A Pennsylvania teenager is doing her part to help out as the world shuts down due to the coronavirus pandemic, bringing puzzle books and handwritten notes to nursing home residents stuck inside without visitors and with little to do, CNN reports.
Even under ordinary circumstances, the life of a nursing home resident can be difficult, filled with boredom and loneliness. During the coronavirus pandemic, things have been even worse for such residents, with family members and loved ones who would otherwise visit the residents barred from entering the building due to fears they might spread the virus to the vulnerable residents inside.
Hita Gupta, 15, had been visiting nursing home residents for the past year, organizing bingo and trivia games for her elderly friends. However, since the coronavirus pandemic ground everything to a halt, she's been unable to go inside the facilities and visit with residents.
"They told me that I couldn't visit because they were trying to limit interaction with seniors to prevent the spread," Gupta said.
She wasn't going to let the new reality thwart efforts to bring joy to residents, however. She decided that if she couldn't go inside the building, she could at least send them gifts. Specifically, she's been assembling "goodie bags" that include large-print puzzle books, as well as adult coloring books and colored pencils.
"The puzzle and coloring books will help nursing home residents stimulate their minds and keep them occupied," the teen said, noting that each goodie bag also includes a handwritten note from her 9-year-old brother, Divit.
"My brother helps me a lot. It's a lot of work," she said.
As of this writing, Gupta has delivered care packages to 23 nursing homes in and around Philadelphia. She notes that she typically calls the facilities in advance to let them know she's coming and leaves her gifts at the door. Staff usually let the packages stay outside for a while to allow any pathogens that might have been still active on the surfaces to die off.
Initially, Gupta paid for the gift bags with her own money, but as the acts of kindness have expanded, costs have gotten away from her. Fortunately, she says, her community has stepped up to help out with the costs. What's more, she's started a GoFundMe page to raise money for her work. As of this writing, her crowdfunding campaign has raised just over $3,000 of a goal of $5,000.
Meanwhile, Gupta's good deed has inspired others to do the same.
"I've heard from a lot of people and people are sharing on social media. They've reached out saying 'you've inspired me to do a similar project in my area,'" she said.