At this time of the year one of the ways to feel the Christmas spirit is by serving others. The I-serve program at BYU-Idaho has several opportunities to serve the community. Due to the pandemic, there are some changes in the activities and Morgan Rial, the community coordinator for I-Serve told BYU-Idaho Radio about some of those adjustments.
Previously they had a service activity called “Adopt a Grandparent” where students would go in groups to care facilities in Rexburg and Saint Anthony and sing and interact with the seniors.
“Because, you know COVID-19, we had to shut some things down and we are trying to protect the older people here in the community. We decided to start writing letters to them,” Rial said.
Rial said they also temporarily changed the name to “Grandparents Pen Pals.” You can write a letter to a person in a local nursing home, share what’s important to you and ask for the person to respond by sharing what’s important to them. Students write the letters and pay for their own postage and the nursing home helps the seniors with the materials they need to write the letter and send it.
“We have them do it in the more traditional way of writing letters,” Rial said.
When the pandemic first started they tried to come up with different ideas to change Adopt a Grandparent in a way that could be safe for both the seniors and the students. First, they thought of singing to them and remaining six-feet apart but the more they thought about it the more they realized writing letters would be the best option.
“We wanted to write letters to them to give them something to brighten their day but in a way that is safe in the current situation that we are in,” Rial said.
The idea has also expanded to seniors in Arizona.
“I’m not sure how they heard about it exactly but they heard about it and so they asked if we can write to them and we have been doing a little bit of that too,” Rial said.