The Citymeals Blog

Food for Though
Handmade cards volunteers from the School for Tourism and Hospitality in the Bronx

Sending Love During Covid

This Valentine’s Day, we’re thinking of our meal recipients, most of whom will be spending the holiday at home alone. That’s what makes our Handmade Cards program so important  — it’s a way to safely send love to the homebound elderly during this difficult time. Citymeals distributes cards all year for major holidays and occasions, including Easter, Thanksgiving, Earth Day, Eid, and more, as well as the start of each season and birthdays.

“Our volunteers aren’t able to have in-person contact with meal recipients now and so the connection is very different from what they’re used to,” says Sheila Clay, who has coordinated the Handmade Card program for over 15 years. “But the handmade cards can hopefully bring joy and comfort to the homebound elderly during this difficult time.”

Last year, students, community, and corporate groups including Ernst & Young and McKinsey & Company created 80,000 cards for birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions — over 10,000 more than last year. Each card is included along with a nourishing meal, delivered to one of our homebound elderly neighbors.

Older New Yorkers are grateful for these cards and the thought that goes into them. Anna, an 80-year-old meal recipient living in Brooklyn wrote: “The beautiful cards from the children adorn my walls. This food nourished my body, but the thoughts and love that come my way touched my soul.”

Handmade cards for Citymeals recipients.

For more than five years, the local group Muslim Volunteers for New York has been creating handmade cards for Citymeals, in addition to delivering meals to their frail aged neighbors. Board member Mubeen Siddiqui explains, “We need to fulfill homebound senior’s emotional needs, too — connection, care, and love.”

Volunteers from Muslim Volunteers for New YorkPhoto Credit: Muslim Volunteers for New YorkThis year for Valentine’s Day, the group created 2,300 handmade cards. “We’ve seen an outpouring of love,” says Mubeen. “I think people are having a heightened sense of compassion because they’re also experiencing this isolation themselves.”

The handmade card program enables a physically distant but emotionally close connection between members of the community. For our meal recipients, many of whom have outlived their friends and relatives, a personalized card is often a cherished gift.

“Service in the community is an incredible opportunity for our kids,” says Jane Katz, a math teacher at the School of Tourism and Hospitality in the Bronx. She helped her students create handmade cards for their frail aged neighbors and learn about the impact of Covid-19 and isolation on seniors in their community. “There’s nothing better for them than to do something for someone else.”

At a time when our homebound elderly neighbors have even less contact and interaction, the Citymeals card program is even more special. Learn more about the program and how you can contribute cards. 

Food For Thought