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Anonymous Letter Writing Spreads Holiday Cheer

Photo courtesy of Hannah Brechner // More Love Letters

In the beginning days of 2010, a young author and inspiration-spreader Hannah Brechner sat behind her smartphone screen on the notoriously-outdated 4 train in New York City. With her rapidly expanding Facebook followers on the other side, she contemplated what to send in her reliable, positive cyber following that day. As her phone service wavered while snaking through the underground matrix of the NYC subway system, a simple question was muttered from the soothing clicks of her electronic keyboard: “do you need someone to write you a love letter today?”

Hannah, a 20-something and recent college graduate, had just identified one of the most ironic chasms in modern history: in an increasingly interconnected world, people are feeling more and more alone. 

At the time, Brechner was struggling with her own life challenges with depression, only  exacerbated by the challenges of youth and hectic bubble of New York City. She thought she was alone, but it turns out she was far from it. 

Shortly after posting, her account was inundated with responses from other struggling Americans from all walks of life who longed to be brightened by the selfless, caring act of a stranger. 

Out of kindness, a website-based movement was born: More Love Letters. The now decade-old community of kindness creates a space for strangers to send and receive handwritten letters from other Americans. More Love Letters has a cumulative online following of almost 100k people between Facebook and Instagram. The community has sent over 250,000 letters across the country since its founding and likely impacting the lives of so many more. 

This holiday season, burdens cloud the lives of Americans during a time usually filled with sparkling lights, crisp balsam scents, and joy-filled relaxation beside a crackling fireplace. As such, More Love Letters has launched a special campaign: 12 Days of Love Letter Writing. Taking a heartfelt spin on the highly commercialized 12 Days of Christmas, the project allows interested letter writers to sign up and receive a new address in their email inbox each morning to write to. On the other side of that letter, there is a person in need of some extra tenderness this holiday season.

Recipients who sign up on the site’s mailing list don’t know who the letter comes from, differentiating More Love Letters’ philosophy of the long-gone pen pal practice. Brechner believes the selfless anonymity of strangers’ letters are what makes them more meaningful. The writers, who are explicitly instructed not to include personal information, have no agenda besides spreading joy to someone who needs it. Twelve writers each write one letter, and Brechner’s organization compiles them into a “bundle” for the recipient. 

While the obvious benefactor may be the letter recipient, Brechner says the writers benefit as well. For the writer, says Brechner, “It’s about finding those words you need to hear yourself and passing them on.” 

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