Sunday, October 9, 2011

What's In Your Mailbox? Part 2: Pen-pals, LWA and World Post Day

Welcome back!

Today is World Post Day! (Like, letter post.  Post Office post.  Not blog posts. Or mailbox posts.  Or other kinds of posts.)  I'll get to that, but before I do...

Yesterday I admitted my deep, dark secret of stationery addiction/hoarding.  Today I hope to redeem myself a bit by telling you all about how I'm using those pretty papers.

A little backstory/history blurb about my past:
When I was 9, my parents made the decision to move us from Virginia to Georgia.  All of our family (both sides) is down here, and Dad was finished with school at CBN University (now Regent University).  He got his master's there in Broadcasting/Mass Communications.  My mom's dad and her mom's mom had also both just passed away that year, and she wanted to be closer to Gran.

In Virginia, the grades go 1-4th for elementary, 5-7th for middle, and 8-12th for high school.  My best friend, Kevin Thomas, and I were all excited about moving up to middle school.  At the end of the school year, Kevin and I exchanged addresses and promised to stay in touch.  I loved that boy so much.  This was twenty years ago, remember.  No internet, which means no email.  No Facebook. (Not that a 9 year old today has any business being on FB anyway, but that's a rant for another time.)  No cell phones.  Even home phones were out except for rare occasions, since there were long distance charges that applied.  Paper, pen and a stamp was the most economical and practical way for us to stay connected.

How I loved finding his letters in the mailbox!  As a few years passed and we moved on into the world of hormones and teenage-hood, I got over my broken heart of him being not only so far away, but the fact that we would only ever be "just friends".  (Ah, those sweet puppy-love crushes!) :)  We wrote to each other a few times a year, but like everything else in life, it got harder to find time.  Eventually it was only a Christmas card.  Much later, after I married, I found a box with some of our childhood letters and wrote a few lines to him to tell him of all the things I'd been up to since we were last in touch.  I sent it to his parents address in hopes that they still lived there.  They do, but I was crushed to find out from his mom that a few years before that, just after college, he had been killed in an auto accident.  I appreciate her taking the time to write to me and send me his obituary.   His parents were always sweet and good to me.

The one thing that stayed with me through all of that, though, was my love of writing and receiving letters!  As a high schooler, with a "long distance" (by a few hours) boyfriend (who is now husband), I lived for checking the mail.  Jake's love letters smelled like his cologne and were full of "I miss you"s and plans for holidays when we would get to see each other again.  I wrote to him every day and mailed off an envelope at least once a week.  (Obsessed much?  Yeah, I was!  In my defense, there was news of other mutual friends who went to school with me, and descriptions of our band shows and practices in all of those letters.  So it wasn't as mushy as you might think.)

As my friends and I parted ways to go to college, those letter writing skills came out in full force!  There was a particular set of friends whom I wrote letters with.  Letters went out from my post office (only 2 miles away, remember!) to OH, TN, NY, and FL all the time.  Recently, all but one of those has moved back to GA, so I stopped writing for a while.  Then I made some friends (long story) who live in Leeds, England.  One swaps packages with me: English Cadbury Turkish Dairy Milk bars!!!  I LOVE getting that box in the mail every few months!!!  I send him Twizzlers candy in return. :)

Missing writing to my friends in other states, and wanting to 'meet' more people from around the world, I was getting kind of glum about the growing collection of stationery that wasn't being sent out.  Then, I was offered a helping hand through a random Facebook post.  As I mentioned yesterday, I LOVE Crane & Co. Stationers.  I love them so much that I follow them on Facebook.  Here's the link so you can 'like' them too!  In late August, they offered to be pen pals with anyone who would send them a letter!  So I did!  It was so fun to get a reply a few weeks later.  They had (have) several hundred letters pouring in per week and are still posting photos on their FB wall of "letter of the week" and stacks they've received that will be replied to over a weekend.  If you want to write to them, the address is Crane & Co. Penpals, 44 West 28th St., 8th floor, NY, NY 10001.

In early September, there was a FB wall post from Crane thanking the Letter Writers Alliance's blog for helping to spread the word about their Pen Pal program.  Wait, what?  There's an alliance for letter writers??  I have to check this out!  So I followed the link to the LWA and fell in love.  A membership to this fine organization is a mere $3.  Membership with a set of LWA stationery and a badge along with a membership card is only $12.  (I answered the call to feeding my addiction getting more stationery, and got the $12 membership.)  It's a lifetime membership, so you don't have to ever renew it.  You get access to exclusive LWA stuff on the site, like member merchandise and pen-pal swaps.

Thinking about pen-pals prompted me to do a Google search about it.  I found all kinds of sites, and some Facebook pages, where you can swap addys and then write to your heart's content!  I was in letter writing paradise!  Here is the main one that I used to get started: Maarten's Snail Mail Pen Pals Online.  You can search by country (or state, if you want to write within the USA), browse the new and updated ones, or just find some at random.  I've sent out to half a dozen places in the UK, 3 to France, to various places in the US, and as far as Australia and New Zealand. :)  See how one random thing on Facebook can lead to all kinds of fun?? :)

Now I've read on the LWA's blog about today being World Post Day!  In it, there is a link to a Facebook page for this project:

Am I participating?  Well, of course!  I already am, since I send out so many letters every week! :)
I'll have a button on my right sidebar that links to the Facebook page up tomorrow.

What about you?  Where do you send letters to?  I know this will help with my stationery collection.  Cure it?  Nah.  Not even close.  But now I'm involved in sending them out for others to enjoy as well. :)
And admitting you have a problem is the first step. :D


  1. I love letter writing. I have two pen pals and had started with three others but they stopped writing. still, I think letters, holding the physical piece of paper in hand is such a nice & sweet feeling. now that everything's digital, I feel paper writing is still such a wonderful way to communicate.

    happy writing.

  2. Hi, Jenny! I found you through 52 Weeks of Mail FB page/wall. I love your post and all the link love you shared with your readers. I hope you don't mind but I mentioned you in my blog post today so others can read up on your fab post + check out all the link love you've shared. Let me know if you'd like something from the Windy City (Chicago-I live right outside of the Windy City in a lil' suburb) would love to send you something from my world...thanks again for a wonderful post! xo jo;)

  3. How fun!! I might pick up a pen pal. Maybe just start writing letters to people I already know! I've got several scattered throughout the middle east, 2 in germany. Very cool post!!