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Want to help spread love this Valentine's Day? Write an Illinois senior citizen

A Valentine's Day card is surrounded with heart-shaped plastic rings
RDNE Project
Illinois legislators are asking community members to help create homemade Valentine's Day cards to be delivered to nursing homes, assisted-living centers and other long-term care facilities.

Illinois state senators are asking their constituents to write or make Valentine’s Day cards this year to show their appreciation for senior citizens in long-term care facilities.

As part of annual drives, Sens. Erica Harriss, R-Glen Carbon; Jason Plummer, R-Edwardsville; Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, and Chris Belt, D-Swansea, are collecting cards that they and their staff will deliver across their districts on Feb. 14.

“It’s a super great opportunity for people of all ages to be able to reach out to other people in the community and say that they matter,” said Harriss, who added that she’s had both fellow seniors and youngsters already dropping off cards this year.

Valentine’s Day can be painful for those who’ve lost loved ones, especially senior citizens, Belt said.

“In a lot of instances, people who are in senior citizen homes, and places like that, they become isolated for that very reason: love,” Belt said. “I just wanted to make sure we sent cards to them to let them know that they are appreciated, to let them know they are loved and to really try to fight against depression.”

Last year, Senate Republicans collected 45,000 cards. Senate Democrats have been doing something similar for the past few years, Belt said.

Harriss and Plummer said they’d love to see students, scout groups, churches and families send letters this year. In the past, Belt said schools from Cahokia Heights and Belleville have sent messages.

Belt said he wasn’t quite sure what he’ll write this year. However, he knows he’ll want to say the recipient is appreciated.

“It means all the world, and it makes you feel good,” he said.

For Harriss, she said would probably try to make a card. Similarly, exactly what message she'll write, though, is still to be determined.

“Maybe something a little goofy to make them laugh, but I don't know for sure what that will be,” she said with a laugh.

She and Plummer will take cards through 4:30 p.m. Feb. 5. Cards can be dropped off at Harriss’ new Edwardsville office and Plummer’s Vandalia office. Tracy is taking cards through Feb. 5 at her offices in Quincy and Jacksonville.

Belt will take the letters through Feb. 9. Constituents can mail or drop off the cards at his East St. Louis or Swansea offices.

In a related effort, U.S. Rep. Nikki Budzinski, D-Springfield, will be collecting Valentine's cards for veterans through Feb. 9 at her district offices in Belleville, Springfield and Champaign.

Will Bauer is the Metro East reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.