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Houston-area high school student sends classmates’ letters of encouragement to elderly, immunocompromised

Student links up with CrowdSource Rescue nonprofit to help spread hope

HOUSTON – One Emery Weiner High School student is going above and beyond during her time off from school to help spread hope and comfort to those who may be struggling through social distancing and fear during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Each word Anna Paradise writes in her letters to the elderly and immunocompromised comes straight from the heart.

“It really is a message of hope and happiness,” the high school student leader said.

Paradise knew there was something she and her classmates could do to help inspire hope during the devastating pandemic.

“A lot of people don’t have that connection and can’t communicate with people right now,” she said.

Paradise is a problem-solver and it just so happens that this young leader is also the Community Service Club President the Emery Weiner School.

"I wanted to give this opportunity to students at my school to kind of have a sense of purpose," Paradise said.

She had the idea to ask her fellow students to write letters of encouragement to the elderly and immunocompromised who are not able to leave their homes during the pandemic due to a high risk of contracting coronavirus.

She searched for volunteer organizations that could help her share the letters and found CrowdSource Rescue.

KPRC 2 first reported about the non-profit organization during Hurricane Harvey. At the time, CrowdSource Rescue helped people who needed to be rescued access rescue boats.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the nonprofit utilized its tools to switch from natural disaster relief to coronavirus relief, connecting volunteers to the Houston Food Bank. CrowdSource Rescue volunteers head to the Houston Food Bank, pick up food and deliver it to the elderly and immunocompromised people in the Houston-area who sign up on CrowdSourceRescue.org.

Paradise offered to help the non-profit by collecting the letters from her classmates and getting them to the Houston Food Bank to be sent with CrowdSource Rescue volunteers delivering food.

“I was shocked to find out that she was still in high school. She could have fooled me,” said Matthew Marchetti, a co-founder of CrowdSource Rescue. “She is so incredibly organized and she has a plan!”

Marchetti put Paradise in charge of the letter effort.

"Every Friday, I leave to pick up letters from every single house," Paradise said.

She collects letters from the driveways of each of her participating classmates’ homes.

"Dear Neighbor...Please do not lose hope...Because you are strong you are brave and you are worthy. You can make it through this," Paradise's letter reads, in part.

“It lets you know that somebody’s there, and they care about you,” Houstonian Kimberly Proctor said.

Proctor’s medical conditions make her immunocompromised and she has not left her home since the pandemic broke out. Proctor received Paradise’s letter through a delivery by CrowdSource Rescue volunteer, David Batagower.

"We're going to keep going as long as we can," Batagower said.

Paradise said she hopes that people who are scared, lonely and sad know that they are not alone.

“This is such a time that can be so lonely and so stressful for them,” Paradise said. “You and your family are forever in our mind and our thoughts.”