We live in a time when even some wedding invites are sent online, so it may seem funny to pay to slowly mail a message, when it could be sent both faster and for free via email. It’s definitely not the fastest or easiest method of communication, but there’s something very intimate and thoughtful about sending a real, hold-it-in-your-hands card or letter.
And isn’t it fun to get something other than bills and junk mail?
While anyone may enjoy the now-novelty of getting real mail, it can be an encouragement especially for older adults, who may experience feelings of loneliness.
You can send mail to grandparents or other family members, people in your neighborhood or church, and older people in assisted living facilities and hospitals.
There are also programs like Letters of Love, by Love for the Elderly, which collects letters written by volunteers and distributes them to older people in nursing facilities and group homes. The program encourages (but doesn’t require) writers to decorate or personalize the letters, so there’s plenty of room for creative expression, from simple doodles around a page to a fully designed card.
(Your kids may also think it’s inspiring to learn that this organization is run by a high school student, who started it when he was 14 years old).
When I first thought about writing letters to people I didn’t know, I was a little nervous because it felt strange. What do I say? What will they think?
If you’re feeling nervous or drawing a blank on what to write, here are the basics of a simple note:
Start with “Hi” – if you don’t know the person’s name, a simple “Hello” or “Dear friend” works well.
Introduce yourself with your first name, school grade or age (for kids), and some facts about yourself (for example, your favorite color, animal, movies, books, or activities).
Share some things you’re looking forward to, like vacation plans, upcoming activities or events, and for kids, what they want to be when they grow up.
Sign off kindly with a favorite quote and a friendly goodbye.
*Note: If you’re going to write through an organization or program, be sure to check the guidelines, not only for the mailing address, but also to make sure they can accept whatever you’re sending. They will tell you what is and isn’t acceptable to include in your letter.
You can also take it a step further and ask your church or the volunteer coordinator at the assisted living facility about offering to help people write letters of their own to the people they love. Having help with this task may be appreciated, especially for people with arthritis and other conditions that make it challenging to write.
Have you done this activity? How did it go? What did you write?
Shelly Najjar is a bucket list and travel blogger at The Goal List. She celebrates fun moments big and small, and encourages a responsible, ethical, and balanced approach to bucket list adventures.