OLATHE, Kan. -- Seniors in long-term care facilities cannot have visitors at the moment due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Many residents in these facilities rely on seeing family and friends each week to keep spirits high, which is why Evergreen Community in Olathe, Kansas, is working to make sure they know they are loved and thought of during these times.
Evergreen Community CFO Gene Howe's daughter, Aubrey Howe, is a local teacher and fitness and food blogger in the Kansas City area. She wanted to do something for her father's residents.
"I just reached out to my dad saying, 'What are you guys looking for; what can we do?'" said Aubrey.
She has almost 30,000 followers on Instagram and can reach a large audience quickly, so she sought help from her followers, asking for gifts for the seniors at Evergreen.
"We decided this would be more personal and a way to spread kindness. Not just the necessities, but things they are going to enjoy," Howe said.
Her followers listened.
"I probably had 350 responses and within the 24 hours that it was up, I re-posted it and had even more people reach out," she said.
Donations of slippers, coloring books, lotion and more poured in.
Gene said at first, he was heartbroken when the facility had to shut out visitors.
"It's the saddest thing that they can't see their family members regularly," Gene said.
But the outpouring of support has given him hope. As for the gifts, employees are taking steps to keep the seniors safe.
"They are definitely taking all the precautions. They are allowing them to sit without being touched for a certain period of time," Gene said.
Care packages are making this difficult time a little brighter.
"This has renewed my sense of what social media can be," Gene said. "I just hope as we go through this whole coronavirus thing, on the other side we come out as better human beings. I think it is a perfect example of how we can do that."
The community said they could use items such as magazines, books, candy, packaged snacks, lotion, candy, sock and puzzles.
If you would like to donate, please email Justine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was originally published by Jordan Betts at KSHB.