Surrey’s Creekside Elementary is hoping to continue writing letters to seniors for more upcoming holidays.
The elementary school, along with many others in the district, wrote letters to seniors over the holiday season, and now the school wants to “carry the holiday cheer into the new year, by writing even more letters for seniors leading up to Valentine’s Day and Family Day,” according to the Surrey school district.
Creekside principal Margaret Geddes said the idea to write Christmas cards came from a London Drugs campaign that distributed tags to anyone who wanted to write to a senior. Geddes told her teachers, who were enthusiastic, but the store ran out of tags before they could write any cards.
“People in my school were disappointed, but I said, ‘Wait a second, who knows a senior who’s spending Christmas alone?’” she said. “They knew their grandmother in a care facility or their neighbour, and we wrote about 14 people on a list, including two volunteers in our school who haven’t been able to be here this year.”
Geddes said the response from seniors led to a “unique connection” that her classes want to maintain, prompting the idea for the upcoming holidays.
“Most of the seniors emailed or phoned because it was a surprise to get these gifts and cards,” she said. “It’s like having a pen pal. The kids were really excited, they thought it was really important to reach out to our seniors. People want to be able to show that they care, and here was a little way to do it.”
The district said the Creekside Elementary normally invites grandparents to the school for Family Day (Feb. 15), and while that can’t happen this year, Geddes added the school is excited to still connect with seniors.
Geddes said she has shared the idea with other principals and even looked into finding retired teachers and principals to receive cards from schools. While she has 325 Creekside students participating, she said other schools have the potential to connect with even more seniors.
“It’s such a simple idea, and yet it’s so powerful,” she said. “I’d encourage other schools to do it. It didn’t really take a lot of effort and it had a really positive impact on both sides.”
At the start of the pandemic, two students at Fleetwood Park Secondary (who have since graduated) decided to create an initiative to connect teens and seniors to ease feelings of isolation.
The students, Tina Yong and Jasmine Chahal, created Quaranteens and connected about 50 students across the Lower Mainland with at least six care homes.