Clubs Are For Kids

Let’s call him Don. Don is old. He lives in an assisted living facility. A few weeks ago he got something in the mail. It was a colorful envelope, with hand-drawn flowers, hearts, and squiggly handwriting. He didn’t recognize the return address.

“What in the…?” mumbled Don, holding the card. The grizzled former Vietnam vet is not known for using PG-rated interjections.

To say Don is lonely is an understatement. In the half year since the pandemic began, Don has had maybe four people visit.

On a daily basis he sees only nurses, orderlies, cafeteria workers, and the 96-year-old guy down the hall who is always singing show tunes to a sock puppet.

Don tore open the envelope. It was a frilly card, with lots of artwork, and girly handwriting. You can always spot the handwriting of a girl. It’s very loopy.

The card read: “You are loved.”

He flipped it over. There were no more clues.

The whole thing made him laugh. He even looked around the room to make sure a hidden camera crew wasn’t lurking nearby.

When his nurse came to change his sheets, he said, “Did you see the card I got?”

The nurse looked at it. “Who’s it from? Your grandkids?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I don’t know who it’s from.”

Don is not on anyone’s radar screen anymore. He’s what you would call a shut-in. And when COVID-19 came along, he became more than just a shut-in. He felt like he became a memory.

He placed the card on his nightstand, where he could see it in plain view.

“You are loved,” it said.

And now I want to introduce you to Jessica Ong. She is a 14-year-old at Westview High School in Atlanta. When the pandemic began, she started making greeting cards to pass the time.

It all started by writing letters to her grandmother and her aunt. Then it mushroomed into something else. Jessica began writing cards to complete strangers. She wrote to first responders, hospital workers, and nursing homes.

At first it was just something to do. It was a hobby, something constructive. It could have all ended right there. But it didn’t. Jessica started a club.

Her club is called “Cards 4 Kindness.” The idea was simple: send cards to strangers. Here’s a sample from one of Jessica’s handmade cards to a hospital worker:

“Thank you so much for everything you’re doing right now. I wanna let you know that our community recognizes all the work you’ve done.”

Right from the get-go, Jessica’s club started getting members. And these members were taking care of business.

Within the first six weeks of the pandemic, the club had already sent one thousand cards. And things weren’t slowing down. Teenagers were joining from all over the U.S.

There’s Carlos, a high-school senior from Miami, who says: “I have always loved helping others and inspiring others to persevere.”

And Noor, a sophomore from Houston. “I love animals, and my biggest dream is to become an oncologist.”

Frank, a junior from Texas. “I’m a member of the basketball team, and I also enjoy playing the piano in my spare time. I am really looking forward to spreading the gift of kindness to others.”

And Sofia. “I’m a third-year neuroscience PhD student from Baylor College, studying the plasticity of underlying contextual fear memory formation. And I’m glad to become part of this beautiful initiative.”

She sounds fun.

Emilia, a high-school junior from Southern California. “I plan to pursue a career in orthopedic pediatrics so I can treat the young people of the world to overcome skeletal issues.”

Gina, a college student in Phoenix. “I hope to be a physician or a physician’s assistant, I’m super excited to spread love to nursing homes, especially in these difficult times.”

These are just some of the first wave members. More volunteers started signing up from other parts of the world. Pretty soon you had people like:

Nia (age 15), Wales, U.K. “I love making people smile.”

Angela, high-school freshman, Philippines. “I’m very excited to make this world a kinder place for everyone.”

Joan (16), Netherlands. “I’m so excited to share love and positiveness with other people.”

Stephanie (18), Bolivia: “I want to generate a positivity effect.”

Chole, high-school junior, Ontario. “I’m excited to be spreading positivity in my community.”

And Cyrine, a college student from the Philippines. “My heart yearns to bring comfort and a safe space to those who need it. I am quite excited about bringing joy and putting smiles on their faces.”

As of now, Jessica has over 400 card-writers in 22 countries who write to strangers all over the world. She calls these friends “ambassadors.” And even though most of them are barely old enough to have driver’s licenses, their words circulate the globe. These kids write a shipload of cards.

How many cards is a “shipload” exactly?

Take Leah. She just finished writing 500 letters to people living in the Elderwood Assisted Living Home in Hamburg, New York. I don’t know if Leah’s hands were cramped after writing that many cards, but my wrist hurts just writing this sentence.

The club’s colorful envelopes have been multiplying faster than bacteria. They soar across the Atlantic, Pacific, and find their way into the unseen corners, and sterile nursing homes. The humble cards appear in mailboxes, almost mysteriously.

Like the card that still sits on Don’s bedside table. It stands upright, splayed open, beside his blood thinners and reading glasses. Before he goes to sleep each night he reads it. Sometimes he reads it out loud.

“You are loved,” it keeps telling him.

Then he turns out the light, rolls over, and says those words aloud to himself one more time.

Just so he doesn’t forget them.


  1. Brenda Phipps - August 25, 2020 9:27 am

    Thank you Sean for reminding me that there are still good kids in this world!

  2. Pat Patton - August 25, 2020 9:35 am

    What a wonderful story about youth writing to the lonely or the forgotten or the helpers. Thank you!

  3. Mary Hall - August 25, 2020 10:47 am

    My mom moved from her independent living apartment to memory support on 8/12/2020. We’ve been sending cards and pictures. Put 4 year old grandson, Jackson, sends art work. So…I got some paper, coloring books, crayons, stickers and markers for mom. I included some self addressed stamped envelopes for Jackson’s address. Hopefully they will be “pen pals!” It’s also a way to find a home for all of Jackson’s day care art work and just maybe make two people “know they are loved!” Thank you for sharing this! Covid can’t kill kindness! Hugs!

