After moving to New York City upon graduating from college, Hannah Brencher found herself grappling with depression and loneliness. She started to write her feelings down in a notebook, when one day those thoughts morphed into an inspirational letter she wrote to a perfect stranger.
That letter unexpectedly came pouring out of Hannah on a NYC subway car after spotting a woman who appeared despondent. But the stranger got off the train before Hannah could give her the impromptu note, so she left it for someone else to find. Hannah found comfort in the idea that her words might brighten someone’s day.
“The art of letter writing presented something wonderful to focus on besides my own sadness. I started to leave them everywhere: coffee shops, libraries and even coat pockets in department stores. I liked to imagine who might find those letters,” Hannah explains.
Not long after, Hannah’s idea took on a life of its own when she blogged about her letter writing, and asked the simple question to her readers: “Do you need someone to write you a love letter today? Just ask.” Overnight, her inbox exploded with requests from people all over the world.
Nearly 400 handwritten letters later, Hannah started the The World Needs More Love Letters project, spreading love, kindness and inspiration through letter writing. These are not conventional love letters, written to a real beloved, but surprise letters from strangers for strangers during a time of need.
Life is hard. And yes, it breaks your heart. But you don’t have to go it alone.
“We basically want to create the most miraculous experience for people when they need it most: hundreds of letters of support and encouragement showing up at someone’s door all because someone in their own life loved them enough to just ask for those love letters.”
Since the project’s launch three years ago, The World Needs More Love Letters has sent more than 10,000 letters to people all over the world, and Hannah has authored her first book, If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers, to be released March 2015.
There are a few ways you can get involved, all of them as simple as the idea itself. You can write a letter and leave it somewhere for a stranger to find, join an existing letter request campaign on the project’s website, or nominate someone to receive a love letter bundle.
There really is something very special about receiving a handwritten note in today’s digital era. We love that anyone can join this cause and make an impact on the world. That’s one serious gift that keeps on giving!