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Although the COVID-19 pandemic has left some feeling isolated, a group of local high school students decided to reach out and give back during times of uncertainty. Knoxville Catholic High School rising seniors Marisa McMichael, An Doan, and Fatima Arias Santiago wanted to make a difference in the lives of a population directly impacted by the pandemic, so they created Letters of Hope, an organization dedicated to connecting area seniors with volunteer pen pals. To date, more than 65 volunteers have signed up to write letters to residents in senior living communities in order to combat increased feelings of loneliness while the seniors shelter in place. “We wanted to help a group of people specifically affected by COVID-19,” McMichael said when asked what inspired the creation of Letters of Hope. “Even though letters are simple, they have a significant effect on the lives of the seniors who receive them.”
Recently, Letters of Hope volunteers paid a visit to Morning Pointe of Knoxville. After delivering more than 70 handwritten letters—one for each of the assisted living community’s residents—they decorated the exterior of the building with balloons and inspirational signs for the residents to read. “Our seniors are so touched to know that these teens are thoughtful enough to keep in touch with them!” said Morning Pointe life enrichment director Kari Christopher. “We are so thankful for Letters of Hope!”
Anyone interested in volunteering with Letters of Hope can visit the organization’s Instagram account, @knox.lettersofhope, to learn more.