A Letter for Better pen pals deliver smiles across the country


A6_BetterLetterImagine being in the midst of a terrible day when you check your mailbox to find a letter of encouragement from a complete stranger.

 A Letter for Better makes this possible for strangers all over the country.

"A Letter for Better is an organization where we send letters to random strangers across the United States to spread positivity and happiness," said Farwell sophomore and the Registered Student Organization's President Travis White.

During Travis’ freshman year, he received a card in the mail from his high school band, inspiring him to return this favor to strangers.

"It actually started when my band back home sent me a card in the mail," he said. "The feeling that gave me was like no other, so I wanted to pass that feeling on to others. "It's a lot better to receive a hand-written letter in the mail rather than a bill telling you how much debt you're in."

A Letter for Better group members get their letter destinations from the Internet.

“Our organization is actually based on sending letters to complete strangers – we get our addresses at random off of whitepages.com and address the envelopes to 'current resident' without knowing who's on the receiving end,” said co-President and Rochester sophomore Karen Nixon.

A Letter for Better has been very successful thus far, having sent more than 200 hand-written letters.

With the growth of today's technology and easy access to social networking, writing a letter by hand has lost its popularity.

"The satisfaction of sending a letter is extremely powerful. A text or email is so easy to send, but a hand written letter has lost its value in such a high-tech, busy society,” Nixon said.

For now, A Letter for Better is contained within Central Michigan University. But since its inception, several colleges have approached White and Nixon about starting the organization at their university.

“We are establishing a stronger member base with every meeting, so in the future we might expand to other schools,” Nixon said.

Nixon's inspiration for this group came during an alternative spring break, where she spent her time at Bay Pines Veterans Hospital in Bay Pines, Fla.

“The veteran's stories and their passion for life was the most inspirational experience I have ever had," she said. "I felt that these heroes deserved to smile.”

Karen’s experience inspired A Letter for Better week, which will take place Oct. 28–Nov. 1.

During this week, A Letter for Better will teamed up with the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center and Bay Pines Veteran Hospital to send a shipment of 400 hand-written letters to these veterans on Nov. 11, Veterans Day.

“The letters include inspiration, gratitude and appreciation for their service to our country and their courage and dedication to protecting us,” Nixon said.

All members of the community are encouraged to participate in A Letter for Better week.

“A Letter for Better week will be stationed at the volunteer center and will include templates for people to write letters and drop them off,” Nixon said.

The goal of this RSO is to positively change the lives of people everywhere.

"I just hope that a Letter for Better positively changes the lives of people that we write to," White said. "The organization is growing faster than I imagined, and I wouldn't want it any other way"

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