Writing Letters to Seniors and Caretakers: National Girl Scout Service Project

Serving our communities is part of how Girl Scouts lead, especially in times of our country’s greatest need. During World War I and the Spanish flu pandemic, Girl Scouts collected peach pits to be ground up and used in making soldiers’ gas masks, rolled bandages for the Red Cross, educated their communities about food production, and sold U.S. Treasury Bonds. On the home front in World War II, Girl Scouts planted victory gardens; conducted scrap drives for rubber, metal, and nylon; and trained with the Red Cross on first aid. They sent President Franklin Delano Roosevelt a “check” documenting 5.4 million hours of service.

Girl Scouts have always stepped up in times of need, and our current COVID-19 crisis is no different. All across the country, Girl Scouts have leapt to the aid of others by engaging in wonderful acts of service and kindness. Now your troop can get involved too!

The idea is simple: girls write letters to people in nursing homes, senior centers, and assisted living facilities, including the dedicated staff and caregivers. This long-distance hug is a way to share your good thoughts with these vulnerable and loved community members.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Ask your girls (and their friends!) to write letters using the Tips for Writing Letters to Seniors and Caretakers below. You can share this handout with your girls before you write letters or during your virtual troop meeting.
    1. Send a long-distance hug with a heartfelt letter to seniors, their caretakers, and other people who can benefit from knowing that you’re thinking of them. See below for some recommendations on how to write and share these notes.
    2. What should I know before I write my letter?
      • Write it by hand. Giving your message a personal touch can show your reader how much you care. Plus, it’s your unique stamp! No one has your handwriting but you.
      • Make it neat. Make sure your recipient can read the wonderful words you write to them!
      • Make it personal. Let your creative side shine with bright colors, glitter pens, drawings, and other personal touches!
      • Don’t write the date. While we often want to mark the date that we write letters, it may take longer than normal for this letter to be delivered. Leaving off the date will help your reader feel special and remembered even if they receive it late.
    3. What should I write about?
      • “Thank you” or “Thinking of you”—pick one! Are you writing to a resident at a nursing home? Want to thank a caregiver? Decide what type of note you’re writing and let the message guide your writing.
      • Be kind and thoughtful. When you begin to write, think carefully about what you want to say and how you can spread kindness. Consider how you can craft a unique message that comes from your heart. How can you make the card extra special?
      • Be creative. Use your creativity, imagination, and talents to make your note fun and unique! Consider drawing a picture, decorating your note, or adding in a puzzle that you create or a game you love.
      • Start with “Dear Friend.” Even if you don’t know your reader by name, starting with “Dear Friend” will make them feel special and cared for.
      • Introduce yourself. Let your reader know who you are and why you’re writing.
      • Send positive thoughts. Share your positivity and well wishes. What do you hope for your reader right now? Is there anything you’d like to thank them for?
      • Give some personal flair. Share something that only you can. Is there something you’ve been doing that you want that person to know about? Can you share a story that will make them happy?
      • Avoid religion and personal views. Since we don’t know exactly who will receive your letter, make sure that your note is kind and broad—so that anyone who receives it will feel that it is meant for them.
      • Sign your first name. Sign your name to the letter to show your reader it’s coming from a kind and genuine person: you. While it’s important that this letter come from you, don’t share more personal information (like your last name, home address, or phone number)—if the reader knows your name and that you’re a Girl Scout, that’s more than enough.
  2. You can mail letters to one of the locations ready to receive letters from Girl Scout troops. The list is available on the National Service Project page. Or you can reach out to a local assisted living center or nursing home and find out how they would like to receive your troop’s letters.
  3. Decide how to collect and deliver your troop’s letters. You could collect the letters (using no-contact practices) and mail them or drop them off as a packet, have girls mail them individually, or even deliver them via email. Do whatever is easiest and safest for you and your troop. If you decide to have girls mail them on their own, provide the council office address as the return address.
  4. Include a letter or note to the facility staff explaining who your letters are for, along with suggested ideas for sharing your letters (for example, adding a letter to meal trays or decorating a nurse’s station). A sample letter to the facility can be found here.
  5. If your troop wrote both “thinking of you” notes for residents and “thank you” notes for staff and caregivers, make sure to organize your package so that it is easy for staff to deliver letters to the right recipients.
  6. Take a picture of your letter packet and post it to your social media networks using #GirlScoutsGiveBack (and be sure to tag us @girlscouts). You can also tag GSWNY on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
  7. Don’t forget to visit GSUSA’s National Service Project page and log the number of letters you send to add them to the national campaign. Let’s see how many letters of love and care our Movement can send!
  8. If you wish to recognize your troop’s participation with a patch, we recommend this community service patch.
Featured image: drobotdean

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