WASHINGTON: Girls her age play Candy Crush or like watching cartoons, but 15-year-old Hita Gupta peps up hundreds of lonely Americans, including the elderly and children, marooned in nursing homes due to the COVID-19 lockdown by sending them gift packs and spirit-lifting notes.
The 10th-grade Indian-American student from Pennsylvania's Conestoga High School has an NGO 'Brightening A Day' and is using it to spread love, hope and joy among America's nursing homes' residents, especially senior citizens, to help them keep at bay their boredom arising from the COVID-19 restrictions.
Gupta brightens up their lives by sending them handwritten notes and gift packs containing puzzle and colouring books and a packet colour pencils. "It saddens me to think of how lonely or depressed many nursing home residents feel because they cannot see their loved ones. Our seniors are already one of the most isolated groups. A research has shown that more than 40 per cent of seniors regularly feel lonely," Gupta told PTI in an email interaction.
"During this uncertain time, which is causing panic among many seniors, it's our responsibility to let them know that they are not alone. I initially started sending gift packs to nursing homes using self-funding. Now, I have sent them to residents of 16 local nursing homes," she said.
Each gift pack contains one puzzle book, one colouring book, and a pack of colour pencils/crayons, Gupta said. "It also contains an uplifting note written by my 9-year-old brother Divit Gupta," she said.
Her NGO has reached more than 2,700 kids and seniors in 50 hospitals and nursing homes in seven different States in the US with hand-made cards on holidays like Christmas and Valentine's Day. "We have also sent school supplies and cards to orphanages in India," Gupta said.
Gupta's initiative has won her praise from one and all. "Need some inspiration? 15-year-old Hita Gupta, from Pennsylvania, USA, is brightening the lives of nursing home residents with gift packs through her NGO, Brighten A Day," the US Embassy in New Delhi wrote on its Facebook page.
"She aims to lift the spirits of those who are in need of some cheer by sending them love, hope, and joy through cards and gifts. During the COVID-19 lockdown period, she is sending handwritten notes and gift packs to cheer the residents and help them overcome loneliness and isolation. More power to you Hita!" the embassy said.
Nursing homes throughout the US are limiting the interaction of senior citizens who remain mostly confined to their rooms. Outsiders are also prohibited form visiting them, resulting in feelings of loneliness and isolation in many of them.
The US is the worst affected country from the coronavirus, with 842,000 infections and over 46,000 deaths reported so far. According to Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention, eight in every 10 deaths due to the coronavirus reported in the US are adults, and people who are 65 years old or above.
Globally, the coronavirus pandemic has claimed over 185,000 lives and infected more than 2.6 million people, according to the Johns Hopkins University data.