Cary assisted care residents overwhelmed by pen pal response

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The mail carriers are staying busy in Cary. Two weeks ago, Phoenix Assisted Care put out a request on social media for pen pals, and now two weeks later, they're averaging about 3,000 letters a day.

"Leslie from Trinity, Alabama, it goes on and on," said Bonnie Price, a resident at the facility.

"A friend of mine saw a post and she sent it to me," said Donna Horton, an administrator at the facility. "I said well, let's try it. Maybe we will get 100, 200 letters. Yeah, how about 50,000 letters later in less than two weeks."

Horton said employees are working eight hours a day sorting through letters and packages.

"This has been Instagrammed; Katie Couric put it on her Instagram, Jennifer Gardiner has written letters," Horton said. "A guy from the "Big Bang Theory" has sent letters. We've got a Yankee fan, some of the Yankee former players have sent stuff, Dodgers fans have sent Dodger stuff, Lakers fans have sent Lakers stuff. It's truly a blessing."

"The next thing we knew, we were asked for pen pals," Price said. "I wrote mine, I said I was interested in sign language and books. I like books. The answers just started coming in, hundreds; my daughter called me and said, 'mom you've gone viral.'"

Price is one of 100 residents who have been quarantined since the second week of March and only able to see their families during window visits.

"It means a whole lot to me," she said. "I have less contact right now because of the corona. I never dreamed this many people would respond. Every single one of them is so caring and wanting to hear back. I even have heard from Ireland and some other countries also."

Horton said it has brightened the lives of residents.

"It's like we're giving them smiles," Horton said. "Imagine not getting to see your family since March. We have families that would come every single day. For them not able to see their families, touch them, hug them, kiss them this is just amazing. We're getting baby dolls. We have a lady that's getting over 100 baby dolls because that's what she asked for. It's amazing."

The overwhelming support is leaving some residents thinking there is enough to go around to other care facilities.

"I take my time and I just answer whatever they ask for and then I ask them," Price said. "It's wonderful. It's just so I can only say if you've got more people, we have boxes and boxes to answer, so many another assisted care, maybe they could also do it and have some of the mail."
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