  4. Liz Bishop - August 25, 2020 10:51 am

    Such a loving thing to do. So proud of all those young people. Oh, how it brightens the day of the lonely or forgotten among us.

  5. Amy - August 25, 2020 11:02 am

    This is a modern day miracle co spidering all the garbage you hear on the news every day. Thanks. I needed to be reminded that there are really good young people (besides mine) out there.

  6. Amy - August 25, 2020 11:04 am

    *considering. Considering! NOT co spidering! Good lands.

  7. Lisa Ware - August 25, 2020 11:09 am

    Wow. I almost made it to the end before the tears. You have a gift. Thank you for sharing the love & hope.

  8. Susan L Forte - August 25, 2020 11:32 am

    I have tears in my eyes and a smile on my face—thank you, Sean!!

  9. Virginia Russell - August 25, 2020 11:39 am

    Sofia is fun.

  10. Virginia Russell - August 25, 2020 11:42 am

    She’s also fluent in Grad School, a rarified language.

  11. Christopher Spencer - August 25, 2020 12:13 pm

    The world needs more stories about kids like these. Thanks Sean for telling us about them.

  12. Deirdre Skogen - August 25, 2020 12:27 pm

    Beautiful post. I’m wondering: Is there any way the rest of us can help in this way? I’m a way far off from my teen years – as my grandfather would say, “That ship has sailed.” But I bet there are “older” folks who would like to help/write too. (Another way to help the USPS too.) Any resource that you know of to hook us up?

  13. Mary are - August 25, 2020 12:49 pm

    This is awesome!

  14. Lauren D Ulrich - August 25, 2020 1:12 pm

    Any idea how a kid could get connected to Cards 4 Kindness?

  15. Robert M Brenner - August 25, 2020 1:15 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart ❤️. Thanks to all of you Love Ambassadors ❤️

  16. Shirley - August 25, 2020 1:16 pm

    Sean, I always count on you for the daily washing of my eyes. One of my dearest friends is in memory care so this went straight to my heart! Thank you for Good News!

  17. AlaRedClayGirl - August 25, 2020 1:21 pm

    Deirdre, I don’t know how to join the Cards 4 Kindness, but I’m sure if you called your local nursing home or assisted living facility they would help you get cards to their residents. Great story, Sean!

  18. Jan - August 25, 2020 1:21 pm

    Awesome idea and awesome people making it happen! Thanks, Sean!

  19. John - August 25, 2020 2:10 pm

    All it takes is one person with an idea. Wow!

  20. Dee Thompson - August 25, 2020 2:14 pm

    Sean I loved this column, but please add this in, for folks who want to join:

  21. Pat McGilberry - August 25, 2020 2:22 pm

    What a beautiful thing. I should do this.

  22. Susan - August 25, 2020 2:33 pm

    What a kind and loving gesture❣️That would put a smile on anyone’s face!

  23. Sue Rhodus - August 25, 2020 4:03 pm

    I work with “seniors” every day..I see loneliness. I see memories. I see isolation. So, if I can see a smile on their face from something I said or did ..then my day is complete ! God bless these card senders ! ❤

  24. Sheri - August 25, 2020 4:14 pm

    BEAUTIFUL!!!! Thank you Sean for sharing this with a world that really needs to know of the love that is out there!

  25. MAM - August 25, 2020 4:52 pm

    Today your writing brought smiles, followed by happy tears. Thanks!

  26. Dale Lynn - August 25, 2020 4:54 pm

    How encouraging to see these young people show such kindness!!!!! It’s obvious they have God in their hearts!!!!!!

  27. Sandee - August 25, 2020 5:21 pm

    Children spreading kindness began during the pandemic by one young child. What a wonderful parent that young girl has to inspire and/or help her create a network for spreading love & kindness.

  28. Dee Cullen - August 25, 2020 5:40 pm

    Awesome! ❤️

  29. Helen De Prima - August 25, 2020 6:52 pm

    And you are loved for reminding us there are flowers growing in the rubble.

  30. Linda Moon - August 25, 2020 8:01 pm

    Being alone is not always bad. But being lonely is. The art of writing cards and letters or typing words in a column for strangers is always good. I hope Noor becomes an oncologist, maybe there in Houston at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where I had good oncologists on my surgical team. If “Don” wants to keep more cards and letters coming in, let us readers know, Sean, so he can have more to read before he turns the lights out.

  31. Keloth Anne - August 25, 2020 8:18 pm

    This one is just incredibly wonderful!! I love reading the good deeds of others and especially our amazing young folks ♥️🥰
    Thank you ♥️♥️

  32. Hazel Barber - August 26, 2020 5:45 am

    Be the light in a dark world. What a great reminder.

  33. Toni Keeling - August 29, 2020 1:43 am

    Thank you. Loved this wonderful account of a terrific outpouring of love. Even though I am an Australian senior I may join this club. xxxx

  34. Nancy - September 29, 2020 3:46 pm

    My brother-in-law died two years ago from Alzheimer’s. He’d been a mail carrier and continued to put his mail carrier hat on and gather up mail he found and deliver it around the house. My sister-in-law asked people to send him post cards. He had a box full from all over the US. Such a small act, but it made his last days happy.

  35. Brenda - October 7, 2020 1:49 pm

    Very smart Mom to teach your children to be thoughtful of others and teach them gratitude.


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