11-yr-old letter writer receives hundreds of personal notes from grateful postal workers

While the 245-year old U.S. postal service battles for its survival, a story of the power of a personal letter is showing us why we cannot let it fail. Not only does USPS provide mail services to rural areas that otherwise wouldn't have anyone to deliver mail or packages, but it serves the public with diligence and heart.

A story shared by a dad of a daughter who loves to write and send letters has tugged at people's heartstrings on social media. Graphic designer Hugh Weber wrote on Twitter:


"Emerson, my 11 year old, is on a bit of a wild ride with the @USPS and our local mail carrier, Doug.

And, I think there's a deeper message to it all.

First, the backstory...

Em has a serious letter writing habit. She maintains active correspondence with over a dozen of her favorite people. And, if you've been the lucky recipient of one of Em's hand decorated letters and envelopes, then you have a pretty good idea of the joy they bring.

A letter from Emerson is likely to include some art, a joke or two, a mention of her younger brother, confessions of her love for Taylor Swift and enough questions to guarantee a response.

So, when she decided to thank our mail carrier for the service he provides us, she left nothing out. In went Taylor Swift, in went the little brother, in went the jokes.

Q: Why do you never see elephants hiding in trees?
A: Because they're really good at it.

Em wrote, "I'm Emerson. You may know me as the person that lives here that writes a lot of letters & decorated the envelopes. Well, I wanted to thank you for taking my letters and delivering them. You are very important to me. I make people happy with my letters, but you do too."

She continued, "The reason you are very important in my life is because I don't have a phone so how else am I supposed to stay in touch with my friends? You make it possible!"

She put it in the box, smiled when he took it & that was enough.

The next day a package arrived with some stamps & two letters. Doug had shared Em's letter with his supervisor, Sara, and they both wanted to share how touched they were by her note.

Sara said that, as an essential worker, Doug might not be able to maintain regular correspondence, but she sure could. Em started writing that very afternoon.

This is when things get interesting. The next week, we got a letter address to 'Mr and Mrs Weber.' It seems that Sara had shared Em's note as a 'Token of Thanks' in the internal newsletter for the Western US and there were some postal folks that wanted to thank her.

Today, we saw Doug getting out of the truck with two BOXES of letters from around the country. We snapped a quick photo through the door as he and Emerson met for the first time. It was a beautiful moment on silent reciprocity.

These letters are so deeply human. They are filled with family, pets, hobbies, community and an overwhelming sense of kindness.

Because Em was fully vulnerable, they were too.

Em shared jokes, so they shared jokes.

Em share her brother, so every gift that was sent came in duplicate.

Em shared @taylorswift13 and it turns out that the US Postal service is filled with lots of undercover Swifties.

One maintenance manager from Minnesota wanted to inspire her to start collecting stamps so he sent along two stamps of his own from the bulletin board in his office to start her collection.

And, they sent stamps to be used as well. Stamps for her to write back. Stamps for her to write others. Stamps, stamps, stamps. (218 by Em's count.)

But, there was something more in these letters. People felt seen - some for the first time in a long time.

"I work alone in a small rural post office..."
"My kids all live far away..."
"Not a lot of people think about how hard we work..."

One wrote,
"I can't tell you how much it means to read your letter..."

Another,
"I have a son in Kuwait and if you have a second to send him a letter he would love it."

And another,
"I know you can't write back to all of us, but maybe I can drop you a line from time to time?"

With dozens of new pen pals, Em did what she does best.

She wrote the dad.
She wrote his son.
She assured the secret swifties not to be embarrassed because her dad likes TSwift, too.
She acknowledged that there WERE a lot of letter but that she had time.
She sees them all.

I'm not sharing this because I'm a proud dad. I'm sharing it because it is relatively easy, if we take the time, to give others the one thing they need to be well - human connection.

I have a friend that says we all just want to be seen, known and loved.

Em does this boldly.

It's #MentalHealthAwareness month and I want to be bold and brave like Em.

We're all in a moment of physical isolation that is amplifying a real epidemic of loneliness, anxiety and depression. I've been feeling it personally since long before we locked our front door.

In the second week of quarantine, I responded to hundreds of DMs from creatives who are feeling this disconnect in a significant way. I heard from college students to senior executives who personally and professionally are stressed, worried and/or afraid.

Two weeks ago, I personally started working with a @talkspace therapist for the 1st time.

For years I've travelled the country talking about relationships of influence, but I've used that travel as an excuse not to seek the support I know I need. This pause gave me time to act.

I have incredible family & friends, but the truth is that I needed more. And, sending texts via an app has been the small step I needed.

Moral of the story: it's the small things that matter most, friends.

Send a letter.
Make a call.
Practice self care.
Take a step of boldness.
For yourself or for others.

And, thank your mail carrier (from an appropriate distance.) They are working extremely hard to keep us all connected.

And, if any of you are feeling isolated, anxious, scared or depressed, those feelings are valid. I'm feeling them, too.

And, I'm here if you need me."

What a beautiful example of humans reaching out and touching other human hearts in simple yet profound ways. In a time when we are more physically isolated than ever, seeing these sincere efforts to connect are truly hopeful. And at a time when the postal service needs support, what a lovely illustration of why it's worth saving.

To support USPS, you can buy stamps on their website. ("Forever" stamps will always work for sending a letter, even if stamp prices go up. Stock up and send grandma or an old friend a card or letter in the mail. You know they'll love it.)

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less
via @Kingkeraun / Twitter

Keraun Harris, who goes by the name King Keraun, is a popular comedian on social media who's appeared as an actor on HBO's "Insecure" and ABC's "Black-ish."

On Monday, he posted a video on Twitter sharing the story of how a white woman had his back during a recent traffic stop.

"I just got pulled over, and for the first time, I watched a white woman record my whole traffic stop," she said.

Keep Reading Show less
True

*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

Keep Reading Show less