COURTESY PHOTO Belvidere Republican
State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-35th District) is holding his fourth annual Valentines for Seniors Card Drive until Feb. 7. Besides schools and other groups, even a pet boutique got in on the fun, all to help brighten the day of seniors who live in long-term care facilities, or may be shut-ins in their home.

While it is not easy to think about, there are senior citizens out there who live in nursing homes and other senior facilities—or maybe alone at home—who have no family, or whose family is far away.

That reality was not lost on state Sen. Dave Syverson (R-35th District), who recalled visiting a family member in a facility and observing how there were residents who had no visitors.

“We had noticed a lot of seniors and people who were in these homes who did not have family or whose family was from out of town,” he narrated, and, thinking of Valentine’s Day, “They weren’t getting individual cards.”

Picturing how these seniors were once children who likely got Valentine cards, who were someone’s sweetheart—and raised children who gave and got Valentine cards—“It’s got to hurt. I wondered, ‘Are you forgotten?””

The decision to create the Valentines for Seniors Card Drive was an easy one for the senator, he said, on a number of levels.

Syverson said he reached out to schools throughout Winnebago, Boone, McHenry, Kane and DeKalb counties, as well as churches, businesses and any other groups that might have been willing to make Valentine cards for senior citizens.

Going on its fourth year, in that first year, 2021, the senator recounted, “We knew that it meant something.”

“The kids enjoyed making them” just as much as the seniors enjoyed receiving them, he continued.

According to a release submitted by the senator’s office, renowned celebrity Martha Stewart somehow got wind of the initiative, and upon her mention of it on social media, “I started getting cards from all over the country!” Syverson described.

“I don’t know how it got picked up,” he added with a chuckle.

The following year, Good Housekeeping magazine also learned about the Valentines for Seniors Card Drive, and featured the initiative on the magazine’s website.

As word spread around, “More and more individuals wanted to help,” the senator outlined—calling it a ripple effect—adding that in 2023 alone, he estimates his office delivered over 6,000 Valentine cards to seniors in facilities and even to those who live alone as shut-ins.

“It’s kind of neat to see some of these cards people write,” he continued, adding that on the recipient side, “The stories we hear back are really heart-warming.”

While he is thrilled to bring some joy to the seniors, Syverson thinks there is a benefit to those who are creating the cards as well; children and adults alike.

“We think people will enjoy giving back,” he said, “making someone’s day special.”

“Kids enjoyed making them. It was a win-win,” he added. “This shows people can have a positive impact on others’ lives without spending a lot of money [and] get the joy of impacting someone’s life.”

Syverson said he is shooting toward making sure seniors get at least two Valentine cards each, but hopes that number will be more like three cards apiece, in part because of “the fun of opening up lots of cards.”

Yet the reality of knowing there are isolated or lonely seniors is still at the forefront of his mind, the senator emphasized.

“You start thinking about some of these individuals. These people had an impact on the world we live in today,” he commented.

“This is a great opportunity for a community to help their own community and help seniors who had a huge impact on building their own community,” Syverson believes. “We don’t want them forgotten.”

Valentine cards will be collected through Feb. 7, and donors can drop off their cards or mail them to 527 Colman Center Drive, Cherry Valley, IL 60118; 158 W. State St., Suite C, Sycamore, IL 60178; or 115 W. Oak Knoll Drive, Route 72, Hampshire, IL 60140.

For information on how to have them picked up, call 815-987-7555 or email [email protected].

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