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Valley 5-year-old writes to senior pen pals across the country during coronavirus pandemic

An East Coast assisted living center receives pen pal letters from the Valley, thanks to a simple social media request.

PHOENIX — Months into the coronavirus pandemic, seniors inside of assisted living homes haven’t been allowed visitors in order to help protect them from COVID-19.

So when a center clear across the country asked for pen pals, the response was tremendous. Writers from right here in the Valley even answered the call.

All it took was a simple 6-word question posted to Facebook, and the letters, thousands of them continue to pour into Victorian Senior Care Centers in North Carolina. That question, "Will you be my Pen Pal?"

Victorian Senior Care's Rachel Reynolds says the letters have brightened the spirits of the people who live and work there. 

“They needed something," Reynolds said. "It’s taken a toll on them and the staff.”

Residents there, who haven’t been allowed visitors since March, welcomed the new friends.

One young writer from is from right here in the Valley. Her mom, Marion Connett, says she found out about the pen pal program on social media. 

“I showed her the pictures on my phone, like, you can pick friends to write to," Connett said. "And she pretty much wanted to write to everyone.”

Five-year-old Claire then sent kindness through the mail using her pencil and paper. 

“She’s like, 'Oh no, they don’t have people coming to visit them,'" Connett said. "And I said 'No, they don’t.'”

Pen Pals like Pattie Smith are busy writing back.

“Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming over here," Smith said. "But we’re all digging out.”

And Pattie says she's writing to so many, it can be hard to keep track.

“That’s a good question," Pattie said. "Probably about, a couple hundred of them.”

It helps fill the time when Pattie and others at the center can't see their families. 

“It has been very difficult to try to get through all of these things," Smith said. 

Bringing some of the outside world in, thanks to the power of social media.

If you want to get involved, Victorian Senior Care is still accepting pen pals.

You can find the link to details on their website or Facebook