Like everyone else when the COVID-19 pandemic began, I was overwhelmed with a deep need to do something to help. I heard heartbreaking stories of elderly men and women confined to isolation in their homes, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. Sure, I missed seeing my friends, too. But these sweet souls didn’t have the same opportunity that I had to pick up a smart phone or computer to virtually connect with others. My heart hurt to think that they were alone, often feeling forgotten. I knew I needed to reach out.
The Project: Happy Mail
A quick survey of my Facebook friends provided a list of their elderly relatives that would enjoy receiving a little word of encouragement. It took no time at all to write out a few cards and send them on their way. But when two friends contacted me with names of nursing homes requesting mail, I knew I needed to recruit help. I searched far and wide (ok, I just went upstairs) until I found the best card-making, smile-bringing, coloring queen I could fine – my 11 year old daughter, Maddie. Together, I knew we could make a difference.
My initial idea was to color pages out of my adult coloring books for the seniors in these two facilities, but by the time I finished the second picture, I realized that I might be in a nursing home before I finished making enough for everyone. So, Maddie and I took inventory of my craft closet and found a stack of pretty paper scraps the same size as a bookmark. We trimmed the pretty scrapbook paper down, glued the strips to cardstock for added stability, punched a hole in the top, and threaded them with these cute tassels I ordered online. Maddie decorated them with stickers, drawings, and encouraging words.
We were able to mail off two big packets full of cards and bookmarks for the nursing homes. We even made some for our own friends and family.
After all, everyone loves to receive something fun in the mail! Within a few days, we started receiving texts from friends who were surprised to find a sweet treat waiting in their mail boxes. We even got a shout out on Facebook from one of the nursing homes, showing the smiling residents who received our little tokens of love.
Happy Mail is anything you send or receive in the mail that makes you smile. Aside from bills and advertisements, most of us don’t get a lot of fun “snail mail” anymore. The whole idea behind Happy Mail is sending something fun… just because! Cards, letters, photos, drawings, and tiny gifts are perfect little treats to put a smile on someone’s face. Here’s a great list of 30 fun ideas for Happy Mail that you can start sending out right away.
I love to be creative but I’m not a super crafty person. Fortunately, I’ve found endless tools and ideas for creating Happy Mail that are fun and inexpensive. I’ve accumulated stickers, made bookmarks, chalked cards, written letters, and even purchased a wax seal set for making my envelopes look fun, too! The possibilities are endless and so is the list of people who would love to receive Happy Mail.
Thanks to the recent quarantine, our kids have been home for a few months already and we still have the entire summer to get through. Most of us have been running low on fresh ideas to keep our kids busy. Enter the Happy Mail Challenge!
Start a list of people you want to send Happy Mail to. Start with friends and family but then let the kids get creative. Send love to a nursing home or hospital. Say thank you to the people in your life that are often taken for granted such as your mail carrier, your trash collector, or the clerk at your neighborhood supermarket. Reach out to friends you haven’t seen in years. Ding-dong-ditch some Happy Mail to your neighbors.
Then decide how many pieces of mail you want to send out each week and work your way down through your list. Or pick a different theme each week!
Maybe one week you send pictures to friends and family; one week you send homemade cards to a nursing home; the next week you write letters to friends from church or school. Whatever you decide, enjoy this activity as a family. You’re teaching your kids some valuable lessons about being kind to others while also giving them the opportunity to be creative. Plus, Happy Mail can keep your kids engaged for hours.