Mom, daughters become pen pals with neighbours to help with isolation

This story is part of a series by CBC Manitoba about acts of kindness in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was made possible in part thanks to Manitobans who filled out CBC’s survey about acts of kindness they have initiated or experienced. 

After the first partial lockdown began in March, Larisa Jensen worried about her elderly neighbours whom she and her young daughters had gotten to know from their walks. 

“It just struck me that even though I get lonely and bored as a stay-at-home mom sometimes, a lot of them are more lonely than I am,” she said. 

Jensen said that while she has been lonely sometimes during the pandemic, she was worried her neighbours who live alone and who are older were feeling even more isolated than she was. (Gary Solilak/CBC News)

So she and her daughters started writing letters and making artwork for them to let them know they were not alone. 

Soon the small acts of kindness blossomed into friendships, and her neighbours became pen pals with her girls, even exchanging baking. Their communications continued until now, when Manitobans are living through a second partial lockdown.

Jensen said because it’s the holiday season, they’ve been trying to do something for their neighbours once every couple of days. 

“I think it can be an even harder time with many people. So I think I’ve been more aware of this,” she said. 

Jensen said it’s brought her so much joy to see how excited her oldest daughter, Acacia, who’s four years old, gets to deliver their letters and gifts.

Jensen said her daughters love dropping off their letters to their neighbours and seeing what they’ve received in return. (Gary Solilak/CBC News)

“She just gets so excited as we run down the street and drop them off,” she said. 

“She just got so excited to see their smile through the window, to say a quick ‘hi.'”

One of those neighbours is Laura Schmidt, who says the exchanges have brought her so much happiness.

“It fills me with love and it just brings joy to me every day I see them,” Schmidt said. 

Laura Schmidt says the exchanges have brought her so much joy. (Gary Solilak/CBC News)

Jensen’s youngest daughter Jasmine is only six months old, but her middle child Amber, who’s two years old, seems to understand the importance of their acts of kindness as well, she said. 

While the intention of these random acts of kindness was to make their neighbours feel less lonely, Jensen said it’s helped her get through a difficult year too. 

“It’s kind of been encouragement on both ends,” she said.

“It’s brought them encouragement and also brought me so much encouragement to see how such little things can make people happy.”

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