A group of friends gathered at a Plano park Thursday morning, not for fun, but for volunteer work.
"We wanted to do something to give back to the community," Kareena Chawla said. "We thought, 'Where can we help?' And these care packages, volunteering, this is something we can do."
Chawla, Shreena Bhatt, Amisha Kumar, Aritra Baidya, Anuj Gupta, Aryan Chawla, and Charmi Modi grew up together in Collin County. When the pandemic hit, they thought of their grandparents sheltering in their homes. Then they thought of other seniors who weren't able to visit in-person with their families because they're in nursing care, assisted living or memory care facilities.
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"It's really easy for people to feel lonely during these times," Bhatt said. "Right now I feel like people's mental health is really impacted. People are isolated, lonely and sad."
That's why the friends started COVID Check-In. They gather donations to put together care packages of puzzles, games, coloring books, snacks and hand-written notes to deliver to senior living centers.
"I truly feel for all the seniors in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, memory care centers, who aren't even able to step outside the facility. It's heartbreaking and we really feel for them," Chawla said. "We truly care for them. We want to show our love, how much we appreciate them, and that they're not forgotten."
COVID Check-In has delivered to five facilities in North Texas so far. The care packages assembled Thursday will be delivered to a facility in Allen on Monday.
"I feel like we're helping their mental health, but we're helping our mental health as well," Bhatt said. "I think we just like spreading happiness all around."