UPPER SADDLE RIVER — Teen twin sisters Serena and Simran Dhupar had been volunteering at a local senior center at the time COVID-19 shut everything down last year, and wanted to continue to give back to their community in some way that was still safe.

They eventually found the nonprofit Love For The Elderly, whose mission was to collect anonymous letters of love and support for senior citizens, and distribute them to residential and care facilities in countries around the world.

With so many in older populations isolated during that time, the sisters accumulated 600 letters from local schools and surrounding towns in just two weeks.

As it turns out, they were just getting started.

Serena and Simran did so well that the organization actually put them on staff, as it changed its name to the more inviting "Love For Our Elders."

"I think it's important that we appreciate them, and that we support them, especially if they go through hard times and if they need some help and some boosting, and just to uplift their spirits," Serena said.

In 2020, Love For Our Elders sent out more than 90,000 letters to 950 senior facilities in seven different countries, and to start this year, Serena and Simran helped the group surpass its goal of 10,000 letters by Feb. 26, which is recognized as Letter To An Elder Day.

Everyone's sights are set just a little higher for the remainder of 2021: a target of 100,000 letters by the end of the year.

The organization's growth, and the Dhupar sisters' role in it, has happened faster than any of them could have imagined.

"Collecting 600 letters was quite an achievement at the time, and it's grown so much," Simran said. "And we just can't believe that we could be able to collect 100,000 letters and that's something that we would be able to possibly do."

In fact, Serena and Simran said, it's conceivable that 200,000 letters in a year might be within reach.

For more, visit loveforourelders.org.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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