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Fargo woman gathers volunteers to write letters to people in assisted living facilities

FARGO, ND (Valley News Live) – As people everywhere give thanks, those in assisted living facilities are giving this holiday a little extra thanks to the efforts of a Fargo woman.

Cassie Wehseler gives an old idea a young twist.

“That’s the joy I’ve found in 2020,” she said.

As the world ground to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting older people meant staying away from them.

“I saw relatives and friends visiting their grandparents in nursing homes,” Wehseler said. “But it was some distance away or through a window or just not very often like they would like due to COVID restrictions.”

So she took it upon herself to lift her spirits by writing 125 cards to seniors across the subway.

“I think these cards can do a lot of positive things,” she added.

It’s something she would later understand firsthand. Her grandfather ended up in a nursing home a year later.

“In 2020 I experienced what others have experienced,” said Wehseler. “That inspired me to have a goal of 300 cards.”

She couldn’t do it alone. With the help of volunteers, churches, classrooms, and corporations like Gate City Bank, they were able to exceed Wehseler’s goal.

“It doesn’t matter who you write to, but the fact that anyone can find happiness, joy and even appreciation in reading these letters really touched everyone,” said volunteer Amanda Torok of Gate City Bank.

Cassie knows that joy. She saw it in her grandpa when he received those letters. He died in July and she wanted to do more to honor him.

“I want to tell people to hug their grandparents a little tighter this Thanksgiving and be thankful for what they have,” Wehseler said.

That year, she delivered 1,600 cards and set up 230 activities for people at more than 32 assisted living facilities in North Dakota and Minnesota.

A gesture so powerful yet simple that even eight-year-olds seem to understand the impact behind these letters of joy.

“I said Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and asked them some questions and told them a little bit about me,” said third-grader volunteer Rya Diekmann. “I love giving people cards.”

Fargo/Moorhead Companies and Groups: Gate City Bank, Scheels, Firstlink, Bell Bank, Park Co. Realtors, Your Day By Nicole, Activate Physical Therapy and Wellness, Freedom Elementary (Mrs. Salentine), SGR Elementary School (Mrs. Gustafson), Prairie Heights Church, St .Joes Faith Formation Group and Moorhead STAY Group.

Sheyenne High School National Honor Society Group (Mrs. Peterson): Britny Diekmann, Amber Gemmill, LaRae Neyens, Jessica Persson, Hanna Swenseth, Kathleen Gallais, Jayne Gobernatz, Victoria Anderson, Cheryl Thorson, Jody Pike, Alice Boeckers, Sara Bakke, Miriam Danielson and Amy Lindquist.