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Community members send love to homebound elders

Love LettersElizabeth Mattern admires a valentine made by a student at the Franklin County Technical School before packing it with a meal and into a cooler in the Meals on Wheels kitchen to head out for delivery with a volunteer driver.

Love Letters campaign a heart-warming success

Friday, February 13, hundreds of homebound elders across Franklin County and the North Quabbin region warmed their hearts with a hot meal and a handmade Valentine’s Day card.

LifePath's Meals on Wheels program received over 400 handmade valentines as part of a Love Letters campaign put together by, AARP Foundation’s Mentor Up, and the Meals On Wheels Association of America.

“These beautiful cards were made by locals all across our region and beyond, from preschoolers to rest home residents,” said Jessica Riel, Media and Communications Manager at LifePath. “Thank you so much for showing our elders you care!”

After Meals on Wheels kitchen staff packed the valentines alongside that day’s meals, volunteer Meals on Wheels drivers delivered the cards on their normal Friday morning routes.

 Meals on Wheels recipients respond with thanks

“We have had many thanks from the people for the Valentine’s Day cards,” said Susan Tidlund, Meals on Wheels Kitchen Manager, “and a good, really positive reaction from the drivers, too.”

“Dear Meals on Wheels, thank you so much for the Valentine’s Day card…. Glad to see you care all so caring. Sincerely, Rick,” wrote one Meals on Wheels recipient after receiving his valentine.

Cards made with care and creativity

Whether age four or 84, community members of all ages set their hand to making valentines. Cards arrived from Petersham Montessori School, Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School, Four Corners Elementary School in Greenfield, Franklin County Technical School (FCTS) in Turners Falls, Homework House in Holyoke, La Belle's Rest Home in Shelburne Falls, and local families.

"Happy Valentine's Day… Let it be filled with joy!" wrote Haleigh, a student in the Cosmetology program at FCTS. For her card, she cut blue paper cut into a circle and covered it with hand drawn red hearts.

FCTS students collectively made over 200 cards, which were collected on Thursday, February 12, during a gathering of FCTS students and teachers in the school’s library. Charlie Shaw, longtime volunteer Meals on Wheels driver, spoke about his experience as a driver and how important kind gestures – like writing a valentine – are to homebound and often isolated elders. “It may not seem like a lot,” he told the students, “but this kind of thing really does make a difference in the lives of these seniors.”

Cards from Petersham Montessori School were decorated with kitten stickers and well-wishes; “Enjoy your meal!” read one.

View additional photos of the cards online on LifePath’s Facebook page.

Learn more about Meals on Wheels.