More than 800,000 families in America have lost a loved one to COVID-19. The holiday season can also be a difficult time for them.
An effort with Bay Area ties is helping to ease the pain and loneliness by one card at a time.
When Charles Krebbs of Arizona died of COVID-19 in August 2020, his daughter, Tara Krebbs asked people on social media to help lift her mother’s spirits during the holidays.
Krebbs said the cards and gifts from around the world made her mother smile.
“They all expressed care and love. That was something that had been so lacking at that time,” Krebbs added.
Krebbs helped launch a card exchange at "Marked By COVID," a national group of people impacted by the virus.
Now, hundreds of people are giving and getting cards.
Krebbs recently sent out 20 cards.
“When I say I understand. I do understand what they are going through. I hope I can be a beacon of hope when I tell them ‘It's going to get better. You're going to feel better,’” she said.
Kristin Urquiza is getting the cards in San Francisco. She started "Marked by COVID" after her father Mark died in 2020.
She told NBC Bay Area's Jean Elle Wednesday that she recently canceled her holiday plans with her mother due to the omicron variant, and added that the short messages from strangers have a big impact.
“It just warms my heart in this moment. It reminds me how much love and support and compassion there is out there," she said.
There are pictures of faces on the wall at Urquiza's home. They are all people who died of COVID-19. Their loved ones are facing a holiday and new year without them.
You can sign up to send cards by visiting markedbycovid.com.