A few years back as a part of the 500 Kindnesses project I organized a holiday card drive for a retirement home in Chicago. Hundreds of cards came in from around the world to the seniors there, many of whom had no family to visit them over the holidays. Every few days I would get an update from the staff as to how many cards had arrived and where they were from.
More than 400 holiday cards from all over the world were delivered to residents in health care at The Moorings of Arlington Heights, a suburban Chicago retirement community and member of Presbyterian Homes. The cards were in response to a gratitude drive started at 500kindnesses.com [note: this site no longer exists] requesting holiday cards with personal notes and well wishes be mailed to them. The cards were in thanks for their pledges of acts of kindness supporting Canadian Todd O’Reilly, 42, and his 14-year-old son in their “500 Acts of Kindness” cross-country bicycle journey from Toronto to New York City.
The cards arrived from as far as Australia, New Zealand, Norway, The United Kingdom, Canada and from the U.S. states from coast to coast. One person requested the first names of all of the residents and sent personal cards to each one. Others sent YouTube videos of themselves singing Christmas songs. Another shared an ultrasound of their baby soon to arrive. Some sent lengthy letters with family photos and asked if anyone wanted a pen pal. They said they missed the relationship with older adults in their lives who were now gone and would be happy to begin a new relationship with one of The Moorings residents.
“The residents were astonished by whom and how far around the world their acts of kindness were noticed,” said Geri Wozniak, activities specialist at The Moorings. “We received cards from a class of autistic children, local schools, a Sunday school class and even one from a girl who lives at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, England. The residents were further touched that a group of busy staff at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles found a moment to send a Christmas photo and card.”
Every morning, the residents read the cards together “as a family.” They recorded from whom each card was sent and displayed them all around the activity room. Ms. Wozniak then organized residents to create return greeting cards to send back with personalized messages to those who had requested a pen pal. One of the messages received from an eighth grader in Stroudsburg, PA, read “To Angels on Earth. You truly are the example the world should follow. You’re a godsend, thank you for your help changing the way I think of life!”
At 500kindnesses.com Mr. O’Reilly posted his thanks to those who sent cards and said “An act of kindness doesn’t have to be huge or take a great deal of effort to make a huge difference people’s lives. A card sent, a smile or a hug given, a meal shared – these things, when lovingly performed can be truly significant to another person…”
He continued “Most importantly, it also illustrates the power of turning ideas into action. We’re all filled with amazing ideas, beautiful ideas, ideas that can do nothing short of change the world around us. But if we talk ourselves out of doing those ideas, find reasons that it won’t work, or won’t have the desired impact, then nothing will happen. In this case so many people … just did it.” – Via PRWire
This morning as I was reading the paper, I read an article [article and video link here] about an old age home in Bowmanville, about 70 kilometres east of here. This home launched a program called “Postcard Pals” in which they are asking people around the world to send postcards to the residents. I know I have many readers from all over the world: India, Singapore, South Africa, the UK, Australian as well as many places within North America. It would be amazing if you could send them a hello from your corner of the world. I know they would love it. You can send them to:
264 King St E
L1C 1P9 CANADA
Thanks so much!