Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Helping out: Local nonprofit seeks cards, encouragement to send to local seniors

Posted April 19, 2020 8:32 a.m. EDT

Courtesy: Center for Volunteer Caregiving

The staff and volunteers of The Center for Volunteer Caregiving are usually out and about in Wake County, supporting older adults and adults with disabilities and their caregivers.

But that in-person support isn't so easy to provide during a pandemic, and seniors are especially isolated now. They face a higher risk for complications from covid-19, and many of their traditional gathering places — churches, senior centers and clubs — are closed. What's more, family members may be steering clear, not wanting to pass the coronavirus onto their loved ones.

So the nonprofit has shifted its focus to providing phone calls and grocery shopping services to the 450 people it serves, and it's gotten creative. This month, the center launched Operation Senior Smiles and hopes to collect hundreds — even thousands — of cards and notes of encouragement to send to the people it supports and others across the region.

Volunteers started making cards in the last week or so, but the nonprofit wants to collect many more. It will start sending them to seniors this coming week. If more than 450 are collected, the nonprofit will distribute them to other local groups that support seniors in need.

"I would love to get thousands so we have lots to share," said Elaine M. Whitford, the center's executive director. "That would just be awesome."

Card makers don't need to get fancy. A cheery note on a blank card you have lying around the house will do. Or you can get fancy, as some have, crafting your own cards to share. And your four-year-old's pictures of rainbows and unicorns also are welcome.

"Think about when you see a picture drawn by a child in crayons, it makes you smile," Whitford said. "It doesn't matter what it is. The creative process of children is just something to smile at."

Whitford said making cards together also would make for an important teaching moment for families.

"You can talk about the fact that there are people who don't have families and are by themselves and, as a community, we all need to embrace everybody in our community," she said. "This is a tough time, especially if you're living by yourself."

Operation Senior Smiles card

The idea for Operation Senior Smiles came together with the help of Activate Good, a local group that connects people with volunteer opportunities. It has curated a list of other ways to help during the pandemic.

If you want to make cards, mail them to this address:

The Center for Volunteer Caregiving
1150 SE Maynard Rd., Suite 210
Cary, N.C. 27511

If you're able to include a few extra envelopes and stamps when you mail the cards, it's appreciated. The center is a small nonprofit. But Whitford said it's not required.

"We'll make sure they get mailed," she said.