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Comforting correspondence: ‘Peanuts’ pen pal writes to older adults amid pandemic

In this Dec. 20, 2020, still image taken from video, Wesley Morgan, a 32-year-old in Denver, shows a letter from one of his “Peanuts” pen pals. After being furloughed from his job at the Denver International Airport, Morgan began writing to over 500 older adults living in isolation due to the pandemic. He says 142 responded, and many have become consistent correspondents. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Even before she sees the name on the return address, Nancy Sloane knows who sent the letter — the Snoopy sticker that seals the envelope is a dead giveaway.

It’s from Wesley Morgan, a 32-year-old fan of the comic strip “Peanuts” who’s been sending Snoopy-themed cards and letters across the country to ease the solitude of older adults in isolation due to the coronavirus.

“He’s kept me from being lonely,” said Sloane, 67, a retired teacher now quarantined at the Brookdale Senior Living Community in Denver. “I look forward to his letters.”

After Morgan was furloughed from his job at the Denver International Airport in March, he soon ran out of shows to stream and items to craft.

“The house was always clean, and I did ‘Tiger King,’ like the rest of the world,” he explained. “And then what?”

Morgan learned of a friend’s efforts to write to people at a Denver nursing home and felt called to do the same, putting to use his beloved “Peanuts” cards and stationery sets, collected and hoarded over many years.

“I couldn’t think of a better way to use this collection,” he said. “It was something I could do from home. I didn’t have to leave.”

At first, Morgan simply went to Google, scouring the internet for places or people to whom he could write. He eventually stumbled upon several Facebook groups like “Forget Me Not” and “From the Heart” that take and share requests for letter correspondence. There he found lists of eager recipients, ranging from dozens of residents of a nursing home in New Hampshire to a single elderly woman recommended by her mail carrier.

Since then, he has sent over 500 letters, and has heard back from 142 people. Many of them have become regular correspondents — his “Peanuts” pen pals, as he calls them.

“Almost every time I receive anything back it is pages,” he said, smiling. “They just have so much to share and talk about.”

Sloane is one of his most regular correspondents. She lives alone, recovering from multiple ailments, and her only in-person interactions come twice a day with facility caregivers. She and Morgan began writing each other so frequently that they recently switched to email to speed the correspondence.

“We write about our pets, I tell him about my travels and my journeys and the work I used to do,” she said. “I don’t know. Maybe because I’m so holed up in here, I love to tell about my past.”

As her toothless rescue cat passed behind her head on the back of the couch, Sloane explained how important Morgan’s letters have been.

“I’d read his letters and reread them,” she said. “It just cheers me up that there’s somebody, quite frankly, that cares about me.”

They hope to meet in person someday.

“When this is all over Wesley, I’m going to take you out to dinner,” she told him by email, while acknowledging with a laugh that she can’t drive due to a botched knee surgery, so he’ll have to take her instead.

In early November, Morgan returned to work at the airport. But he continues his correspondence with anyone and everyone that writes him back. More recently he even included holiday gifts of socks and slippers — “Peanuts”-themed, of course.

“They’ve been a bright spot for me this year,” Morgan said, “and I just wanted them to know that.”

“One Good Thing” is a series that highlights individuals whose actions provide glimmers of joy in hard times — stories of people who find a way to make a difference, no matter how small. Read the collection of stories at https://apnews.com/hub/one-good-thing

Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

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