Last year, a New Bedford couple wanted to make a difference in the lives of senior citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic by sending homemade Christmas cards to nursing homes.

This year, Ian MacAlistair White, Lisa White, and a motivated group of community members managed to collect over 1,000 Christmas cards to be distributed to the elderly on the SouthCoast to spread holiday cheer and bring the community closer together.

The lockdown of 2020 was a dark time, and Ian White’s heart went out to those who may be alone around the holidays.

“Lisa, my wife, is very involved in the community, and we started finding out about depression in nursing homes,” Ian White said. Seniors were being completely cut off from the outside world to protect them from the dangers of COVID-19, but it resulted in widespread depression and loneliness in many nursing communities.

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“This program began as a means of combating seasonal depression during the lockdown of 2020,” Lisa White said.

That’s when the Whites came up with a plan to ask the community’s help in making homemade Christmas cards.

“In speaking with activity directors at our nursing homes around the city, we found that isolation was having a profound impact on mental health, and holiday cards seemed like a fun solution,” she said.

They managed to collect 350 cards in 2020. This year, they have collected 1,400 cards, and they are still counting.

With the help of the New Bedford Public Schools Art Director Lynn Souza and the owner of Pa Raffa’s, Kristin Raffa Cahill, they were able to get the word out about their mission.

“The goal was supposed to stop depression,” White said. “To show them that they are still connected to the community. If it continues to grow, we could reach every senior in the city and no one would be left out.”

The Whites, Sousa, and Cahill viewed this as a great opportunity to connect different generations together and act as a gentle reminder that the world is a better place when we stay connected.

“The program is a great opportunity to pause the chaos of the holiday season and teach the kids about the true spirit of the season,” Cahill said. “Our college students had more fun making cards than any of the kids!"

Thanks to this group’s effort, the elderly community of the SouthCoast will be receiving Christmas cards by the handful, made by students and kind-hearted people in the area.

No one should have to be alone during the holidays, and while we continue to keep the elderly community safe, the Whites and their friends will continue to show them that they are not alone.

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