When Hannah Brencher was a newbie in the big ol’ world, post-college and diving into New York City, urban life was sometimes getting the best of her and she found herself depressed. Instead of pouring herself into 40 oz’ers or bottles of bourbon (as so many college grads might), Hannah poured herself into writing…love letters, to be specific…to strangers. Learn all about it at her website, The World Needs More Love Letters.

She wrote love letters to strangers on the subway that looked like they needed a boost, or someone on a street corner or in the grocery store who had more than their fair share of the world’s weight on their shoulders…and since putting pen to paper isn’t instant like 140-character tweets or instant messages and texts, the person who inspired her scribe work might have moved on, so she left these writings in coffee houses, libraries, tucked into someone’s coat pocket…places that when discovered, she knew they would light up a life for a moment. She then began blogging about her love letter writing, and offered an invitation to anyone who felt like they needed a hand-written letter, to let her know and she would write to them. Her inbox floweth over…more and more the requests came from the lonely or sad, the distant and cut off, and, of course, the curious. In about nine months, she wrote and mailed over 400 letters, and in her words, “It absolutely healed me.” Now there are scores of folks taking up the task of writing and sending hand-written missives to people just because (or just because they ask–there are ways to volunteer to respond to requests for notes on the website–so plan on a little writer’s cramp just for the fun of it).

Think of how a note of love with no expectations or strings attached might lift the spirits of someone you know, or perhaps even more fun, someone you don’t. A selfless act of writing, yours for the doing, any time, any place. Hannah’s websiteserves as an easy guide, or “recipe” as she puts it, to just putting a little positivity out there. Grab a pen and stationery, and make someone’s day.

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About The Author

Andrew Mersmann's picture

Andrew is the author of Frommer's global guide to volunteer vacations, "500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference" (Gold Medal Winner from Society of American Travel Writers: Best Guide Book 2010). He spent more than a decade on the editorial team of PASSPORT Magazine. He has volunteered and led teams on service projects around the world, and is honored to be on the boards of directors for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (AARBF.org) and Mentor Artists Playwrights Project (mentorartists.org). Mersmann has been a featured speaker, interview guest, or moderator on several travel talks, from the New York Times Travel Show, Smithsonian Associates, and the 92nd Street Y-TriBeCa to Oprah and Friends, Animal House, and The Focus Group on satellite radio as well as on NY1 television. Past participant at the Clinton Global Initiative and judge for Condé Nast World Changers Conference, he blogs about volunteering and service travel at www.ChangeByDoing.com. As part of the evox television team, he is dedicated to audience engagement, so if you're not engaged, he needs to be thumped on the head (gently)...or at least told (nicely). Twitter: /ChangeByDoing

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