Man in nursing home sends gifts to others with ‘Operation Valentine’


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – It’s easy to forget in the pandemic that traditional holidays are fast approaching, like Valentine’s Day this Sunday.

COVID-19 is keeping many people from their usual holiday celebrations and family gatherings, especially those in nursing homes. But a man in New York wants to show love to people like himself with “Operation Valentine.”

Thomas Phillips has felt the effects of isolation in the pandemic, “We don’t get to see anybody except who’s on our wing, and it’s always changing, and it’s really depressing and not the same.” 

He turned his loneliness into an idea for Valentine’s Day. He sent out cards to people living in assisted facilities just like him. Phillips’ “Operation Valentine” grew to include thousands of gifts sent around the country.

A Greenville nursing home got some of his surprises.

“Miraculously we were chosen just randomly from somebody looking on the internet and found our facility. Every resident has a valentine that they’re getting from ‘Operation Valentine’,” said Terry Edwards, the activity manager at MacGregor Downs Health and Rehabilitation Center. 

The pandemic may not be over, but people working and living in nursing homes hope things will get closer to normal soon. Phillips hopes he’s inspiring others to take time to reach out to people in nursing homes and brighten their Valentine’s Day in the pandemic. 

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