Search is on for pen pal participants

Emerald Men's Shed president Russell Jolley and Peter Maloney with a pen pal letterbox.

Elderly residents within the Dandenong Ranges are being encouraged to get involved in a pen pal initiative with local primary school students.

The Hills Hub has teamed up with the Emerald Village Association and Emerald Primary School to have students and elderly residents swap letters during the second round of Covid-19 lockdowns.

The initiative will see an older person in the hills matched with a Grade 5 student from Emerald Primary to exchange letters over six months, writing one letter per month.

Emerald Village Association’s Peter Maloney said it will be great for participants to get back to “old fashioned letter writing” during a time when it’s needed most.

“It’s an old fashioned idea which we are modernising a little bit and putting it into the context of the environment that we’re living in today,” he said.

“Getting back to the basics of writing and using their imagination, writing stories about what’s happening around their life.”

About 75 students from Emerald Primary School have already signed up to be involved, and the search is now on for a similar number of residents from the hills.

Funding from Cardinia Shire Council will help supply stationary and postage stamps, while the Emerald Men’s Shed contributed letter boxes for students and the local post office will help with distribution.

“It’s going to be quite the community project,” Mr Maloney said.

“This is just another positive way to spend some time and get to know one another through letter writing.”

An afternoon tea will be held at the Hills Hub towards the end of the project to introduce pen pals and celebrate the program.

“We’re going to invite the whole lot of them, including the teachers and students, into the hub to meet each other for the first time and put a name to a face,” Mr Maloney said.

“It may end up developing a lifelong relationship, who knows.”

Registrations for the Pen Pal Project close on 24 July. To register, SMS 0439 112 204 or email peter.maloney@emeraldrsl.com.au.