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For a lot of seniors at assisted living facilities, keeping in touch with their loved ones has not been very easy, especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lack of access to technology to connect to Zoom or any other form of online communication kept them further away from their loved ones as they were isolated during the pandemic.

Olivia Alvarez, recreation supervisor at Brentwood Senior Activity Center, and her team knew that they had to do something to lift the holiday spirits of these seniors.

“So we thought to ourselves, what a better way than to send them Christmas cards and be able to share with them some of the holiday spirit?”, Alvarez said as she decorated a package that held Christmas cards, hand-made by the students of Brentwood Unified School District.

Olivia Alvarez packages Christmas cards with decorations before handing them out. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News)

According to Alvarez, the City of Brentwood started the “Senior Holiday Card Campaign” in 2020 with a goal of collecting 500 holiday cards and received about 1,000 cards.

“All the kids that participated in the campaign last year, wanted to help and gift the seniors again this year. So, we did the campaign again this year, and we ended up with 1,600 Christmas cards,” Alvarez said.

While the senior activity center mailed out some of the cards, Olivia Alvarez delivered some cards in person at senior facilities such as at Westmont of Brentwood and at Cortona Park, on Friday. “I love handing out cards to the seniors in person and watch them open and read the card,” Alvarez said. “I’ve even seen seniors come to tears from the cards.”

In addition to handing out holiday cards, the city also runs an “Adopt-a-Senior” campaign for which the senior activity center collaborates with nonprofit organizations to connect seniors with sponsors. Each sponsor then buys some or all items from the senior’s wish list, which is often based on what the senior needs or wants for Christmas.