Residents and business owners of Chehalis are mostly familiar with Jimmy Armfield. Often found riding Twin Transit buses around town and chatting with locals, the 72-year-old has the energy of someone decades younger.
Recently, Jimmy became a bit of a celebrity after his longtime friend Susan Gonzales made a Facebook post asking her friends to send him mail. Susan came up with the idea after she found Jimmy sitting on the steps at the Chehalis Post Office. Postal employee Roben mentioned to Susan that Jimmy is there three times a day, hoping for mail.
“It broke my heart,” she says. “I saw his dedication.” On August 21, Susan created a Facebook post asking her friends around the United States to send Jimmy mail for his birthday. It quickly went viral, with over 9,000 shares to date.
People from all over the country and the world started sending Jimmy cards, letters and gifts – even from as far away as Australia. “People ask how I got this to work but really it’s the magic of Jimmy,” she says. “It’s really mindboggling that it went viral in like six hours and we don’t know why. It went like gangbusters.”
There’s so much mail now in Jimmy’s P.O. Box, Susan’s husband Gene meets him every day at the post office to help him get it all home. To Jimmy, it’s all his friends sending him the mail. He wants to thank them all somehow; a project Susan and Gene vow to help with too. They read the notes to him and show Jimmy the various news segments featuring him.
In fact, it’s a family affair for Susan, Gene and their daughter Alicia who set up a Facebook page for Jimmy so the people sending him mail can share in his joy. You can follow Jimmy’s story too on Facebook at MEET JIMMY.
“He’s so happy to open the mailbox to find something’s in there,” says Susan. “It’s been a real privilege for my family to get to know his adventurous spirit more. He’s a character.”
Susan feels the postal workers are the unsung heroes behind the scenes. “They have worked extra hard and totally enjoyed the whole experience,” she says. “They are always so grateful and we praise them for that. Shaun at the post office saw it going viral Saturday and was prepared on Monday morning with a plan to handle all the mail.”
She also credits the townspeople for always looking out for Jimmy. “He is so treasured by so many people in our community so to me it was a little happiness for the entire town of Chehalis,” says Susan. “Thank God for Chehalis! He is so safe to be independent here. Chehalis is a unique location for a person like Jimmy.”
As an active and social guy, the effects of the shutdown have been particularly hard for Jimmy. “There’s no bowling, karaoke or church,” says Susan. “That’s another reason I did this. Jimmy does a lot of stuff, so the pandemic hit him differently. There are some amazing ways to bless other people.”
Susan’s already thinking of a way to extend the blessings to others. “I am sure there will be more,” she says. “This is not the end.”
If you would like to write to Jimmy:
P.O. Box 493
Chehalis, WA 98532