9-year-old gets letter from the White House

Ron Burtz
Custer fourth grader Jersey Barrick got an unusual surprise in the mail recently: a large manilla envelope bearing the return address “The White House, Washington, D.C.” Inside was a personal letter to her signed by President Donald Trump.
Jersey wasn’t completely caught off guard by the presidential correspondence, however. In fact, she had been looking for a letter from Trump since she wrote him in March to comment on the coronavirus situation. 
“I wanted to tell the president that the world shouldn’t worry too much about this COVID,” said Jersey last week. “The world is strong enough to keep COVID from killing the world. It’s not the end of the world. The common cold is a type of coronavirus. He’s the one handling the country’s problems and he should know.”
Jersey said she was surprised and not just a little disappointed that school was let out in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic, saying she missed being in school with her friends and teacher. 
“My best friend was in my class that year and we’ve only been having Facetime since,” said Jersey. 
The 9-year-old appears to be taking the same attitude as many adults who say they are more concerned about the public’s reaction to the virus than about the disease itself. 
“It’s just getting a little out of hand,” said Jersey, “and I don’t like it that everyone thinks it’s going to be the end of the world and is going crazy.” 
She wrote and mailed the letter while staying with her grandparents in Rapid City and her grandma managed to snap a picture of the missive before dropping it in the mail. 
“Dear Donald Trump,” the handwritten letter began, “I need to confess about the corona virus. Everyone is hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and everyday things we need. They think it is the end of the world! But it is not. I need to spread my word that the virus isn’t going to end earth. A common cold is a type of corona virus and not everyone knows that. I need to spread word. Sincerely, Jersey.” 
Soon after the letter was mailed, Jersey began asking her mom, Sara, and dad, Shaun, almost daily whether she had received a reply. 
Sara’s usual response was to point out how busy the president is with other matters of state and note that responding to a little girl in Custer was “a little further down on the list of priorities for him.”
Therefore, she said she was really surprised when the letter from the White House showed up in the mailbox July 16. 
“I was super excited,” said Jersey, recalling the moment her mom handed her the envelope. “I just kind of wanted to rip the thing open, but it said, ‛first class: do not bend,’ so I tried to do it carefully.” 
The letter inside, printed on official White House stationery and dated July 10, began, “Dear Jersey, I appreciate your taking the time to write and share your suggestions. During these times, Mrs. Trump and I are inspired by young people like you who are paying close attention to the issues facing our Nation and trying to find solutions to our most critical challenges to help their fellow Americans. As your President, I want you to know I am listening and appreciate your engagement on these important matters. Please know that your health and well-being are my top priorities, and we are working each day to keep you, your family and your friends safe.”
The letter listed two websites where Jersey could learn more about the virus, including coronavirus.gov and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s coronavirus “How to help” page. 
The letter concluded: “In the coming weeks and months, I hope you will find ways to support individuals in your community who need assistance and help your community recover. Always remember you have family members, teachers and others who love you, who care about you and who are there to help you continue to learn and grow. Together, we will overcome any challenge we face. Thank you again for taking the time to write. Sincerely, (signed) Donald J. Trump”
Jersey wants to keep the letter in her bedroom, but Sara said that won’t happen until the letter is put into a proper frame for display and preservation. 
Meanwhile, Jersey is moving on with her summer, taking swimming lessons, planning to attend a camp and having a sleepover with her best friend, but she said writing more letters to the president is not out of the question.

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