Loveland Goes Forward With Valentine Re-Mailing Program, Modified For Pandemic Times
Around this time of year, Loveland really earns its nickname as the "Sweetheart City" thanks to its valentine re-mailing program.
Letters from around the world begin pouring into the Loveland post office as early as December. The cards are stamped with a special verse — called a cachet — and a postmark before being sent on to its final destination in a loved ones' mailbox.
In past years, Valentine headquarters would be a busy scene, featuring dozens of volunteers sitting elbow to elbow in a conference room hand stamping each envelope. But this year — on its 75th anniversary — the program has had to make some changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly as most of its volunteers are senior citizens and highly at risk for COVID.
Officials seriously considered canceling the program this year, said Loveland Chamber of Commerce President Mindy McCloughan, who coordinates the program. But there was concern that even if they did, it wouldn’t matter.
“Even if we did cancel this program, people would continue to send their mail to the post office to get it postmarked just because they’ve done it for years,” McCloughan said.
But what really cemented the decision to move forward was the volunteers — many of whom have been doing this for decades, she said. Many of these folks told McCloughan that they still wanted to do it — even if this year looked a little different.
“I think it speaks volumes that our volunteers still want to participate and be a part of this,” she said. “They truly do pour out everything they have in this community — being the Sweetheart City — that we want to share love around the world and what better way to do it. You know? The cachet actually reads: 'Let’s unite our hearts this Valentine’s Day. Our Sweetheart City will lead the way!'”
So, like so many things that have been redesigned since the pandemic began, the chamber set up smaller groups of no more than 10 volunteers to a room. They’ve also added second shifts to make up for the lost manpower. And of course, masks and social distancing will also be required.
It’s a relief for volunteer Joyce Boston, 86, who’s been with the program since 1997.
Boston said the volunteers are like a family and that getting together each year is an important tradition for them as well as those who send in cards.
“It’s my therapy,” she said. “It’s kept me going. My husband’s been gone now 12 years and if it hadn’t been for that, I don’t know what I’d do. Cause living alone you can let yourself get real depressed if you want to and I just refuse to do that.”
In a typical year, Boston also volunteers at the local hospital, but she says the re-mailing program is special to her, maybe because of the holiday itself.
“Valentine’s Day has always been very special to me. I still have the first valentine my husband gave me in 1953,” she said. “And it’s getting pretty beat up because it’s been to four different states and we moved 18 times in our married life — so it’s kind of got beat up but it’s my favorite thing and he always made Valentine’s Day special. He always bought me a fancy box of chocolates no matter — some years were very lean years for us but he always managed to find that box of chocolates for me.”
Boston said she never really hesitated about going forward with the program this year, and that she thinks the precautions they’re taking will keep them safe. She also recently got her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. She’ll get her vaccination just in time to start the 10-day stamping season, which begins Feb. 1.