Monday, June 26, 2017

Letters to Soldiers -- Past and Present

From the Amarillo Globe-News
This past weekend, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas, hosted a letter writing event in conjunction with its exhibit “The Great War and the Panhandle-Plains Region.”

The story caught my attention because of the letter writing aspect but also because I visited that museum a time or two as a kid. We lived about an hour away.

According to Lisa Lamb’s article on the Amarillo Globe-News’ website, there were two parts to the Saturday event. Area residents brought their World War I memorabilia to be considered for inclusion in the museum’s collection, and a program on Letters From Home highlighted the importance of letter writing during World War I. Additionally, visitors had the opportunity to write a letter to today’s U.S. military members through the Operation Gratitude project.

After reading that story, I tracked down Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit organization in California. The group’s online media kit says that they send care packages and letters of support to individual soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines deployed in harm’s way, to their children left behind, and to first responders, veterans, new recruits, military families, wounded heroes and their caregivers. Starting in 2003, they have sent 1,784,080 care packages so far.

Those care packages include a variety of items, including letters. According to the Operation Gratitude website, they have sent 5 million hand-written letters. That’s a lot of letters!

You can read more about Operation Gratitude and how you can become involved on the organization’s website.

It sounds like a good project that letter writers will enjoy!

Friday, June 23, 2017

A column about letters and a letter about the column

Last week, Lana Sweeten-Shults, a writer and editor for the Wichita Falls Times Record News, wrote a column about letter writing, and my friend Laura alerted me, knowing how interested I would be.

The column focused on her kids and how she came to realize that they didn't know how to write letters -- or postcards -- and her mission to remedy that situation.

She steps back in time to when she was a young girl, writing to her penpal, sending off for photos of celebrities and writing to her sister who was in the Army. You can read the column on the Times Record News' website at

Sweeten-Shults' column inspired a letter to the editor by a reader who reminisced about letter writing and other topics. In his letter, Joseph E. Whalen, Jr. of Wichita Falls suggests that people who protest things might see better results if they wrote letters instead.

As we head into this weekend, let's take Lana and Joseph's advice and write some letters. Write about whatever strikes your fancy. Write to complain; write to say "wish you were here"; write to say "I miss you."

Happy letterwriting!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Letter Writing Project Benefits Students and Chicago Organization

To me, one of the fun and wondrous things about life -- and the internet -- is how one thing leads to another and another and before long you have learned something new and fascinating.

I started out researching a story about letter writing. I came across an article on the Chicago Reader website about two Chicago school classes that wrote letters to each other. The story not only detailed how the students got to know their letter-writing partners, but it also explained that the project culminated in the publishing of a book featuring some of their letters.

As I looked up more information about the book, I discovered 826CHI, a nonprofit organization that provides free writing and tutoring programs for Chicago students. Not only does the organization have workshops, field trips and in-school projects, it also has a publishing department that prints and binds students' works into books that are sold at The Secret Agent Supply Co., a shop in Chicago that benefits 826CHI.

The letter-related book is titled "P.S. You Sound Like Someone I Can Trust," a line taken directly from one student's letter. You can order the book online at The Secret Agent Supply Co.  

You can read more about 826CHI and all of their programs, including a gallery of student writing, at the organization's website.

And, you can read the entire article about the letter writing project on the Chicago Reader.

According to the article, each year 826CHI has a unique project, so this letter writing program was a one-time event. But, that's not to stop anyone else from creating a similar program between two school classes. Such a project could teach handwriting, business skills, writing/English skills, as well as the basics of how to write and mail a letter, and much more, I'm sure. It could be done with or without the book. But, if a group wanted to publish a book of their letters, a quick print or print-on-demand service could handle it inexpensively.

I certainly hope the idea spreads and more and more young people learn the joys of letter writing!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

My kind of soft drink!

My husband found this Dr Pepper bottle featuring postage stamps. It appears to be a part of the "Pick Your Pepper" promotion the soft drink company first launched last year to celebrate self-expression.

According to a news release last summer, the hundreds of unique designs were inspired by "various millennial passion point categories." That must mean that stamps -- and maybe letter writing, snail mail, analog communications, etc. -- are still relevant and interesting!

Other designs include unicorns, fireworks, cassette tapes and many more. Have you seen one yet?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Outgoing mail

I got up bright and early this morning and wrote four postcards to members. Are you a member of Postcrossing? It's a great way to connect with people all over the world! Check it out if you love sending and receiving postcards. Some Postcrosing participants are interested in "direct swaps" and/or regular letter writing, but not all are.

I'm also sending out a letter to a friend today. I love using vintage (never used, of course) stamps!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Monday morning roundup of articles about letter writing

From the Irish News
Here's a Monday morning roundup of recent stories in the news about letter writing. Enjoy!

Penpals meet in Boulder, Colorado, for the first time after corresponding for 60 years. Read the story in the Boulder Daily Camera.

A letter collector writes about the joys of letters. Read the story in the Irish News.

Some celebrity penpals are strange pairings. Read more in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Three writers pen the letters they never wrote but wish they had. From the Belfast Telegraph.

Friday, June 9, 2017

To write or not to write about politics

There seems to be quite a bit of political turbulence world-wide nowadays, and I'm curious if people who have international penpals discuss politics in their correspondence.

I would have to say that I usually don't write about politics in my letters, mostly because I'm not very confrontational, and I don't want to offend anyone. But, I'm happy to answer questions from my penpals, even offer up my opinion, if I'm asked for it.

I think that the longer a correspondence continues, the more likely penpals are to write about such matters. Once they get to know each other better, through their letters, they are more comfortable being open and honest about things like that.

How about you? Do you write about politics or any other controversial topic in your letters?
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