Chester County teen cheering up nursing home residents during COVID-19 outbreak

BERWYN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A Chester County, Pennsylvania teen is making it her mission to help brighten the lives of senior citizens in the region during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Each note has little words of encouragement like "keep smiling" and "you are loved." The authors are 9 and 15 years old. Their only goal is to bring a couple of smiles to a group of people who may be feeling alone.

"They're not alone and the community cares about them," said high school sophomore Hita Gupta, the founder of the non-profit "Brighten A Day."

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She got the idea when the pandemic started. Before there were stay-at-home orders, she was spending her free time volunteering at a nursing home.

"A few weeks ago I learned that I couldn't go there anymore because they weren't allowing any visitors, they were also canceling a lot of the activities that were going on in the building because they were trying to limit the interaction between seniors," she said.

She says she wanted to show the seniors she cared even if she couldn't physically be there. So she started collecting activity books and colored pencils to donate to senior centers, a total of 14 so far.

"The one thing we want to focus on is normalcy. We want to still make sure the residents are engaged, they're happy," said Kevin McTague, who works at Wayne Center, a Genesis HealthCare facility.

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He says donations like Gupta's are really making a difference.

"Anything that you send the residents that is handwritten is special to them right off the bat no matter what," he said.

For now, most of Gupta's care packages are going to facilities in Chester County, but she says she sees the nonprofit getting much bigger than that, which is why she's reaching out to facilities in different states and even different countries.

"Loneliness is one of the biggest problems that people of all ages face today and I want to be able to bring love, hope, and joy to as many people as I can," she said.

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