How does it feel to receive a bundle of handwritten letters of love and encouragement from strangers? That’s what happens when The World Needs More Love Letters, an organization founded by Hannah Brencher, chooses a nominee. Every month several stories are posted on the More Love Letters website, and visitors are invited to write from their hearts with their best words and send letters in to the organization. At the end of the month, these letters of note are collected a forwarded to the recipient.
Reviving the Personal Letter
Hannah Brencher never got texts or emails from home in college. That’s because her mother did not use digital communication. Instead, she wrote Brencher letters and sent them via the post office. It was frustrating because news arrived slowly but gratifying because messages always came with a handwritten personal touch.
After college, Brencher struggled to keep her spirits up in the impersonal world of New York City. Accustomed as she was to letter-writing, she began to write love letters and leave them at spots around the city such as cafes and libraries. She took to the internet and begin blogging about her venture. She made an online promise that she would write to anyone who asked her for a letter.
It was an ambitious undertaking for a 22-year-old recent graduate, and soon the requests started pouring in. One came from a schoolgirl who was being bullied. Another was from a single mother in desperate need of some personal words of support and encouragement.
A Movement Gets Underway
Hannah Brencher’s initiative struck a chord, and others were emboldened to jump in. A college student in Iowa left letters around the campus, and soon she found other letters hanging from trees and tucked into shrubs. A military wife whose husband had just returned from Afghanistan had trouble engaging him in conversation, so she hand-wrote love letters and left them around the house.
It’s clear that, in this world of ephemeral text messages and 144-character tweets, there’s a longing for something more substantial, something a person can hold, reread, save and cherish. It also became clear to Brencher that keeping the letter-fest going was more than one person could handle.
That’s where The World Needs More Love Letters (familiarly known as MLL) comes in. By the time Brencher had written almost 400 letters, she was ready to expand and formalize the process, Over the past 10 years, the purpose of MLL and its staff of eight women has been to write letters to people who need them and make the world a generally better place. One particular recipient, a man who was considering suicide but found new life in a Love Letter Bundle, would certainly agree that they’re succeeding.
Handwritten Letters Are Letters of Note
Historical letters are significant, but these letters of note are important to real people in the real world today. Most people of Brencher’s generation have never seen words of love written to them on a piece of paper. They’ve never had a reason to check the post other than to collect the advertisements and throw them away.
Text messages are useful, and social media posts have their place. However, their sentiments cannot compare to the person who takes the time to sit down with pen and paper and spend a chunk of the day thoughtfully considering the individual on the other end of the message.