PA Pen Pal Project is an initiative initially launched by Schuylkill Intermediate Unit and is now being shared statewide by Intermediate Units and school districts. It is an voluntary outreach effort to have students write letters, draw pictures and provide some positivity to residents isolated from friends and family in long-term care facilities.
As the holidays near, the goal is to provide residents with uplifting messages of hope, love and support from students all across the Commonwealth. Messages from child care centers, PreK, Head Start, center programs and K-12 students are all encouraged.
To whom should the students address letters and/or drawings?
Items can be generic or customized if names are provided by the recipient facility. Schuylkill IU initially began with general cards that provided encouragement to the residents.
Is there anything in particular students should include in letters?
We recommend comforting words that reflect kindness and encouragement during this difficult time. Many residents have expressed that they feel isolated as they have limited contact to family, friends and the outside world.
Should material be sent as hard copies or digitally?
We recommend hard copies because not all facilities will have the technology necessary to share, print out, etc. the letters and pictures. The use of technology would greatly reduce any contact from outside of the facility, but may impede delivery. Digital delivery is an option, but should be coordinated with the facility in advance.
Where should items be sent?
The vision for this project is that each PA county and school districts would work locally to establish the logistics on how and where to send the letters and pictures. At Schuylkill IU, they forwarded a list of local facilities to school administrative contacts. They then placed all of the letters and pictures in large manila envelopes which were distributed by volunteers to the facilities.
Here's a resource to locate facilities statewide: https://sais.health.pa.gov/commonpoc/nhLocatorie.asp