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Irene Blystra, 84, saves each greeting card she receives at Valentine’s Day from Ridgewood Christian Reformed Church members in Jenison, Mich. “It’s fun to set them up and look them over. I never throw them away,” Blystra said.

(L-r) Elijah Augustin, Marcia Gears, and Twylla Nieboer prepare Valentine’s bags.

A month or so before Valentine’s Day, Ridgewood’s Caring Committee sets up colorful bags in the lobby for donors to deposit cards and treats for members who can’t leave their homes. Their names are on the bags and have been published in the bulletin. This year, 19 people will receive hand-delivered bags containing small favors, candy, and cards made by children.

Volunteers deliver the bags just before the 14th, visiting if the recipient’s health permits. “People light up with a smile. They’re always surprised and happy to see me,” said Ray Schat, one of the delivery volunteers. “We talk about things going on in their lives.”

Schat, 72, developed a heart for senior citizens when he used to deliver eggs to customers, including rest homes, where he noticed that some residents craved attention. “Some people would come to the front door to talk with me,” he recalled.

He figures now is a good time to shower the elderly with attention. “I love these people. I want to be a blessing to them and lighten their day,” he said.

Blystra said she herself was a card contributor at one time. “I did it too. Now it’s my turn to get them. You don’t want to be forgotten just because you are old and can’t do things in the church anymore.”

A similar gift-giving program happens each Christmas at Ridgewood.

“I’ve been getting cards a long time. I just turned 96,” Agnes Boomstra said. Evelyn Koppenol, 92, said, “It’s very nice that they are thinking about me.”

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