From pet rocks to paper chains to build-your-own Noah’s arks, the “Green Mailbox” in Prescott, Arizona, is growing in both its creative capabilities and popularity.
The mailbox was started by Prescott Cornerstone Church as a way for children to continue with Sunday school lessons. After all church services were moved online, the children and their families would drive to the mailbox once a week to pick up their lessons and projects.
It has since evolved into something much larger — something that can serve as an example of how to help generations keep in touch during the coronavirus pandemic.
Heather Seets is the volunteer coordinator for the Good Samaritan Society in Prescott and also attends Cornerstone. When she heard about the mailbox, she asked the church if they could form a partnership to help with Prescott Good Samaritan Society’s 1,000 Hearts program, which was formed in March after visitor restrictions were placed on the care homes.
‘The mail just started coming in’
Seets and her team provided self-addressed, stamped envelopes for the children to use to send drawings to the senior citizens.
“The mail just started coming in. We’re still getting it,” Seets said.
To date, Seets estimates they’ve received at least 75 drawings that she then scans and prints to distribute out to the seniors.
After the success of the drawings through the Green Mailbox, Seets moved on to pet rocks. She provided rocks, googly eyes and pipe cleaners to the kids, who sent back their little unique creations.
“This program is cool because it reaches on so many different levels; it gives the kids something to do,” Seets said. “It’s something fun, yet they’re doing something meaningful.”
‘Links of love’ for caregivers
The second phase of the social-distanced volunteering is focused on the caregivers. The newest project is what Seets calls “links of love.” The children were given strips of construction paper and instructions to write thank you messages to the caregivers who work with the seniors. Once they receive enough links, Seets says they will form them into paper chains to hang in the homes.
Seets says other churches in the area are jumping in to help create care packages for the 1,600 to 1,700 caregivers.
“This was something I dreamed up because I was trying to keep my volunteers busy, and I had no idea it was going to become so big,” Seets said.
Along with the joy of giving the seniors a little something to look forward to, Seets is grateful for the opportunity to give her volunteers something to work on.
“My volunteers are all in the same boat,” Seets said. “They want to help, but they’re stuck at home not able to do anything.”
Not only have the volunteers and children come together to support the seniors and caregivers, Seets says the community has really come together.
“Our hospice can’t afford to sustain all of this, so we started the Amazon wishlist, and the outpouring from the community has been amazing. Our own staff is buying stuff; churches are buying things,” Seets said.
Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Prescott Valley also was inspired by Cornerstone’s Green Mailbox and plans to have their children join in on the drawing and pet rock making.
Seets says she is grateful to Cornerstone for helping bring joy to the seniors and caregivers of Prescott.
“They’ve been kind enough to let us tag on to what they were already doing and add to it, so it’s been a good partnership,” Seets said.
As for the Green Mailbox, it will continue to serve as a creative outlet for kids and a conduit to Prescott’s 1,000 Hearts program.
As Seets says, “It’s just a little cheer every day.”