I planned to share this post on Thanksgiving Day, but it didn’t quite work out. That’s ok, though. Since I’m going to tell you all about my holiday greetings project, it seems right to share the post in December after all.
Founded in November 2001, by Mark Martin, The Angel Card Project is an internet wide charity event designed to send greeting cards to those in need. The project started as a very small grassroots effort to reach a few indivdiuals to let them know they were not forgotten. Supported solely by volunteers, the mission of “Sending Love, One Christmas card at a time” was formed.
Unfortunately, by the time I learned about the Angel Card Project in 2020, it was really too late to send any Christmas cards. When I explored the group’s website, I saw that it has a Facebook page and that volunteers send out cards all year, not just at Christmas. Members of the Facebook group request cards for other folks on an almost daily basis. People ask for cards to be sent to celebrate birthdays, to offer condolences for death and other losses, to cheer up the sick and the lonely, and to lift up anyone who isn’t doing well. After the year that was 2020 and with the ongoing COVID pandemic still keeping people with compromised immune systems at home, lots of people needed some uplifting in 2021.
In the second week of January, I set a goal for myself. I decided that every week I would send out postcards to 5 strangers who needed some cheer. I found most of those people through the Angel Card Project’s Facebook page. I’ve met my goal every week! Early on, I even sent 10 postcards one week to make up for that first week in January when I hadn’t sent any. By the end of 2021, I will have sent over 250 postcards to strangers across the U.S.A. I’ve sent postcards to elders in their 70s, 80s, 90s, and even 100s who were having a birthday. I’ve sent postcards to sick kids and adults. I’ve sent postcards to folks who were home bound, either due to COVID or other life circumstances. I’ve sent postcards to people who were lonely, sad, depressed, or struggling in some other way.
But wait! There’s more!
Christmas is the prime focus of the Angel Card Project, and I decided I wanted to participate in a big way. At first, I decided I wanted to send 200 Christmas cards. I thought that was a fine goal for a first-time participant. I started collecting Christmas cards on December 26 of 2020 when I scooped up eight (or was it 10?) boxes of 12 each at the Family Dollar. I think I paid 50 cents or maybe $1 a box. I found some Christmas card closeout deals at Walmart too and added those to my expanding assortment.
I asked friends for the Christmas cards they weren’t going to use. Most of my friends don’t send Christmas cards, but a couple did have a few from years past that they sent to me. I appreciated every one I got.
My sibling works at Target and several weeks after Christmas saw holiday washi tape on clearance, greatly reduced in price. I soon opened a care package and found myself in possession of many rolls of washi tape. I started using it right away to decorate envelopes I wouldn’t be sending for at least 10 months.
Over the summer, while living in Taos, I browsed at least one thrift store several times a week. I often found holiday cards there. I waited until the cards were marked down and the price was quite low before I bought them. Before I knew it, I had 250 cards, then 275, then nearly 300. I set my new goal at 300 cards.
While house sitting, I started putting my return address on envelopes. I knew I needed to be ahead of the game if I was going to get 300 cards mailed before December 17, the deadline the USPS gave for mailing first class items for arrival before Christmas. I decided to go ahead and write a generic message and my signature in each card. I knew I could always write more later if I felt moved to do so.
When I returned to my southern desert home in early October, I was able to give the Christmas cards a rest. It was a good thing too, because a lot happened between then and Thanksgiving. A few days before Thanksgiving, when the Angel Card Project released the main list of people to send Christmas cards to, I was ready.
The list was 94 pages long and included 754 potential recipients! Stop a minute and let those numbers sink in.
A lot of people wonder how I decide what people on the list to send cards to. Honestly, I went with my gut. Each person on the list had a sentence or at most two telling about them and why they needed cards this year. I mostly sent cards to elderly people who live alone and/or far from most of their friends and families. I did send cards to some couples and kids, but I focused on elders who are alone.
I sent a card to everyone on the list who lives in New Mexico. That was an easy commonality to focus on. “I live in New Mexico too!” I wrote to those folks.
