"It was very heartfelt. The kids told them about their lives during COVID-19, our residents shared that back."By Briana Smith

ROSS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Senior citizens living at the Northland Heights Assisted Living Center in Ross Township finally had the chance Wednesday to meet some of the younger friends they made throughout the year from the nearby Holy Cross Academy.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

They have been creating connections the old-fashioned way — through pen pal letters.

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A thoughtful “thank you” or a simple “hello” were just some of the messages written inside the cards that have been going back and forth between the two groups.

“Oh, I was surprised, believe me,” said Ted Storoz, a resident at Northland Heights Assisted Living. “The first thing I thought of was, ‘Now, how do I show how much I appreciated them contributing the way they did?’”

Storoz found his answer by sending back his own card and candy.

“There’s always got to be a little sweet stuff there,” said Storoz as he laughed.

Storoz along with 11 other seniors at Northland Heights and 15 students from Holy Cross Academy became pen pals over the winter months. They’ve kept writing throughout the pandemic and finally met for the first time on Wednesday.

“It was so hard to keep everyone’s morale up,” said Debbie Scheer, the Northland Heights Senior Living Recreation Director. “However, those letters were just a happy moment.”

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Scheer says the letters were inspirational and interpersonal.

“It was very heartfelt,” said Scheer. “The kids told them about their lives during COVID-19, our residents shared that back.”

“The kids have been really excited because they’ve gotten to know one or two residents just through letters,” said Julie Zizan, a third grade teacher at Holy Cross Academy.

Zizan hopes this has also helped them learn how to write a good old-fashioned letter.

“Just establish a relationship by telling a little bit about themselves, but also looking at what the seniors wrote to them and then asking them questions,” said Zizan.

The seniors say it did.

“To have it in writing really impressed me most of all,” said Storoz. “Is that they would take time out to put it on paper.”

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Now, they’re planning to make these written letters of kindness a tradition for years to come.