Sending "Sweet" Mail
By Julia, age 14, New York
Truth is, this all started about nine months ago. My mom received a family movie from my aunt for Christmas, titled Letters to God. The film, inspired by a true story, recounts the life of eight-year-old Tyler Doherty through his struggle with cancer. To cope with this pain, he writes letters addressed to God that find their way into the hands of the local mailman. The letters are so moving that they ultimately lead the confused man to Christianity. In the end, the boy dies with peace of mind, a strong faith, and new friends.
The film itself is, as my mother would put it, "a tear jerker." It contains all the emotion-exposing elements you could ask for from a film. But something about it left me wondering long after the ending scores. I felt something in that story that I hadn't for characters in any cinema I'd ever encountered. Tyler could have easily been me. I could have been strapped to gawking machinery and left bald from treatments. It made me immeasurably thankful for my good health.
Newfound thankfulness was not enough though; I had to act. One thing chronically ill children need is compassion. Luckily I am not the only one who feels this way. In just a few Google searches I was able to locate some low cost ways to brighten the days of ill children all across the nation. Letters and card-making is the practice I have chosen.
My mom has always had a passion for scrapbooking, which grants my sisters and I access to the latest stamps, ink, paper, and ribbon any crafter could desire. She spent many years attempting to pass the tradition down to us, leaving me with an unused scrapbook kit filled with materials to begin. My first cards were not very visually appealing. All I can hope is that those cards put smiles on the children's faces that I wrote to.
Today my cards are continuing to evolve. I have established a source - Hugs and Hope I find the names and information of the children I write to. Hugs and Hope is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of ill children through the distribution of "happy mail" - not "get well" mail or "feel better" letters, but honest, heartfelt, hand written messages to today's most struggling youth. I have yet to receive any responses, but I know in my heart that they must be making a difference. They have on me.
Interested in joining the cause? You don't have to be artist or writer to make an impact. Retrieving a colorful piece of paper and pen is simple. Mother Teresa once said, "Kind words can be short and easy to say, but their echoes are truly endless." Think of what you would like to hear if you were one of the struggling ill, and show sincerity. Your efforts will flourish more than self-fulfillment.