OPINION: Students can help fund the USPS with pen pals

College students have experienced an escalated amount of loneliness, stress, anxiety, and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the University of Michigan’s Department of Psychiatry. However, students spending time in isolation have a silver-lining — the opportunity to quench their thirst for connection while also contributing to the longevity of the United States Postal Service, which is struggling to deliver essential medication and bills due to lack of funding.

There is a massive pool of potential pen pals in the Atlanta area that would love to write to Kennesaw State students. In fact, students may have seen viral videos of the elderly looking for penpals on Instagram and TikTok.

Students living on campus experience isolation, as KSU’s COVID Guidelines state that “Inviting non-essential visitors to campus is discouraged or should be avoided.” Students who live on-campus can forget inviting friends over to show off dorm room decorations, or treating a partner from another school to lunch at the Commons.

Unfortunately, many elderly members of the Kennesaw community live with similar loneliness. “Many local nursing homes no longer allow visitors, and elderly residents are in need of emotional connection, just like many students,” WSB reporter Mike Petchenik writes.

Instead of participating in risky social gatherings, students should compromise with other ways to socialize safely. The most wholesome and impactful way to socialize during a global pandemic is to get a pen pal with an elderly neighbor.

“I genuinely would [get a pen pal],” senior communication major Sarah Miller said. “I feel as though mental health is really important and isn’t prioritized sometimes, and I believe getting a penpal would really help a lot.”

KSU students should consider becoming a pen pal with Atlanta nursing home residents in order to foster their mental health and contribute towards funding the USPS

Students can find penpals by emailing local nursing homes or participating in online forums, according to the Atlanta Patch. Care facilities in Dunwoody and many Metro Atlanta locations also launched Facebook campaigns for residents to find pen pals, Atlanta Fox 5 reports.

The benefits of maintaining a relationship with a penpal are tenfold. Writing letters to a penpal eases anxiety, loneliness and even relieves stress, according to Forbes. Additionally, finding a penpal allows students to participate in funding the USPS by purchasing stamps. Unfortunately, USPS is experiencing severe financial strain, according to NPR.

The USPS predicts “a $13 billion shortfall for the year … As a result, the Postal Service is asking lawmakers for as much as $89 billion in cash infusions to weather the financial storm,” according to NPR. The USPS “could run out of money by 2021”, The New York Times claims.

This means that the USPS will rely on funding from the sale of stamps, merchandise and other products, according to CNN.

Fortunately, students can send letters to their penpals with stamps that cost as low as 55 cents each, which they can order online from the USPS website. Students could even send their new penpals a care package, as “Skyrocketing package volume, up 60 to 80 percent … has propped up the Postal Service’s finances and staved off immediate financial calamity”, according to the Washington Post.

If students began a relationship with a penpal, they would simultaneously help their own mental health and contribute towards saving the foundational presence of the USPS. Writing letters — and physically holding handwritten letters — can help reduce a student’s sense of isolation. KSU students must hold onto what they can during this pandemic — there is no reason why those in isolation cannot hold onto each other with handwritten letters until 2020 finally ends.606 words

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