It didn’t take long after visitor restrictions were in place for Heather Seets to get creative.

As the volunteer coordinator for the Good Samaritan – Prescott Hospice and Marley House, Heather knew making connections with residents was going to be more important than ever.

“I had to try and figure out how to still reach people inside our senior homes without actually visiting with them face-to-face,” she says.

Before the pandemic, Heather’s volunteers donated their time to visit hospice patients in their homes and at Good Samaritan locations in Prescott, Ariz. When this was no longer possible, she wondered how many other seniors in the Prescott quad-city area would be unable to have visitors from family, friends and volunteers.

That’s when she got the idea to start the 1,000 Hearts projects.

The “heart” behind the project is the roughly 1,000 seniors living in skilled nursing facilities, assisted living residences and care homes in Prescott and the surrounding area.

“I was trying to think big and act quickly,” says Heather. “I put the plea out to my new and seasoned volunteers and asked if they would help, and the response has been overwhelming.”

Each week, hospice volunteers are creating handwritten cards and crafts like paper flowers, bookmarks, inspirational booklets and more to ensure that each of the 1,000 seniors know that someone is thinking of them.

To create a way for volunteers to safely contribute, Heather set up a drive-through in the Good Samaritan – Prescott Hospice and Marley House parking lot. Three times a

week, volunteers can drive up and she hands them a project – such as greeting cards – through their car window. After completing it, they can then drop it off using the same route and pick up the next project.

All of the items are then disinfected or left to sit for a few days before they are packaged up and delivered to senior care locations.

Since the campaign started a few weeks ago, more of the Prescott community has gotten involved. One local church has tasked their kids with making pictures, paintings and poems. They then mail them to the Good Samaritan to be distributed.

“That is what I call heart mail,” Heather says. “Every time we get one of these envelopes in the mail with a heart on it, we know we are getting another sweet creation by one of the kids in town.”

Another church is creating pet rocks with themes from animals to plants.

“The challenge is finding ways to do things inexpensively, but on a massive scale,” says Heather.

As long as COVID-19 keeps visitor restrictions in place, Heather and her growing team of volunteers plan to keep finding ways to reach each resident in a special way.

“We want them to have constant reminders that they are loved, that they are not forgotten and that nothing is impossible through Christ,” says Heather.

Her advice for other volunteers feeling at a loss to help: “Get creative and stay positive,” she says. “There’s lots of great ideas out there and we’re simply trying to do inspirational things for seniors in our community.”

How you can help the 1,000 Hearts project

The project has an Amazon wish list for needed items. If you would like to purchase an item to donate, click here.

Please ensure your item is shipped to the following address with the correct quantity you wish to purchase:

Good Samaritan – Prescott Hospice and Marley House

1065 Ruth Street

Prescott, AZ 86301