Chicago family honors grandparents by writing to Christmas cards to senior pen pals

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Handwritten notes on Christmas cards have become a lost art among younger generations, but the Giacomin siblings are spending a great deal of time doing it for people they don't even know.

The trio are reaching out with a friendly handwritten holiday greeting to residents at senior living facilities, isolated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We wanted to brighten someone's day and let them know that there are people thinking of them during these tough times," said Julia Giacomin.

Older sister Julia got the idea to reach out to senior citizens after losing her grandparents to the coronavirus this summer.

After months in relative isolation because of the pandemic, they died two days apart. So Julia recruited her sister and brother to begin writing letters to seniors.

"It's a good way to take the negative of our grandparent's dying and turn it into a positive to help us deal with the grief," said Jessica Giacomin.

The grandkids began reaching out to other seniors who have been living in isolation, starting a website called Pen Pal Social. For the holidays they set up a challenge to collect 500 holiday cards for Chicago area seniors.

They've recruited family, friends and classmates, and will happily take anyone willing to write friendly notes on a Christmas card.

"It's a good feeling to connect with other people," said AJ Giacomin.

The siblings said it will be a difficult holiday season without their grandparents, and they know it will also be tough on many seniors unable to be with family and friends at this time. But they want the seniors to know they have friends who are thinking about them, and writing them letters.

They plan to continue writing and collecting cards until December 20 when they will drop them off at area senior homes, just in time for Christmas.
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