From pet rocks to paper chains to build-your-own Noah’s arks, the “Green Mailbox” in Prescott, Arizona, is growing in both its creative capabilities and popularity.
The mailbox was started by Prescott Cornerstone Church as a way for children to continue with Sunday school lessons. After all church services were moved online, the children and their families would drive to the mailbox once a week to pick up their lessons and projects.
It has since evolved into something much larger.
Heather Seets is the volunteer coordinator for the Good Samaritan Society in Prescott and also attends Cornerstone. When she heard about the mailbox, she asked the church if they could form a partnership to help with Prescott Good Samaritan Society’s 1,000 Hearts program, which was formed in March after visitor restrictions were placed on the care homes.
Heather and her team provided self-addressed, stamped envelopes for the children to use to send drawings to the senior citizens.
“The mail just started coming in. We’re still getting it,” Heather said.
To date, Heather estimates they’ve received at least 75 drawings which she then scans and prints to distribute out to the seniors.
After the success of the drawings through the Green Mailbox, Heather moved on to pet rocks, providing rocks, googly eyes and pipe cleaners to the kids, who sent back their little, unique creations.
“This program is cool because it reaches on so many different levels; it gives the kids something to do,” Heather said. “It’s something fun, yet they’re doing something meaningful.”
The second phase of the social-distanced volunteering is focused on the caregivers. The newest project is what Heather calls “links of love.” The children were given strips of construction paper and instructions to write thank you messages to the caregivers that work with the seniors. Once they receive enough links, Heather says they will construct them into paper chains to hang in the homes.
Heather says other churches in the area are jumping in to help create care packages for the 1,600-1,700 caregivers.
“This was something I dreamed up because I was trying to keep my volunteers busy, and I had no idea it was going to become so big,” Heather said.
Along with the joy of giving the seniors a little something to look forward to, Heather is grateful for the opportunity to give her volunteers something to work on.
“My volunteers are all in the same boat,” Heather said. “They want to help, but they’re stuck at home not able to do anything.”
Not only have the volunteers and children come together to support the seniors and caregivers, Heather says the Prescott community has really come together.
“Our hospice can’t afford to sustain all of this, so we started the Amazon wishlist, and the outpouring from the community has been amazing. Our own staff is buying stuff; churches are buying things,” Heather said.
Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Prescott Valley was also inspired by Cornerstone’s “Green Mailbox” and plans to have their children join in on the drawing and pet rock making.
Heather says she is grateful to Cornerstone for helping bring joy to the seniors and caregivers of Prescott.
“They’ve been kind enough to let us tag on to what they were already doing and add to it, so it’s been a good partnership,” Heather said.
As for the “Green Mailbox” it will continue to serve as a creative outlet for kids and a conduit to Prescott’s 1,000 Hearts program.
As Heather says, “It’s just a little cheer every day.”