Why do we keep memory boxes of photos, movie tickets, and other little things that mean something to us?
Simple: In a world where we store almost everything in the cloud, having something tangible to hold on to gives us reassurance and a sense of gratitude that we may not always realize—or admit—we need.
Hannah Brencher understood this concept all too well. Her moving story began in New York City, and although it began in such a simple way, thousands of lives have since been changed because of it.
“I moved there my first year after college to work for a human rights organization. Maybe it was naive to think I would show up in such a big city and instantly find my way. Shortly after the move, I began grappling with feelings of loneliness and sadness. Those feelings gradually morphed into something bigger–something largely unspoken about at the time–depression.
Unable to figure out how to exit my own sadness, I began leaving letters around New York City. They were for unsuspecting visitors and commuters to find. I'd grown up with a mother who consistently left me love letters to find tucked in boxes and bags. It made sense to me to write these same letters to strangers. I'd write on the front of the letters, 'If you find this letter, it's for you.'
These letters scattered around New York City prompted me to write a blog post. I offered a simple promise to the Internet: if you need a love letter, just ask.
Nearly 400 handwritten letters to strangers later, the idea for More Love Letters was born."
We built a website. We started delivering love letter bundles around the world. And the real magic began.”
Since 2011, More Love Letters has impacted people in 50 states, 73 countries, 100+ campuses. It has also delivered 125,000–and counting–love letters to those who need them most.
If you’re interested in learning about this organization, starting a campus chapter, or leaving letters behind, you can do so here.
And okay, it’s one thing to read about things like this and be amazed by how much good there is in the world. But it’s another thing completely to hear about it from the woman who made it all possible.
Below, you can see the video that started Hannah’s incredible journey.
“Overnight, my inbox morphed into this harbor of heartbreak: a single mother in Sacramento, a girl being bullied in rural Kansas, all asking me, a 22-year-old girl who barely even knew her own coffee order, to write them a love letter and give them a reason to wait by the mailbox.
But, you know, the thing that always gets me about these letters is that most of them have been written by people that have never known themselves loved on a piece of paper.
They could not tell you about the ink of their own love letters.
They're the ones from my generation. The ones of us that have grown up into a world where everything is paperless.
Where some of our best conversations have happened upon a screen.
We have learned to diary our pain onto Facebook, and we speak swiftly in 140 characters or less.
And so I could tell you about a woman whose husband has just come home from Afghanistan, and she is having a hard time unearthing this thing called conversation. So she tucks love letters throughout the house as a way to say, ‘Come back to me. Find me when you can.’"
"The mere fact that somebody would even just sit down, pull out a piece of paper and think about someone the whole way through, with an intention that is so much harder to unearth when the browser is up and the iPhone is pinging and we've got six conversations rolling in at once.
That is an art form that does not fall down to the Goliath of 'get faster'.
No matter how many social networks we might join.
We still clutch close these letters to our chest, to the words that speak louder than loud, when we turn pages into palettes to say the things that we have needed to say.
The words that we have needed to write, to sisters and brothers and even to strangers, for far too long."
Needless to say, Hannah Brencher's story is unlike any other. At one of the lowest points in her life, she chose to find a way not just for herself to become grateful for the life she lives, but also for others to be able to do the same.
So just like her, I’m going to let words take charge and leave you with this quote from an unknown author: “Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind.”