It all started with a phone conversation.
ViAnna Anderson, a teacher at Rose Elementary School in Milpitas, thought it might be fun for students to create Valentine cards for seniors, in order to bring a little light into the lives of those among the most vulnerable and socially isolated during the pandemic. She had been talking on the phone to her friend Tammy Reese, an Executive Nutrition Director at Valley InterCommunity Council in Los Angeles. Reese, who used to live in the Bay Area and was also once a teacher at Rose Elementary, told Anderson that the seniors she worked with at her center were having a tough time adjusting to a new socially distanced world.
“Over the past several months, older adults have been greatly impacted by not being able to attend the senior centers for nutrition programs, exercise classes, and other activities leaving our most vulnerable community both isolated and lonely,” Reese shared with The Beat.
And so, inspired by the idea, Anderson took off running with it. She got the go-ahead from Rose Principal Nanci Pass, and that was that.
Starting in early January, Rose Elementary students got to work on the project. Even though all of them are still engaged in distance learning, that did nothing to stem their motivation.
With the help of Rose’s PTO, Anderson was able to create kits full of multicolored paper, stickers, and heart templates. Once the kits were assembled and ready for pick-up, parents dropped by the school to grab them.
About 200 students ranging from TK all the way to 6th grade got to work, creating the valentines at home. Even parents and Rose staff joined in.
Once received, the Valentines were quarantined for a week before being distributed.
“When people asked me what I was doing and found I was working on a valentine project connecting kids and seniors, they wanted to get involved. The project took on a life of its own. It grew from being a local effort to reaching seniors as far away as LA and Minnesota!” said Anderson.
A total of 710 valentines were delivered to local seniors through senior meal distributions, and also given out to nursing home residents.
Two hundred valentines were sent to the Valley InterCommunity Council in Los Angeles; and Reese informed The Beat that the seniors were thrilled to receive them.
Councilmember John Lee of District 12 in Los Angeles even wrote a letter to the Rose Elementary students, thanking them for their efforts in reaching out to the seniors. In the letter, he invited Rose students onto a Zoom call to talk about “other ways to make the world a better place.”
“If I can’t get to Milpitas in person, we’ll do it virtually,” wrote Councilmember Lee in the letter.
Reese worked as a teacher at Rose Elementary for several years, and also served as Athletic Director. Anderson, who teaches a 2nd/3rd grade combo class, has been a teacher at Rose Elementary for the past 20 years. Inspired by this new project, she created Bay Area Kids Care in an effort to keep uniting generations by continuing to make cards and engaging in other activities.
Bay Area Kids Care can be contacted through their website: bayareakidscare.com