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Seniors & Students Pen Pal Frequently Asked Questions

The Pen Pal Project provides a wonderful opportunity for students to make new friends, learn what life was like in the past and practice letter-writing skills. Here are some guidelines and frequently asked questions about the program.

How often are letters exchanged?
It is hoped that the senior citizen and student pen pal will exchange at least one letter each month during the school year. Some students will write more often. Letters should be addressed to the student at his or her school. Expect to receive your first letter sometime in November.

Hot tip: Are you planning an extended vacation? Send your pal a post card from your vacation destination.

What about exchanging gifts?
People have asked about exchanging of gifts. Your correspondence with the student is what is truly valued. The exchange of gifts is discouraged to avoid hurt feelings that may arise when some students receive gifts and others do not. Sending special cards, bookmarks, cartoons or inexpensive souvenirs is acceptable; however, items of monetary value are discouraged.

Should we write or type our letters?
While students learn cursive writing in third grade, some students have difficulty reading it until they are a little older. Some of the most elegant writing can pose a problem for younger students. Most pen pals exchange handwritten letters, but it is all right if you and your student pen pal would like to “type” your letters on a computer.

What level of student writing can I expect?
Exchanging letters with you provides students an opportunity to practice their writing skills. You may see occasional errors and misspellings, but know that with continued practice, students will gain proficiency and confidence in writing. Your patience and the real-world writing practice you offer students are appreciated.

Keep in mind: Student writing ability varies greatly. Some students may require more patience than others.

I am a snowbird. Can I still be a pen pal?
Some of our senior pen pals move to warmer climates during the winter. If you are one of them, please let Jeannette Choate know your second address and the dates you will be there. You may want to mention that to your student pen pal in a letter, too.

I am moving. Who needs to know?
Please contact Jeannette Choate to give her your new address.

Will I ever meet my pen pal?
Toward the end of the school year, you can expect to receive an invitation to a Pen Pal Party at your pen pal’s school. This is a fun event where you are able to meet your pen pal face to face and share refreshments. It is highly anticipated by the students who help host the event with their teachers. We hope you are able to attend. If the specific date of the party does not work with your schedule, you are welcome to make alternate arrangements to meet your pal. These arrangements can be made directly through the teacher/school or through Jeannette Choate.

Your participation in the Pen Pal Project is a generous gift of your time and talents. Thank you for your involvement.

If you have any further questions, please contact Jeannette Choate, Seniors and Students coordinator, at (262) 246-1973 or