Man organizes drive to deliver Valentine’s Day cards to every Central NY nursing home resident

March 1, 2021
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If you live in a nursing home, the last year has been lonely and sometimes depressing.

The coronavirus pandemic has locked down nursing homes with few visitors allowed and residents often stuck in their rooms.

It has cancelled holiday and other celebrations.

And the virus has killed at least 12,743 nursing home residents in the state and made many other residents sick.

“It’s been a crappy year all around for us,’’ said Thomas Phillips, 62, who is a resident of Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing home in Rome. “No holidays, no celebrations, no getting together, no visitors. Masks and lockdowns.”

So Phillips decided to do something about it: He wants to send a Valentine’s Day card to every resident in a nursing home or skilled care facility in the region and beyond if possible.

Phillips joined with Ky Reardon – a person he connected with on social media – to get Valentine’s Day cards signed and delivered to the more than 11,000 nursing home residents across the “315″ area code region.

The two dubbed it ‘”Operation Valentine” and soon had 22 nursing homes on board sending cards to nearly 3,000 residents. Most are in Madison and Oneida counties, but they have sent cards to North Carolina and Virginia. The list keeps growing as more want to participate, Phillips said.

Phillips, who has lived at The Grand for five years, said he has serious heart problems and tries to connect with the outside world by writing Facebook posts about life in a nursing home.

An aide purchased 600 Valentine’s Day cards for Philips, which he signed and then had someone deliver to drop boxes set up at two local coffee shops. Volunteers pick them up from the drop boxes and deliver them.

Another group of more than 125 volunteers who lived outside the nursing home have created their own homemade cards to send to nursing homes. Some of the cards are being dropped off and others are being mailed.

Phillips said the nursing homes participating have agreed to distribute the cards to residents.

“I just want to bring a smile to their faces, and maybe they can hang in their windows and know someone cares,’’ he said. “We are all Cupids and we just want do do a nice thing for everyone who has had such a really tough year.”

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