GATESVILLE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) — Elderly residents at one Texas nursing home are using their time in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic to reach out and hopefully make some new friends.

Dozens of residents at Hillside Medical Lodge in Gatesville — about 100 miles north of Austin — are looking for pen pals.

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Many of the seniors are unable to see their families in-person, so when the offer was made 52 residents told workers at the home they wanted to participate in the Pen Pal Around the World campaign.

(credit: Hillside Medical Lodge/Facebook)

All of the participating residents took pictures with a whiteboard that explains who they are and some of the things they enjoy.

“I feel that it gives them something simple just easy to discuss that has nothing to do with negativity and COVID-19.” Susie Meelbusch-Woods, the director of public relations for Hillside, said.

The campaign is just getting underway, but the residents say they’re excited to see how many letters they receive and how many new friends they make.

Mary Ann is one of the residents and told CBS 11 News what she is looking forward to the most when the letters begin to arrive.

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“We want to write to people, and have them write back and we can learn about their lives and they can learn about us,” she said.

Workers at Hillside Medical Lodge say they always try to keep residents engaged. The home has done a Wellness Around the World campaign where residents learn about different countries and participate in activities related to that country.

(credit: Hillside Medical Lodge/Facebook)

Anyone wanting to participate in the Hillside Pen Pal Around the World campaign can look for a match on their Facebook page and then send letters to:

Hillside Medical Lodge
c/o “resident name”
300 S. Hwy 36 Bypass
Gatesville, TX 76528

 Please direct any questions to email @

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