Students at Summitt Hills Elementary making valentines for seniors. Learn more about the project in the video above. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com
IDAHO FALLS – Valentines Day is just around the corner and two organizations want to make sure eastern Idaho’s elderly population know how much they’re loved.
JustServe, an organization that connects volunteers to service opportunities, and Senior Solutions, which connects families with resources for their aging parents, are partnering with schools, businesses, churches, youth groups and others in the community to make valentines for seniors.
Susan Stucki, a coordinator for JustServe in the Idaho Falls area, tells EastIdahoNews.com she’s thrilled to see many people getting involved in the project.
“We’ve invited both school districts (in Idaho Falls) to notify their schools and classrooms of this opportunity. We’ve reached out to the Idaho National Laboratory. We’ve got Keller Williams Realty, who donated funds for roses and carnations, along with Teton Radiology and Lonny.com,” Stucki says. “Many other groups are gathering together. We hope hundreds, even thousands, are working (on valentines).”
VALENTINE’S DAY TRIVIA
The man who inspired Valentine’s Day was a third-century Roman priest known as St. Valentine.
He was sentenced to death and put in jail for performing weddings for couples, which were illegal at the time. He fell in love with the jailor’s daughter and he’d write her love letters.
Valentine would sign his letters, “From Your Valentine,” which forever established him as one of the most romantic figures in history. That’s why Valentine’s Day is a day of romance.
Valentine was executed on Feb. 14, the day Valentine’s Day is now celebrated.
The tradition of exchanging valentines began in the 1600s, but Esther Howland was the first person to mass produce them.
Hallmark reports Valentine’s Day is the second-largest card sending holiday of the year.
The Valentines for seniors project began in 2021 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. No visitors were allowed at assisted living or senior centers because those 65 and older were the most vulnerable to the virus.
Senior Solutions owner and CEO Chanse Powell says it was really hard on residents not being able to see their loved ones.
“A lot of times, (families) were just looking through a window or calling (on the phone). That’s excruciatingly hard,” Powell says. “It was already difficult being a senior citizen. COVID made it even more difficult.”
Stucki has personal experience taking care of aging parents and she wanted to spread some cheer. That’s how the valentine project was born.
Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper issued a proclamation in 2021, officially declaring Feb. 14 as “We Love Seniors Day.” More than 5,000 valentines and 500 roses were delivered to local seniors the first year. In 2022, 6,600 valentines were delivered.
Powell says seeing the impact these valentines have on recipients is heartwarming.
“There’s been lots of tears and gratitude. They’re emotional (when they see) someone cares about (them), someone remembers (them),” he says. “For a lot of them, it’s the most impactful thing that week, that month, and sometimes, the whole year.”
Stucki remembers one delivery in 2021 that was particularly special. She and Powell were delivering roses to an apartment complex where they met a lady named Bonnie.
“‘I’ve just been looking online drooling over roses on an Albertson’s ad this afternoon, wishing so bad I could have a fresh, pink rose for Valentine’s Day,’” Bonnie said, according to Stucki. “In my arm, I had a variety of colors and there was a fresh, pink rose for Bonnie.”
Stucki also handed her a valentine made by an elementary student and Bonnie began to cry.
“We all did. It was a very tender moment,” says Stucki.
Mrs. Johnson’s fifth grade class at Summitt Hills Elementary in Idaho Falls is participating in the project this year. EastIdahoNews.com paid a visit on Thursday to speak with some of the students.
Ten-year-old Marlie, Nixon and Sutton were all smiles when they told us about it. Sutton is hoping her valentine “brings someone joy.”
“I hope you like them and that you have an awesome day,” she says.
The beauty of this project, Stucki says, is that it does bring joy to the giver and the receiver and she invites everyone to get involved.
“Every single person has invested their own self for just a few minutes to cheer up somebody else and that’s really humbling and gratifying to see,” says Stucki.
Those who wish to participate can drop off their valentine at 2296 North Yellowstone Highway #301 in Idaho Falls. The deadline is Feb. 8. Stucki will distribute flowers and valentines between Feb. 9 and Feb. 14.
For a valentine template or to learn more about the project, click here.
The post Community invited to participate in third annual Valentines for Seniors project appeared first on East Idaho News.
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