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.)

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.