LEXINGTON, N.C. -- A group of third-graders at Reed Elementary are all smiles when telling FOX8 about their new friends. Friends they didn't meet in class, but on paper, through their letters -- old-fashioned, actually handwritten letters.
"I got so excited when I got my letter," said student Deanna Loftis. "When I finally met them, I was just so shocked and stunned that they looked so different than what I thought."
The students' good buds are many decades older than them. They're pen pals from the Davidson County Senior Services Center. The Senior Center's Christie Smith created the program three years ago after reading about it in another area.
"You learn about them and they want to learn about you," laughed senior Peggy Sexton, who refuses to give out her age. "Two cents older than dirt, that's all I'm saying."
This is Sexton's third year being involved with the pen pal program and this year is paired with a second-grader named Samuel.
"He's very witty, too. He told me that he had a dog, but his mama let it die and he had a fish and a frog and the mama let them die, too," Sexton said. "I think we're just a good friend to them and they are to us, too. I love it."
Even though the older friends have lived decades longer than their younger friends, they don't dole out advice or tell the kids what to do or not to do.
"Not at all, that's what their parents are for and I don't want to intervene. I just want to be their friend," said senior Shirley Young. "At our age, we're retired and don't do a whole lot. This is like a highlight in our lives."
The pen pals write to each other once a month for an entire school year. They meet each other in person at a Christmas party and at a party at the end of the school year.