Shelby Slover feels nothing but love from her community.

Slover, a Goliad High School senior, is among thousands of Crossroads seniors who had the year cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But their communities rallied around them and created the adopt-a-senior social media campaigns.

The campaign allows a community member to “adopt” a senior and shower them with gifts in support to make up for their lost semester.

“Everything everybody has been doing for us has been really nice and thoughtful,” Slover, 18, said. “It’s amazing how generous everyone has been. It doesn’t seem real how much support we have.”

Slover participated in a little bit of everything in high school, she said. She was the president of the National Honor Society, created the Interact Club, showed rabbits and heifers in FFA and played basketball, golf and tennis.

“You name it and I was in it,” she said.

It’s one of the reasons it hurt when her senior year was cut short.

“I don’t remember what the last day felt like. I don’t remember what I did,” Slover said. “I lost it. I was so upset.”

Her Goliad community has helped soften the blow though with adopt-a-senior, she said,

Slover was “adopted” by her boss Kali Saunders at Goliad Flower Company. Saunders gave Slover gifts including sweets, monogrammed bathroom towels, cups and other items to bring her future dorm room together.

“I can’t even wrap my head around it because they keep throwing new stuff at me,” Slover said. “It’s kind of somewhat fixed it.”

Saunders, 29, said when she saw the adopt-a-senior efforts, she knew she had to “adopt” Slover.

“It’s awesome the community is getting together and supporting our seniors,” Saunders said.

The gifts are a small way for the community to help the seniors feel better for their loss of a semester. At 18 years old, Slover is the most responsible kid she has ever met, Saunders said.

“I think she’s a great person. I wanted to do more for her than just be her boss,” she said. “I feel bad for her because she puts 110% in everything she does.”

The efforts aren’t limited to Goliad. Facebook pages are found in Victoria, Jackson County, Austwell-Tivoli and across the county.

Lia Hernandez, a senior at Austwell-Tivoli, said it has been wonderful seeing her small community rally around an even small graduating class.

It’s so awesome because all these people are giving us such amazing gifts,” the 18-year-old said. “It’s such an amazing feeling since our year has been cut short.”

Hernandez said her graduating class is only 11 seniors, each senior has been adopted multiple times and have been showered with support.

She has received several senior packages with snacks and small gifts. One of her favorite gifts was a water bag for her long runs, she said.

Hernandez misses her classmates, but the community support has made her feel better.

“Our town is very small,” she said. “It’s awesome how our tiny community stands behind us and their hearts are open to us.”

Samantha Douty is the education reporter at the Victoria Advocate. She grew up in Corpus Christi and graduated from UT-Arlington with a bachelor's in journalism.

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