A little kindness goes a long way, especially when it’s shared with those spending the holiday season alone.
United Way of Hall County, Wisdom Project 2030 and Forum Communications teamed up to spread words of encouragement to residents in long-term care and senior living facilities across Hall County. They have dubbed the initiative “Reach Out and Write.”
In mid-December, more than 1,000 letters were distributed to New Horizons Limestone and Lanier Park, Ashton Senior Living, Manor Lake Assisted Living and other homes with seniors who have been isolated to their facilities with little or no visitation because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Linda Cascio, executive assistant at United Way, said students in Gainesville City Schools, members of a few local churches, Brenau University staff and other individuals in Hall offered hand-written letters to help lift spirits this winter.
“This started for seniors because they have been so isolated this past year with the pandemic and not being able to see family,” Cascio said. “We’re really just wanting to bring some joy to them in their time of need.”
Cascio said Gainesville schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams provided cards for students in the system to use, giving the three groups the push they needed to launch the initiative.
“Without his assistance, we wouldn’t have had such an overwhelmingly successful delivery of holiday greetings,” Cascio said.
An additional 500 letters were sent to Meals on Wheels to be placed with food delivered to families in need.
When sorting through the messages, Cascio said she noticed that many of the students wrote about their own challenges brought by the pandemic.
“They were saying how hard it was on them as well,” she said. “It’s a little reinforcement that they’re not the only ones.”
Cascio said 97 of the cards were written in Spanish and dropped off to the Hispanic Alliance in Gainesville for the nonprofit to distribute. To her surprise, Cascio said she also came across cards displaying messages in French, Greek, German and Norwegian.
United Way has reserved 175 non-holiday cards to mail out in January. Cascio said the nonprofit, Forum Communications and Wisdom 2030 intend to run the letter-writing initiative for as long as the pandemic continues.
“It really is a nice way to reach out at this time when people can’t see each other,” Cascio said.
Those wanting to contribute to the initiative can place their letters in United Way’s drop box, located at 527 Oak St. in Gainesville, or send them via mail to the nonprofit. Cascio said people can also email their messages to firstname.lastname@example.org, which will be printed off in a letter format. She encourages participants to communicate in a thoughtful and kind way and keep their letters anonymous by only including a first name.For more information, visit unitedwayhallcounty.org/reachout/reachoutandwrite.