FALLS CHURCH, Va. (WDVM) — Northern Virginia mom Sara Essaid and her toddler are spending a lot more time at home than usual during the pandemic, so they’re helping out their neighbors who are especially in need of a smile.

Their neighbors are residents of the Powhatan Nursing Home and they can’t see visitors right now. 39 of them agreed to receive letters from the Essaids’ friends and family and Sara sanitized the notes with gloves on and double-enveloped them. On Monday, Sara and her son dropped the notes off at the nursing home’s front door.

Sara Essaid and her son drop off the letters on Monday afternoon.

“Kindness and compassion are at the foundation of everything that I’m trying to teach my child,” said Essaid. “So in thinking through our family’s plans and what we wanted to do through this pandemic, one of the things that really stood out was how fortunate we are that we can include my parents in our plans; that we don’t have to be completely away from my son’s grandparents.”

Each package contains stationery and stamps if the resident chooses to write back to their new pen pals. 

“I see a lot of people refer to being ‘stuck at home’ right now, and I have made an effort to not use that language,” Essaid said. “There are so many incredibly brave people who are risking their own health and safety in order to keep us all safe. I feel fortunate that I am able to stay home as a means of staying safe. I never want my son to feel like I am disappointed to be staying home with him. So another point of these letters has been finding ways to not just connect with my community but to connect with my son in meaningful ways. So that when he looks back on these times, he doesn’t remember his mom lamenting being stuck at home. He remembers us coming together as a family to support our community while also building the bonds of family.”

Sara Essaid