What began last year as a modest community forum snowballed into a gift-giving frenzy where over 600 graduating seniors in Long Beach and beyond, who would go without a graduation ceremony due to the pandemic, were celebrated for their milestone achievements by way of a gift from a stranger.

Now, the popular online forum “Adopt-a-Senior LB” has returned for 2021.

The Facebook forum was started by Parks and Recreation employee Rhiannon Wilson who, after seeing the gift-giving trend online in other states, thought Long Beach ought to have a piece of the action. By the end of June 2020, Wilson’s forum included over 2,000 members.

Rhiannon Wilson is the creator of the “Adopt-a-Senior” Long Beach Facebook page, which in 2020 grew to over 2,000 members. Wilson has started a second campaign for 2021 graduating seniors. Image courtesy Facebook.

The concept of “Adopt-a-Senior” is fairly simple: Parents, friends or graduating seniors post a photo and short bio to the community page with the hashtag “#available” to indicate the student is available to be “adopted.” From there, a member of the group can reach out to sponsor the graduating elementary, middle, high school or college student to coordinate a special gift or care package for the student.

Sponsors are given freedom on what they get their assigned grad. Many have opted for practical items such as school supplies, dorm essentials and gift cards, while others tailored gift baskets to the tastes of the student, filling them with their favorite snacks, toys or games.

Those who post with “#gratitude” are invited to share messages of thanks, along with reaction photos and videos to the senior receiving their gift.

Though 2021 is looking to be a more promising year for seniors, with gathering restrictions slowly lifting, and schools like Cal State Long Beach moving forward with in-person commencement ceremonies, Wilson said she wanted to continue the forum as an added gesture of goodwill and community engagement.

“It’s just so cool to see the community come together,” Wilson said.

To join the “Adopt-a-Senior LB” page, click here.