I think back to when I first met Hannah Brencher and discovered The World Needs More Love Letters, and sometimes I think that was the beginning of my writing career. That was the beginning of my foray into blogging. If my life was a romantic comedy movie starring Meg Ryan, that was my moment when I had the courage to let the words that swirled around in my heart and head onto the page and the screen.
The World Needs More Love Letters is an international organization that spreads love across the globe through good ol' fashioned snail mail. In a time when we have become glued to our screens and are more comfortable texting than talking, The World Needs More Love Letters infuses humanity and heart back into the lives of countless people.
It's about love - but not mushy, gushy, sappy love. It's about the type of love that comes when you show up for people you know, and those you've yet to me.
With all that's wrong with the internet, The World Needs More Love Letters is everything that's right.
I love The World Needs More Love Letters (MLL).
And, I also happen to be a Christmas elf. I love Christmastime - the giving, the loving, the showing up for those who need it. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love white twinkle lights and hot chocolate and the smell of pine trees, too. But when we show up for one another, that's the greatest gift of all.
And so, each and every year I join The World More Love Letters in their largest campaign - The 12 Days of Love Letter Writing.
You too can join this campaign and write to one of the requests, to a couple of them, or, if you're feeling particularly inspired - all of them! (Just make sure everything is postmarked by December 20th, 2017. More info about the campaign can be found here.)
This year, I'm writing a letter to the students of The REAL School.
The behavioral specialist at The REAL School made the follow Love Letters Request for the students:
“REAL school serves middle school students who require structured therapeutic school-based supports and are at-risk in the areas of academic achievement as well as emotional and behavioral development. Most are dealing with challenges at home and in the community–trauma, abuse, violence–as well as mental health disorders. They and their families oftentimes lack access to effective resources and lack exposure to people outside of their communities, city, and the world around them. Research shows that these types of disconnections lead to ongoing struggles: incarceration, homelessness, a lower lifetime earning potential, chronic difficulty getting and keeping a job, living in extreme poverty, lack of health insurance, substance abuse, and chronic depression.
Our students (we currently have six boys in the program, ages 12-14) are resilient, vibrant, creative, outspoken, musical, funny, caring, curious, resourceful, athletic, and often, overlooked. They love to rap, dance, play sports, do arts and crafts, and learn about others. They deserve to feel appreciated and supported. They deserve unconditional positive regard. And, most of all, they deserve to feel connected with others.
I'd love to share letters of encouragement and motivation, of overcoming tough times, and of different life experiences (cultures, cities, people) with our students as well as our amazing REAL School staff members.”
Join me in writing to The REAL Students, won't you? Please be sure to address your letters as "Dear Students", and Be sure to mail your letters by December 20th to the following address:
Students of REAL School
℅ Elizabeth L.
12 S. Stafford Avenue Apt. A,
Richmond, VA 23220
Not sure what to write? Here's my letter:
I'm so proud of you.
I know you're probably asking yourself who is this crazy lady writing to us telling us that she's proud? This can't possibly be real.
But, my sweet boys, it is!
I am an artist and a teacher, and I am proud of you. For showing up to school and giving it your all. For diving headfirst into extracurricular activities and academics. For caring about others.
Did you know that your teacher describes you all as resilient, vibrant, creative, outspoken, musical, funny, caring, curious, resourceful, and athletic?
I hope you hear her words.
And, I hope you hear mine.
I hope you hear me when I say that the world needs more young men like you all. I hope you hear me when I say that the circumstances of your past do not have to dictate your future. You are more than your parents, and your home, and your clothes, and how much money you have.
You are a glorious, complex, wonderful human.
You are resilient, vibrant, creative, outspoken, musical, funny, caring, curious, resourceful, and athletic - and you were not born to stay small.
I hope you know that you are loved. I hope you know that you are valued. I hope you know that you inspire teachers and staff each and every day that you show up to school.
And I hope you keep showing up.
Because the world needs you.
It always has, and it always will.
Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!