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Hearts open across the generations

Since I can't give you a kiss or a hug I give you this Valentine toshow you my love. Happy Valentine - Eric Anderson.

Because of Eric Anderson and his peers at Azalea Middle School in St. Petersburg, there will be a Valentine greeting on the lunch tray of every single Meals on Wheels participant in Pinellas County today.

It will be a red construction-paper heart, and its message will be from a young person to an older one.

Roses are Red, Violets are blue: Age don't matter, I still love you.

Dana Smith.

This mass Valentine's greeting was the brainchild of Jan Sebald, who coordinates volunteer services for the Neighborly Senior Services' Meals on Wheels program. She wanted something that would span the generations, something that would help the younger people feel they had made a contribution to the community and give the older folks a feeling of connection.

I know you are lonely so I wrote this for you. Happy Valentine's

Day.

The politic answer to why Sebald picked Azalea Middle would be that it's a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, recognized as such by President Bush. The reality, however, is that Sebald works out at the same health club as Ann Dallmann, the reading teacher at Azalea. When they proposed the idea to principal John Leanes, he thought it was terrific.

You're a very special person and you deserve a very special

Valentine's Day. We love you!

Dallmann worked on the project for a month, when time permitted, informing teachers and organizing students to cut out the hearts and get them distributed. Then on Friday, first period, Leanes got on the intercom and talked with the students about Meals on Wheels.

Violets are red, skys are blue, someone is special and I think it is you. Have a nice Valentine. - from Ricky Crosby

Each student from the sixth, seventh and eighth grades did three hearts. Some signed them, some didn't. Leanes said one student who has been arrested multiple times surprised him with the sentiment of his hearts; he told the boy so and praised him. Only one Valentine wasn't fit to send, and it was more silly than anything.

Even though you're getting older, all that means is you're getting

smarter and more dear every where.

"The research shows that this age group," Leanes said, "has a real need to do something community-wise. They wear their emotions on their sleeves. They want to show what they're feeling."

I love you so much, like sugar and spice. Please be mine. Elderlys are so nice. Love ya, Shannon Penn.

Each day there are about 1,800 hot meals served to people 60 or older in Pinellas County, people who are homebound or unable to do much for themselves. Need is the priority, not income. Many of the recipients have no family, or none nearby. In fact, volunteers who deliver meals quickly find that the daily visit is almost as important as the hot food.

If you are feeling sad or blue, think of what I'm saying to you.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sebald would like to repeat this greeting success, though it doesn't have to be on such a large scale every time. After all, the Azalea students produced 2,400 Valentines. (The rest will be distributed at congregate dining sites for the elderly.) Any school group, club, Scout troop, Sunday school class or other youth group that would like to make holiday greetings for Meals on Wheels, or just friendly messages for that matter, would be welcomed. A typical route is 20 persons, the whole county is 1,800. Anything in between would be welcome.

You are special. Will you be my Valentine?

For details, call Sebald at 573-9444, ext. 222.

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