SIDNEY — What started out as a plan to reach out to seniors in the area and keep children occupied at home has quickly evolved into a community-wide project.
“URSpecial” began March 20 with a Facebook post by H.R. Pence, who wanted to give children and grandchildren in the area a craft project to work on while stuck at home: make cards for seniors in nursing homes.
“With this lockdown everywhere, just imagine how sad and lonely that might be. I just thought I would do something that would put a little sunshine in their life,” Pence said. “I know that there are people who are especially depressed and lonely, who don’t get mail and maybe don’t get visitors, so I just address each card I send out ‘To Someone Special’.”
Pence first called Fair Haven and Ohio Living Dorothy Love, both in Sidney, to check and make sure they were open to receiving cards and letters during the lockdowns that have closed nursing homes in Ohio to the public. The response was an enthusiastic “yes.” Since making the post on Facebook about the project, it has been shared over 400 times and received comments from residents in nursing homes asking for cards.
“I was just amazed at the response. It was just my little idea, and seeing that that many people found it inspiring was a really good feeling,” Pence said. “We have many parents that have the kids home, and they’re trying diligently to find something to keep the kids occupied. This is perfect; it can serve two purposes.”
There’s no limit on what is welcome in terms of cards; greeting cards, birthday cards, mother’s and father’s day cards, blank note cards, and home-made cards are just the tip of the iceberg. Pence’s method with birthday cards is similar to any other card; address it to someone special, write a nice message, and leave it up to the people working at the nursing homes to deliver them to residents who may need a word of encouragement. The only difference is, she sticks a birthday cake sticker in the corner of the envelope, where a stamp would normally go.
“It doesn’t have to be an expensive card. It’s the thought inside that counts,” Pence said.
The project isn’t just limited to cards; Fair Haven and Shelby Skilled Nursing both have email addresses (FairHavenPenPals@gmail.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively) that people can send messages to, that will then be delivered to residents.
The best way to deliver cards, Pence said, is to go to a nursing home of choice and call them from the parking lot; the staff will give further instruction on what to do.
“Dorothy Love has a special table right inside the door and you just leave them there. Fair Haven comes out to your car and gets them from you. That’s what you should do, that’s the easiest way,” Pence said.
According to Pence, each nursing home has sanitation methods and all mail will be sanitized before being delivered to residents.
“I think we’re seeing, and it’s just beautiful, the humanitarian side of us,” Pence said. “We are good people.”
Area nursing homes participating in the “URSpecial Project” are:
• Ohio Living Dorothy Love, 3003 Cisco Road, Sidney, OH 45365
• Fair Haven, 2901 Fair Road, Sidney, OH 45365
• Elmwood Assisted Living of New Bremen, 711 S. Walnut St., New Bremen, OH 45869
• Sidney Care Center, 510 Buckeye Ave., Sidney, OH 45365
• The Landings of Sidney, 1150 W. Russell Road, Sidney, OH 45365
• Shelby Skilled Nursing, 705 Fulton St., Sidney, OH 45365.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.