The reasons people need cards are heart wrenching. Kids are living with relatives because one parent is in prison and the other is strung out on drugs. Other kids are bullied, more than one to the point of being beat up. Several people are not just living far from family members, but are estranged from their families. It was stated for more than one elder that “all of his/her friends have died.” Many adults with developmental disabilities no longer have day programs to go to in the face of COVID and are sad to sit at home all day. Kids are sick. Adults are sick. Partners have died and relationships have fallen apart. The stories that hit me the hardest were the ones about people in my own age group. People ages 50 to 60 who are alone, lonely, depressed, sick…my heart aches for those folks because I can relate to them. We played with the same toys, watched the same TV shows, graduated from high school within a few years of each other, partied, danced, had children (or not), and now we are all growing old together, our bodies breaking down. How did this happen? It seems like only yesterday we were so young. (But I digress…)
Sometimes while writing holiday greetings, I cried for all of these people, the young and the old and us in the middle, and all of their pain. I kept going, though. What else was I going to do? I had 300 holiday cards, and they had to go somewhere. Besides, the people I was crying for didn’t know about my weeping. They needed cards not tears, so I kept working.
A few days after the list was out, the founder of the group started letting people post additional card requests to the Facebook page. These were requests that for whatever reason hadn’t made it on the main list. I read some of those requests and knew I needed to send more cards so I went to the thrift store and bought more.
I ended up writing 317 Christmas cards. About 10 of those were postcards and the rest were going out in envelopes. I mailed those out the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Was I satisfied? Heck no. When I got into bed that night, I thought about all those new requests going up on the Facebook group. Those requests were making me cry too. What if other volunteers focused on the list and the new requests didn’t get any attention? Before I went to sleep, I ordered 96 holiday postcards. I decided I’d send 6 of those each week until Christmas to people posted on the Facebook page. Whatever I don’t use this month, I’ll use next year.
When it’s all said and done, I’ll have sent out 335 Christmas cards to people I don’t know and probably never will.
Like so much of what I do, I didn’t…couldn’t…do this alone. Here’s where my Thankful Thursday comes in.
Thanks to Kerri, Shannan, Barbara H., and Mary who donated Christmas cards to my cause. Over 100 of the cards I sent out were from those four gals. Ten or so of the holiday postcards I mailed came from Russ, donated by two anonymous winners of Art Throw Down contests who donated their winnings of postcards to me. I appreciate those cards and postcards very much
As mentioned before, my sibling donated washi tape for decorating envelopes. Also, there were stickers in the big box of Christmas that Shannan sent. Thanks go out to both of these fine people. The cards I sent wouldn’t have been nearly as cute if I hadn’t had these decorating supplies.
Of course, the big expense in all of this was the stamps. Did you know a first class postage stamp now costs 58 cents? Yikes! Big thanks to Frank, Jessica, Coyote Sue, Ayun, and Barbara B. who donated stamps or money to buy them. My appreciation is immense.
As always, I have the pleasure of thanking the folks who support me on Patreon: Keith, Theresa, Nancy, Rena, Muriel, and Laura-Marie. I also have the pleasure of thanking Shannan who has an automatic payment set up with PayPal so I get financial support from her every month.
Big thanks also go to Brent who sent me a gift via PayPal in November and the friend who recently came into some money and insisted on buying me a fabulous new touch screen 2-in-1 laptop. This is my first blog post using the new laptop.
Wondering what you can do to support me? If you have any extra Christmas cards (or other greeting cards or postcards) lying around your house, I would gladly accept them for my uplifting cards to strangers work. If you want to send me stamps (or money earmarked for buying stamps), I would be glad to have postcard, first class, or international postage.
If you want to support me in general, please consider joining me on Patreon. If you join my Patreon club, you get content that other folks never see. I post photos and updates on my life every couple of days on my Patreon account. Depending on what level you offer support, you might get other gifts from me like a sticker, a bracelet, or even a collage. A donation of even $2 a month will get you access to patron-only content. To join me on Patreon, just click the “Become a patron” button at the top of the column to the right.
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Warm wishes on Winter Solstice! Happy Festivus! Merry Christmas! Happy Boxing Day! Have a blessed Kwanzaa! If you celebrate Hanukkah, I hope it was wonderful.
Happy New Year to us all! Thank you for all you do.