Have you ever felt the overwhelming need to help someone? Hannah Brencher had this feeling in 2010, while she was right out of college and feeling lost in New York City. She wanted to help other people who were lonely and struggling, so she began to leave anonymous inspirational letters around the city. Two years later, her small acts of kindness have turned into a huge, inspirational organization called “The World Needs More Love Letters.” The organization mixes old-fashioned, handwritten letter writing with present day social media and technology. Read on to find out more about Hannah Brencher’s journey and how you can help out by writing your own letters!
Can you tell College Lifestyles a little bit about your organization, “More Love Letters”?
More Love Letters, short for The World Needs More Love Letters, is an organization that utilizes the power behind social media to write and mail love letters to individuals in need around the world. Every month we send Love Letter Bundles (bundles of letters ranging from 10-100 love letters) to strangers who have been nominated to receive love letters from our site. We also document and spread the idea of leaving love letters all over the world. Our site is a place for anyone to come back to and tell us where they found a love letter and what it did for their day.
How did you first come up with the idea for “More Love Letters”?
Mailing love letters and leaving them all over the city were two things I was already actively doing before starting More Love Letters. I was honestly getting tired of everyone thinking this was “my” thing. People wanted to get involved and, at the time, I didn’t know how. It dawned on me when reaching the 400-letter mark that I was holding a recipe in my own two hands. I needed to create a platform. Map out how to leave love letters. Orchestrate bundles. And just let the idea go out into the world. If it was good and if it was right, it would become its own thing. I learned pretty quickly how good and right it really was.
How important is the role of social media in the organization?
I always say that the organization would not exist today without social media. There are dozens of websites out there trying to get people to write love letters and mail love letters and people wonder why ours has become so widespread. I definitely believe it is because we don’t leave social media out of the equation. We have run the entire thing off of social media from day one. It wouldn’t be spreading this much without it.
How many love letters have been sent since the launch in 2011?
We just reached the 4,500 mark. I think we will definitely be hitting 5,000 in the next month or so!
What does an average “day at the office” look like for you?
Good question. Some days I am still trying to figure that one out! Though I wish I could say that More Love Letters was my complete fulltime work, I do some writing for other clients and act as a creative consultant as well.
When it is a More Love Letters’ kind of day, I start off by checking emails and responding. I weave through the site to update and make sure things get published on time and check in with the members of the team. I am constantly sorting through letter requests that come through the streams and taking the time to pull some off and write my own love letters to individuals who request them. Almost every day -or every other – includes a trip to the post office to pick up the mail. Later in the day, when I feel the lull of the afternoon coming at me, I normally take time out to read and scan love letters and get them ready to be mailed off. I do a lot of speaking engagements for More Love Letters so I normally designate the later hours for prepping and writing the More Love Letters’ book!
Do you think it’s important for young people to get involved in charitable acts like this?
I think so. Whether the acts are charitable or not, I think young people need to stretch their bones a bit and just find something they are really passionate about. It makes the world better when our generation is really dedicated to what we are doing. If More Love Letters can be that for someone then I have no complaints. It is just added bonus that the end result helps someone in need. We all like to know that a difference can be made by our smaller actions.
What are some of the biggest accomplishments for the organization thus far?
Jeepers, there have been so many. People’s jaws always drop to the floor when they recognize that we have only been around for a year! We’ve covered a lot of ground. In just a little over a month, we’ve already raised up 38 Campus Cursive Leaders. To me–someone who has been passionate in seeing More Love Letters grow on college campuses from day one–this is mammoth. I can only imagine what we will see for More Love Letters as college students take it into their own hands!
How can college students get involved with More Love Letters?
College students can get involved by beginning to sprinkle love letters around their campus, signing up for the subscriber list or checking out our Campus Cursive page to see if there is a branch already on their campus. If not, they should totally think about being the ones to start it up!
What do you think is the most rewarding thing about your job?
I’m living my dream. People always want to blab and say that it is impossible to be a writer in the year 2012. There is always negativity stewing in that one. Just the other night, I was on the train home from a More Love Letters party at Paper Source in Soho and I was talking with a man on the train. He said to me, “Well, you are one of the few people who actually say you make a living as a writer. That’s a pretty big thing.” The man was right. I smiled the whole way home. I feel very lucky and very fortunate every single day. The most rewarding thing, hands down, is the fact that I am living square in the middle of my Little Girl Dream and not many get to do that. I don’t take it for granted.
What do you hope for the future of More Love Letters?
I honestly can never give an honest answer to this one. I want big things for More Love Letters. I want her (because yes, she is a “she”) to grow as big and bright as she needs to be. I want her, above all else, to never stop being a light for people at the end of the day. She can decide how big it gets or when it stops or when it goes. I won’t stand in the way of that. I just want her to bring more goodness into the world than there was yesterday. That’s a simple thing to want. We are achieving every day when goodness, and more of it, is always the end goal.