Children in Nashville, Ill., are helping ease anxiety during the Coronavirus pandemic with a simple outreach organized by Lighthouse Community Church. Through a temporary adopt-a-grandparent initiative, kids are sending letters, cards, and handmade gifts to 63 seniors at two local nursing facilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially hard on seniors, who are more likely to suffer severe complications from the virus. The illness has affected assisted living facilities and nursing homes across the country, in some cases spreading quickly among patients, and often resulting in restrictions on visitors.
In Nashville, dozens of residents at Friendship Manor and Washington County Hospital’s Extended Care Unit received the first batch of gifts and cards in April.
“They loved it,” said Cara Kurwicki, director of activity programs at Friendship Manor. She said the facility has received an outpouring of support from churches and other organizations since enacting visitor restrictions in early March.
Lighthouse children’s minister Maria Arnold said the plan is to continue with weekly deliveries until the facilities are open to visitors again. “It has been such a joy to deliver the stacks of envelopes!” she said. The church is still recruiting people within the congregation to adopt a grandparent, and has opened up the outreach to people in the community too.
In a video update on Lighthouse’s Facebook page, Pastor Danny Donato said the project is one way to creatively love people well, at a time when churches can’t rely on what they would normally do.
Swiveled his phone to show colorful cards and pictures strewn across a countertop in the church’s empty lobby, Donato said, “These are all just ways that our parents are encouraging their children to encourage older folks who can’t have visitors right now.”
The pastor ended his video update with an encouragement for others to go and do likewise. “Be creative in how you love your neighbor.”
Photo: Finley, Owen, and Grant Gajewski are among the kids creating cards and gifts for local seniors. Submitted photo