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Good Riddance: The End Of 2020 Is Just Days Away

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Well, the new year is two days away, and it can't come fast enough for so many of us. 2020, in so many ways, was rough.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

So we asked listeners to share with us what got them through this year. Some of you reconnected with old friends. Several of you found a way to connect with strangers.

ERIN KUESTER: I've met a lot of new friends in 2020, people that I normally wouldn't meet even in a non-pandemic year.

GREENE: That is Erin Kuester (ph) from Tipton, Iowa. She liked to travel and often kept postcards to remember the places she had been.

KUESTER: I just looked at my postcard box this year and I was like, yeah, I think it would bring people more joy to exchange these than to have them just, like, sitting in my office.

MARTIN: Kuester joined a postcard exchange. She says postcard writing is an art, a short and sweet way to connect.

KUESTER: I think about all these people who used to, like, write letters as their primary form of communication once upon a time before the Internet. And I'm like, wow, they must have dedicated so much time to just sitting down and writing letters out to people.

GREENE: During the pandemic, she has sent out around 300 postcards to people in the U.K., Spain, Japan, China and also here in the States. That connection has created new friendships.

MARTIN: Sahil Swali from Albany, N.Y., also wanted to help people feel connected. He created Write to Appreciate. It's an online program that gets people to write letters or even draw pictures for seniors living in long-term care communities.

GREENE: Many of these elderly residents have been separated from loved ones during this pandemic.

SAHIL SWALI: So the idea popped in my head - how can we make them feel less lonely and less isolated?

GREENE: Sixty homes now receive letters from Swali's project.

SWALI: One of the residents had loved the letters so much that she had actually pulled them off of whatever bulletin board or how the facility was displaying them and she took them to her room and started putting them on her own wall.

MARTIN: Swali says he learned something about himself through his efforts.

SWALI: Even if you're quiet, shy and introverted, what you can do just with a little effort, with little courage and a willingness to take risks.

MARTIN: The voices of Sahil Swali and Erin Kuester describing how they made it through 2020.

(SOUNDBITE OF FATB AND ZENDR'S "LOST THOUGHTS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.