"Thank you for being the GOOD in our community!"
That's the message Carol Reynolds, resident Meals on Wheels of Hancock County cheer-maker, shares on her Facebook page in her mission to lift up friends and neighbors with sweet acts of kindness.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Carol and her friends at Brown's Chapel Wesleyan Church in Greenfield have been busy writing notes and cards of encouragement for Hancock County residents in the Meals on Wheels program.
"The real stars here are all those people who are taking their time to write out the cards and color the pages to help brighten the day of people who might be lonely and feeling isolated," she says.
Carol routinely volunteers for Meals on Wheels as a driver, and was motivated to start the notecard project as the COVID-19 pandemic further isolated those staying safe at home. Her strong faith and love of neighbors helped further her cause.
"The first day I did deliveries with the current no-contact model, although I totally understand and support the need for it, made me very, very sad. Although I know many clients have friends and family nearby and involved in their lives, all of the sudden even those folks had been cut off from that once a day contact with their drivers," she says.
"The thing about this pandemic is that it is so BIG, it is easy to feel hopeless. I just kept thinking about how isolated these treasured members of our society were going to be and it finally occurred to me that God was trying to tell me that I needed to do something. He gave me the idea to start collecting cards of encouragement to distribute to clients."
Carol says as a volunteer driver, she has always appreciated the opportunity to check in on people and make sure they are doing okay. And take a moment to chat if they're interested.
"I especially have enjoyed the Christmas Eve day deliveries," she says. "While I enjoy the interaction, it always makes me sad, as well, that some of the clients seem so very alone. We are designed by our Creator to live in fellowship with others, not alone and isolated."
Carol says she wasn't sure it was possible to quickly a notecard project, but was encouraged when MOW Executive Director Lynda Kosh said it could be done. She checked with Pastor Theo at Brown's Chapel, and received permission and support to collect the cards there.
Next step was doing it safely, she says.
"My husband and I found a new step-on wastebasket and strapped it to my church porch so people could drop off cards without touching anything. I began collecting the cards from the bin once a week," she says. "Then I take them home and lay them out on my table and spray them with Lysol. I let them sit for 3-4 days and then deliver them to MOW. They take it from there, managing the logistics of getting them distributed."
Carol is heading toward a total of 200 notes sent since the project started. More recently, Carol and her notecard crew were able to provide "103 cards to Meals on Wheels of Hancock County today from the past two weeks," she wrote in a May 19 Facebook post. "I will be collecting on Monday (May 25) evening this week. Would love to see some more artwork and coloring pages!"
A special moment for Carol since starting the notecard project happened the first time she collected cards from the bin.
"I didn't know what I would find. An empty bin would have hurt my heart, I think! I was overwhelmed to find it full of hand-written cards and letters," she says. "I had asked my church family to help with the writing and posted on social media asking for anyone interested to drop a card in the box. But I had people who had taken the time to write whole bags full of cards. I was just overjoyed, and so very grateful."
Carol says to contribute, place completed notes in the bin on the porch at Brown's Chapel Wesleyan Church, 994 N 600 E, Greenfield, IN 46140. She also encourages non-perishable donations for the food pantry operating through Brandywine Community Church.
Carols appreciates folks taking time to write notes of encouragement for those isolated at home.
"I am so thankful for each person who has taken the time and effort to encourage these precious individuals. Each of these MOW clients could be any of us someday," she says. "How would we feel if we were suddenly under house arrest with very little contact with the outside world? Thank you to each person who gets that and has answered the call to do a small part to brighten someone's day. You are the GOOD!"