“There were maybe 17 seniors around the piano, and there was one who was listening to her play, and then she came up and started rubbing Kalynn’s back and then wanted to sit down beside her on the piano. She told her to keep playing and was really encouraging to her,” Angela said. “It made Kalynn feel better, and helped her realize she was able to make people feel good. I think that is the intent with volunteering, to help her get a window to see what she can do to help others.”

According to Angela, she plans on continuing to encourage Kalynn’s philanthropic spirit, which Angela believes is essential to Kalynn’s development as a compassionate human being.

“I think we see so much going on — she brings it to my attention inadvertently, because she will see things kind of happening. For example, we’ll be driving down the road or walking someplace, and we’ll see people who are less fortunate than us. She’s genuinely concerned about those people,” Angela said. “When we talk about the inequities in our world, we talk about what we can do to help those who do not have all the things we are blessed with. With that, and just being so cognizant of her surroundings and dialogue, she wants to give back in whatever way she can.

“And with music, and all of that talent which she hasn’t fully realized yet, she has a gift that she is able to share and help others feel better,” Angela said, mentioning Kalynn is in her school’s fourth and fifth grade chorus. “It’s funny, I think she started feeling it a bit, when she started singing at the senior center.”