Have a heart, send a Valentine.
Sapphire Lutheran Homes is asking for valentines for all 150 residents on their campus.
Dominic Farrenkopf, community life director at Sapphire Lutheran Homes, said this was the fourth year they had asked for valentines. He hopes community members, church groups, social clubs, book clubs, service clubs, daycare centers and schools will send valentines.
“We all ask for Valentine’s Day,” he said. “You don’t have to do 150, but you could do 10. Residents love buying them and the more variety the happier they are.”
Farrenkopf said the response has been great in recent years.
People also read…
“We received valentines from people all over the state and around the world,” he said. “Last year, we received some from Germany. It makes the residents feel so special to be remembered or even thought of by a complete stranger. It’s exciting to see the variety, they come in all ages and there’s a unique mix of types.
From store shopping to crafts, from simple to elaborate and from secular to religious, valentines bring joy.
“Some have a joke, a lollipop or a conversation heart, we get a wide variety of what people send and where the valentines are sent from,” he said.
This year, rather than just a large envelope outside every resident’s door for Valentine’s Day, SLH upgraded to accommodate the volume.
“These envelopes are so full that we couldn’t put them all in,” Farrenkopf said. “This year we have white paper bags and we will hang them in front of their door. Now we can really fill them to capacity. If it’s anything like last year, we’ll have lots of valentines.
SLH delivered bags to schools for students to add decorations.
“We work with schools. We call them intergenerational activities and mix old people with children,” Farrenkopf said. “It’s generally quite successful because the two generations like each other. Having the kids decorate the bags adds an element of fun. Residents are excited to see the bag and watch it fill up!
On Thursday, students at Corvallis Elementary School in Liz Jameson and Michelle Studer’s fourth grade classes were busy decorating the white paper bags that will serve as Valentine’s Day receptacles. Students will also make valentines for the recipient of their decorated bags.
Jameson said the students often communicate with the elderly.
“We made cards for them for other things, Christmas and Halloween for example,” Jameson said. “A lot of them recognize the names and want the same person to make a bag. We don’t know the last names and there are no photos, but the children remember who they made cards for.
She compared it to a grandparent’s adoption program.
“We used to go meet them and now with COVID we can’t,” Jameson said. “We used to go and bake Christmas cookies and the change is very sad. But we make the bags, and school kids and maybe adults all over the valley make the valentines. We decorate the bags because we have a great relationship with Dominic.
Jameson said Farrenkopf has been coming to his class every year for about 20 years to read to his students.
“He also comes to teach poetry writing,” she said. “We also make cards for Soroptimists. They give a tea to everyone over 90 in the valley, but they couldn’t because of COVID, but we made them cards to give away. Most of the kids got a card back which was very cool.
The students decorated the bags and wrote on the bottom: “Made especially for you by…” and put their names.
In the adjacent room, students from Michelle Studer’s fourth grade class were also decorating bags.
Studor said effort teaches compassion.
“The kids are excited to help others in the community, they feel like they’re part of something,” Studor said. “We had made Christmas cards for them in December. Children are happy to decorate bags and they will also make a Valentine to put in them.
His students had computer designs drawn for decorating ideas.
“They’re very talented,” Studor said.
Farrenkopf said the Valentine’s Day program is great for residents of Sapphire Lutheran Homes, as many are now single and away from family.
“We haven’t moved as much as we used to,” he said. “We are opening now and having visitors again, but it feels good to remember. Valentine’s Day is a day when we celebrate the love of our neighbor, so when you receive a card in the mail that someone is thinking of you, it touches your heart. They know they are not forgotten and feel connected to the rest of the world.
Farrenkopf said all valentines are welcome, don’t need to be addressed to a specific person, and return addresses are optional.
“We can accept them from now until Valentine’s Day,” Farrenkopf said. “They can post them or drop them off. We are open 24 hours a day, so people should ring the bell and then leave the cards at reception. We distribute them fairly. If you have someone in particular you want to give a valentine to, write their name on the outside of the envelope and we’ll make sure they get it.
To participate in the project, deliver or send valentines to Sapphire Lutheran Homes, c/o Dominic Farrenkopf, 501 N. 10th St., Hamilton, MT 59840.