Blood banks need donations. The Ronald McDonald House needs gift cards. Health care workers need masks and money for protective equipment. Local restaurants would love your takeout business. But what can kids do to help while everyone is staying at home and trying to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus?
A lot, as it turns out — and a side benefit is that their contributions can also help parents to keep kids busy and distracted during the long hours homebound.
Assisted living centers for senior citizens and hospitals across the country have had to go on lockdown for the safety of their residents and patients, which is better for their physical health, but has left a lot of people feeling more alone in a stressful time.
"Our residents are used to having visitors and being in close connection with the community, so they feel very isolated right now," Nancy Ludin, executive director of the Jewish Pavilion in Altamonte Springs, Florida, told TODAY Parents.
To combat the loneliness, many of these centers, nursing homes, and hospitals are welcoming cards, drawings, and letters from the public, including children. If your child is restless and looking for some way to do good when it feels like all we can do is sit at home, here are some of the organizations that would love a little support and encouragement — from a distance!
"This makes an enormous difference to our residents," said Ludin. "It tells them we are thinking of them, we care about them, and we are anxious to see them again. This is a great way to teach our kids how to be compassionate and kind during this time."
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Even celebrities like "Saturday Night Live's" Heidi Gardner are getting into the act. "Please join me and send a card to a nursing home," the actress wrote on Instagram. "Senior citizens need our love more than ever right now."
Don't worry, the United States Postal Service gives this kind of project its blessing. In its update on its COVID-19 response on its website, the service notes the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the Surgeon General have indicated that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail."
Specifically, according to the World Health Organization, “the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and been exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.”
Here is a selection of organizations actively soliciting cards, letters, or drawings right now, but parents can check with local organizations too.
Care Not COVID
The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living teamed up to offer this website where anyone can record a video to send a message of support and hope to nursing home and assisted living residents across the country. They are hoping to spread the message by using the #CareNotCOVID hashtag and sharing the link on social media.
Benedictine Health Systems Senior Care Communities
The non-profit, mission-based health system headquartered in the Minnesota is soliciting #GramsforGrands at their locations in Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Minnesota. They will also accept emails for their residents at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Children's Hospital Colorado
Your child can send a personal greeting to another child in the hospital at the Anschutz Medical Campus, no stamp required! Just address the e-card to "A Special Patient" and the hospital volunteers will print and deliver the message to one of their current patients.
Brightview Arlington Senior Living Center
This Massachusetts center for seniors and memory care has 100 residents and would love any kind of card or drawing — "Any kind of message that will brighten their day," said a Brightview representative. Send envelopes to Paula Feldman, Vibrant Living Director, at 1 Symmes Road, Arlington, Massachusetts, 02474.
The Jewish Pavilion of Central Florida
This organization provides community connection to elder care residents of all faiths and religious beliefs. They are seeking Easter, Passover, or general "Thinking of You" cards for their residents as well as any kind of general letter, drawing, or even craft project like blankets or pillows, which they will distribute to their residents in the Central Florida community. Send to The Jewish Pavilion, 421 Montgomery Road, Suite 131 Altamonte Springs, Florida, 32714.
Country Meadows Senior Care of Bethlehem
The senior living and retirement community would like letters for their residents, who cannot have visitors at this time. Send to Country Meadows of Bethlehem, Attention: Lynn Somers, 4011 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 18020.
Home Again Assisted Living Facility
"Shower our residents with love!" wrote the Home Again Assisted Living Facility on their website. They are asking for cards, drawings, or inspirational sayings for residents and ask letter writers to sign their first names and where they are from "to show how far love can travel." Send cards to Shyla Reigstad: Cards for Residents at one of these addresses: 308 England Street, Cambridge, Wisconsin, 53523; 110 Stuart Street, Columbus, Wisconsin, 53925; or 1120 Connery Cove, Waunakee, Wisconsin, 53597.
Heartis Senior Living (Clear Lake)
The center is looking for "pen pals" for their residents. Send cards and letters to Heartis Clear Lake, 14520 Highway 3, Webster, Texas, 77598.