Sisters Brandi Allen and Ashley Rollins created a way to help keep seniors happy and engaged amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Silver Swag Box is a monthly subscription designed for seniors that includes items to bring a smile to their faces and keep them connected during a time of separation.
Allen, who is from Ringgold, and Rollins, of Cumming, came up with the idea for a subscription box in June.
When the pandemic hit the country in March, Rollins and Allen could no longer visit their aunt Betty who lived in St. Louis. Rollins said their aunt had no other family that lived close by.
The sisters said they were close to their aunt and would take turns visiting her every three to four months. But when travel became limited, they shifted to sending Betty care packages in the mail.
“But then it kind of felt like we began sending [Aunt Betty] the same thing over and over, so we started to look for a subscription box [to send her],” Rollins said.
Rollins said how her nieces loved getting subscription boxes in the mail, so she and her sister set out to look for something they could send to their aunt. As they searched, it was hard to find what they were looking for.
“So we just thought, why don’t we [make a subscription box]?” Rollins said. “[My sister and I] both have corporate jobs, so this is kind of a project to fill a need that we have and to hopefully help others as well.”
Rollins and Allen began planning in June and sent the first boxes out in October. Since then, Rollins has said she and her sister have seen steady growth for the subscriptions.
“It’s exciting to see the organic growth, and it’s exciting whenever we’re sending boxes,” Rollins said. “Of course we love to help our family and friends, but it’s also exciting to see when we’re sending things to people that we’ve never heard of. We don’t know much about them or where they came from, but just knowing that we can have a positive impact for them and their families is really, really cool.”
Each month the sisters pick a different theme, drawing from current events, seasons and holidays. Each box also has items from particular categories that go along with each theme. The categories include something useful, something to inspire an activity, something for personal use, and of course, snacks.
“[Snacks are] probably the No. 1 favorite thing in each box,” Rollins said. “They love the snacks.”
Each box has between six to eight different items and can be altered based on mobility and dietary restrictions.
“It’s really important to us that when that box is opened, it’s full of things that our customers can enjoy,” Rollins said. “If someone can’t have sugar, that’s fine. We’ll give them something unique that they’re not going to find at Walmart and Target that will meet their dietary restrictions.”
They want all of the items to be uniquely tailored to subscribers and full of things not easily purchasable at a grocery store.
Each box also includes a Stay Connected card. The cards are designed to spark thoughtful conversation through interesting discussion starters that tie in with each month’s theme.
“I’ll call Aunt Betty, and I’ll ask her how the weather is, I’ll ask her how her doctor’s appointments went, but a lot of times our conversations don’t get any deeper than that,” Rollins said. “So, we’ve designed these questions, and they change every month and revolve around whatever that month’s theme is. We designed them to really help build relationships, and we’ll ask things that you wouldn’t normally think to ask like, “Did you go trick-or-treating as a kid?” or “What was your favorite Halloween costume?”
Rollins said many subscribers look forward to getting the Stay Connected cards, because it helps provide opportunities for deeper conversation and building relationships between loved ones. The cards also give families a fun excuse to learn interesting things about each other.
Silver Swag Box began as a gift idea, as Rollins stated most of the subscribers are purchased for a senior loved one, but they also have quite a lot of seniors signing up for the boxes on their own.
“That kind of took us by surprise, but it’s happy mail, you know?” Rollins said. “If it makes people happy, then we’re thrilled that they’re a part of it.”
Silver Swag Box ships all over the country, with 60 subscribers located in places like Pennsylvania, California, Florida and New York.
While the Silver Swag Box has reached customers nationally, the sisters and their family have a particular fondness for the city of Cumming.
Rollins and her family live in the city, along with her parents, brother and his family and her husband’s sister. Allen has plans to move back to Cumming when her youngest child graduates high school.
“It’s home,” Rollins said. “We love [Cumming], and we just never want to go anywhere else. It’s such a welcoming and supportive community. I think a lot of people found a good home here.”
Silver Swag Boxes are available for purchase at www.silverswagbox.com. Customers can select a one-time purchase or a monthly subscription that renews automatically. Pre-paid subscriptions can also be renewed automatically.
Because each box has a seasonal theme, the packages will be shipped the first week of every month so that loved ones can enjoy the gifts inside all month.
Both Allen and Rollins hope that their subscription boxes have helped and will continue to help other families share their love and develop deeper relationships during this time of separation.
“Whether you are part of our subscription boxes or not, take time to reach out to your loved ones, especially this older generation,” Rollins said. “Just take a minute, give them a call and let them know you’re thinking about them. It means so much.”
To get this month’s box, “How Tweet It Is,” please purchase before Sunday, Feb. 7.