Susan Stucki went door to door at the senior living center, her arms full of roses and a bag over her arm with handmade Valentine’s cards.
The cards had been made by JustServe volunteers around Idaho Falls who had signed up for the Operation Cupid Heart to Heart project. The fresh roses were donated to the effort.
At first, no one answered number 11, so Stucki went on to 12, but then 11 slowly opened, and a woman appeared. Stucki asked her if she would like a rose and a Valentine.
Her name was Bonny Tew and “she was so emotional,” said Stucki. “She said she had been looking at roses online and wishing she could have a pink rose. There in my arms was a light colored pink she chose, and she was so excited. Then I pulled out a Valentine, and I knew it was meant to be hers.”
The Valentine had been written by a child. Tew read it out loud to Stucki — it said, “Dear human, I know you’ve had a hard year but I want you to know that there are angels around you … You are loved, and you are important.”
Stucki and Tew have stayed in touch since that day in February 2021, becoming friends through Facebook and exchanging messages and uplifting each other. “She calls our friendship, ‘the legend of the rose,’” said Stucki.
Growth of the JustServe project
Susan Stucki serves with her husband, Gaylen Stucki, as JustServe area specialists for Idaho Falls. They connected with Chanse Powell from Senior Solutions during a mask-making project in 2020. Stucki said she and Powell realized in early 2021 that by using JustServe.org to find volunteers, they could help gather valentines for many of the community’s elderly population.
Students at several area schools signed up, and Stucki or Powell picked up those cards. Other people mailed their cards to Senior Solutions or dropped them off.
“This was a fabulous way for us to involve our stake JustServe specialists. They got together and sorted the valentines and helped deliver them,” said Stucki.
They set a goal to have enough cards to give to 2,000 seniors — and they ended up with 5,050. Extra cards went to first responders, hospitals and hospice care workers.
“If someone took time to hand craft a valentine, it needed to be delivered. We wanted those roses and valentines to be used,” said Stucki.
That 2021 project grew larger in 2022. This past February, the project — renamed Valentine’s for Seniors — brought in 6,600 Valentine’s Day cards, showing the power of JustServe and the desire of so many to show love to others.
“Everyone that participated loved it,” said Stucki. “I think it will keep growing more well known and people will be excited for it in years to come.”
She said she was impressed not only by how many students and children made cards, but also how many adults sent in valentines as well — and they were beautiful, hand crafted cards.
“That’s a successful experience that involved hundreds of people that created them, and thousands of recipients,” said Stucki.
Bonny’s second valentine
This year, while sorting cards, Stucki noticed a special handmade card in a pink envelope, addressed to “a very special lady.” Stucki knew even without reading the message that it should go to her friend Bonny Tew.
Tew told Stucki what the card said inside: “You are amazing. Of all the bad days you’ve had in your life so far, your success rate of getting through them is 100%. And that is no small thing. You are better than you think you are, and you are so loved. Happy Valentine’s Day 2022 and may each precious day be a happy one for you. Love from your secret friend.”
So while the project reached thousands of people around Idaho Falls, Stucki saw the tremendous impact it had on one individual life. And that’s the way the Savior ministers, she said — He cares about each individual child of God, but it is up to everyone to be His hands to give them that message that they are loved. That’s the power of collaboration and the power of volunteers.
“You don’t always get to see the end result with the recipients in JustServe,” said Stucki. “But with Bonny, I lived it with her.”