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Germantown library starts pen pal program to connect kids and senior citizens during pandemic

Germantown library has hopes of continuing "Dear Friend" program beyond COVID-19 pandemic.

GERMANTOWN, Tenn. — The COVID-19 pandemic has been going on for four weeks now. That's four weeks of parents having to find ways to keep their kids engaged and entertained at home.

The Germantown Community Library may have its doors closed but its arms are still open. Library Director Daniel Page said since the start of the pandemic, people have been reaching out to the library for help.

"People just wanting to know what can we do? What are some things we can do to continue early childhood literacy and life long learning? And to stay connected and feel like we're not alone," Page said.

Last week, the Germantown Community Library started what it calls the "Dear Friend" program, a pen pal program to connect kids with senior citizens. Within the first two days of announcing it, 30 people had signed up to participate.

"It is really something we're excited about and I'm hoping that we can continue this beyond this current crisis which I think will be a blessing for us in our community," Page said.

The idea isn't exactly unique to the library. Page said they got the idea from libraries across the country starting similar pen pal programs during the pandemic.

Page said he hopes it is mutually beneficial for both the kids who need something to do but also to connect them with senior citizens, a group traditionally more isolated, but now more so than ever.

"Maybe another blessing from this experience is that we as a society do a better job at connecting with senior citizens whether it's in senior care facilities, nursing homes or maybe just in their home where they're housebound or they're just feeling lonely and we can connect with them," he said.

The library has begun to connect pen pals but people can still sign up. They encourage other libraries in the Mid-South to start similar programs.

Click here if you're a Germantown resident wishing to join the program, or contact Daniel Page at dpage@germantown-tn.gov for more information.

The USPS said, in according to the CDC, the risk of sending letters is very low,"“in general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets.”