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The sweetest gift

February 6, 2014
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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My nephew recently volunteered at a local nursing home as part of a high school project. He assisted the facility in preparing treats for a Halloween party, helped residents get ready to pass out sweets to visiting children who stopped outside of their rooms, and refilled residents’ candy supplies as needed.

In addition to picking up some practical skills related to food preparation, the experience helped my nephew gain insights into seniors. “They really seemed to enjoy giving,” he told me. “When I went into their rooms to let them know it was almost time to pass out candy, their faces lit up. They were really happy to see the children.”

The “small things” can make a big difference in an elderly person’s day, my nephew realized. And now a new national project is enabling young people across the country to make a difference in seniors' lives., a not-for-profit organization promoting social change through 13- to 25-year-olds, and Mentor Up, an AARP Foundation volunteering effort that brings together young people and those over 50, have launched “Love Letters.” The campaign encourages teenagers to make Valentine’s Day cards to ease the effects of social isolation and depression in older adults.

Through Feb. 15, participants can log on to the website, find a local Meals on Wheels location and send a homemade card there. Meals on Wheels will deliver the cards to its clients.

Please share the information with the teenagers in your life, and remind them that this project is one of several ways in which they can lift the spirits of the older adults in their communities. It's a worthy goal all year, and they may even learn something in the process.

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Lois Bowers

Lois Bowers


Lois A. Bowers was senior editor of Long-Term Living from 2013-2015.