Pens to Friends: Spreading Smiles One Letter at a Time

Monday, April 12

By Asmita Jalote

Over the past year, due to the pandemic, I haven't gotten to see my friends much. So every few months, I send snail mail to my friends - those who live both far and near - as a way to show them that I miss and care for them. I could always just text my friends, but writing a letter is not only more personal, but also allows you to be creative! When I came across the letter-writing organization "Pens to Friends" on Tiktok, I immediately filled out the form to volunteer. 

Originally a small project created by a group of teens in Arizona, "Pens to Friends" has grown into a large online community with ambitions to expand all over the globe. The idea is simple: people all around the world sign up to write a letter and/or create a piece of artwork for a child living in either a foster home or hospital. While there is no guarantee that the child will respond, the gesture is sure to bring a smile to their face. 

About a week after I registered to volunteer, I got an email response with all of the information I needed to begin. Their Instagram page also has tons of information on what kinds of topics to write about in your letter, what to include, as well as some great examples. 

I immediately got to writing and decided to make the theme of my letter more colorful than usual. Usually, I am a fan of brown and neutral colors, but since this project is for kids, I decided to switch it up a little. I doubt any kid would find fascination in a plain, brown, "aesthetic" letter. I have so many cute animal and princess stickers stored away in my drawers because they don't fit my style anymore. I could finally put my old stickers to use! I decorated the envelope and letter with little doodles and drawings, and wrote my note about my love for art and nature! As an extra gift, I included some stickers, as well as a watercolor painting of a cow wearing a cowboy hat! Finally, I asked the child about their interests and passions and wished them well for the future. I left my contact information on the note as well, and I'm hoping to get a response back! How cool would it be to make a new friend this way!? 

Here's a picture of part of my letter: (If you'd like to see the rest of the pics & keep up with my mail art and journaling projects, follow me on Instagram @mimi.bujos.)

As someone who was in and out of hospitals their entire childhood, the mission of "Pens to Friends" really appealed to me. As a kid, I often found myself thinking "Why is this happening to me?". One thing that really lifted my spirits in the hospital was kind nurses and volunteers. There was one nurse in particular who made sure that I always had activities on hand to distract myself. She encouraged volunteers to visit my room and gift me things like coloring books, nail polish, dolls, and games. She made life simple again. I wanted to be a part of that for someone else. I will definitely be writing more letters in the future. 

I encourage you all to check out "Pens to Friends" and participate if you can! If you're interested in writing a letter you can find more information here


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