Wareham teen wins hearts with senior Valentine's cards
Leah Gagnon has a way of making local seniors smile.
Two-hundred-thirty-six ways, in fact. That’s the number of Valentine’s cards the 14-year-old Wareham resident gathered through January to give away to seniors in local nursing homes.
The cheerful plan began late in 2016, when Leah devised a plan to gather Christmas cards for seniors.
“I have a great-grandmother in a nursing home,” she explained. “I know that some of them don’t have family and they don’t always have visitors. I wanted them to feel like somebody remembered.”
“I told her it was a great idea and waited to hear back from her,” said Kate Mahoney, the Volunteer Coordinator for Hospice Services of Massachusetts. “I waited, and she called me back a week and a half before Christmas with 437 cards.”
The response from seniors was overwhelming.
“One man waved his card around for everyone to see, and kept it on his lap for the rest of the day. Some people cried. A lot of them still have their Christmas cards taped to their doors,” said Hospice Services of Massachusetts’ community liaison, Melissa Plourde.
As for Leah, she decided that she wanted to do even more, and organized a second greeting card drive for Valentine’s Day. “I’d been able to gather so many cards the first time. I didn’t see why I shouldn’t do it again, when everyone enjoyed them so much the first time.”
It is the first time that anything like this has been done in their system previously, and it’s even more remarkable that the project is headed by a 14-year-old girl. “A very bright and conscientious girl,” according to Mahoney, with a heart of gold, who was able to get her family and community in on the drive.
Leah’s parents, Mark and Jody Gagnon, were amazed at the community response to Leah’s idea. “It’s great to see all of the people who loved the idea and helped out,” Jody said.
The cards will be distributed amongst several Hospice Services of Massachusetts nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and assisted living centers, as they were on the Christmas drive.