I have always believed in the importance of two things: acts of kindness, and the written word. I value kindness in all its forms; there’s something so priceless contained in a caring word, a thoughtful gesture, a moment of going out of your way–even just a little–to make someone else feel seen or appreciated. And as for the written word, well. Haven’t you ever read a book that spoke directly to your heart, or a poem that seemed to be made of the same stuff as your soul? Or received a letter, or an email, or a comment on social media, and found that it brightened your whole day? The power of words, once you’ve experienced it, can’t be disputed.
The World Needs More Love Letters is one of my favorite nonprofit organizations because it takes these two things–kindness, and the written word–and combines them in a simple, beautiful, and impactful way. It began with Hannah Brencher, a recent college graduate living in the Bronx. She was struggling with depression and with the feeling that she was powerless to make a difference in the world, and one day on the train home from work, she wrote a letter to a stranger. (source) Although she didn’t know it at the time, that was the beginning of what would become a larger personal project, and later a whole movement and nonprofit organization.
The concept behind The World Needs More Love Letters is simple, and it’s exactly what the name spells out for us: it’s the idea that letters, and especially handwritten ones, are just what this world needs more of. The term “love letters,” in this case, doesn’t mean love letters in the vein of an e. e. cummings poem or of the missives of great writers and artists to their beloveds. “Love letters” are simply written expressions of loving kindness toward any soul who needs them, especially those you don’t know personally, and TWNMLL exists to spread more of them around the world.
As a grassroots organization, TWNMLL fulfills its mission in two ways. The first is by encouraging individuals to write letters or notes of encouragement, of comfort, and of optimism, then leave them in public places (often with the inscription, “If you find this letter, it’s for you”). The second, meanwhile, is through their love letter bundles. If you know someone who’s going through a difficult time, or deserves a moment of appreciation, or just needs a pick-me-up or a reminder that the world is a good and kind place, you can nominate them for a love letter bundle. Several of these nominees are selected regularly and their stories shared through TWNMLL’s website and newsletter so that people can write a letter directly to those in need of a considerate word. The letters are then collected by a family member or friend and hand-delivered to the recipient in a big, beautiful bundle of compassion.
Most of us, myself included, find it easy to fall into the trap of believing that this world is so broken and its needs so vast that we’re incapable of doing anything that can truly improve it. But this is one of the biggest lies we can fool ourselves into believing, and TWNMLL is exactly the kind of organization that can prove us wrong. It’s an organization that reminds us it takes just a pen, a piece of paper, and a little time and care to do something that can mean the whole world to a hurting soul. And it’s only by healing on a smaller scale—on an individual, person-to-person level—that we can even begin to take steps to heal on a community, national, or global scale.
So grab a pen and your favorite stationery, friends, and let’s start mending some hearts!
To find out more about this wonderful organization, visit their website. There, you can check out their FAQ and About Us page; or, if you’re already on board with the idea, you can sign up for their newsletter to get letter requests delivered directly to their inbox. If you’re a high school or college student, you can find out more about starting a Campus Cursive chapter to spread the movement at your school, or nominate someone you love for a bundle. And if you’re not the letter-writing type, you can always make a monetary donation instead.