How We Made Positivity Go Viral

One hot summer day in 2015, Jessica Hurtt (JHurtt) told me about an organization called The World Needs More Love Letters. Basically, they encouraged people to write letters to others in need of genuine kindness and inspiration. Let’s bring this to our campus, Sinclair, JHurtt concluded. You should know that her positivity is magnetic.

We were excited and got to work. Soon, we were cleared to do the project and called it Notes of Kindness. Our fees were low (keep reading to see how to duplicate this at your institution) and a few core students were on board to help us get started. We gathered markers, blank greeting cards, and envelopes around the office. Then we made simple notes that said things like “You belong” or other thoughtful words.

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We personalized them and sent them to faculty, staff, administrators, and students and called it a day. Every note was anonymous and stayed that way during the entire project. We agreed that writing the notes felt natural and so darn good to do. Our next phase: Going Campus Wide.

You should know that I had a hard time being anonymous with my notes. Thankfully, a student and I had a good talk about humility and goals. I began signing my notes: From Someone Who Cares. Let’s just say my  ego was all like: really tho?!?! 

I sent an email to the entire campus which included a link to a sign-up form. The best subject line was: Want an uplifting note in your campus mailbox? In addition to capturing basic identifying information, the form included the following prompts:

form questions

**Click here to see the entire form. 

Participants were also given the option to enter their birthday. They received this video during their birthday month. Just a little extra to make things interesting.

If you’re putting two and two together, you’ll notice that the students powered this project. Getting their interest and investment early on made it what it was. At some point, we recruited Top Secret Letter Writers. About 30 people signed up to stop by my office at any time to write notes to people on the recipient list. Then we kicked the project up another notch. We hosted letter writing parties! 

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During the parties, we wrote letters to 4 – 5 people. Each recipient received their own Bundle of Kindness (a bundle contained 15-20 heartfelt notes). The notes ended up being longer because the writers were given a prompt about the person receiving the bundle. The bundles were delivered to relatives of the Mount community who were in real need of encouragement due to sickness or a death in the family. Seeing so many students take time out of their evening was powerful stuff. The second letter party was all about students nominating other students for bundles. In all, over 40 students were nominated and four were chosen. Their stories ranged everywhere from one student losing their home, to a student who was always giving to others but never kind to themselves.

Notes of Kindness.jpg

**Each note writer had access to this. It contained instructions, writing prompts, and rules for the project. Click here to see it.

From July 2015 to December 2015, our Notes of Kindness team wrote 300+ notes! People would thank me, but I’d tell them that the students wrote most of the notes. And that’s all true. One of the most touching aspects of this project was the student who came to our office every single day for three straight weeks. I took the opportunity to get to know them, and will forever be grateful from all I learned from them. They are truly amazing.

Make Positivity Go Viral on Your Campus

So there you have it. Positivity went viral on our Mount campus. Here are three quick tips to get this project started where you are:

  1. Inexpensive and Fast – This doesn’t mean to rush and put in minimal effort. The advice here is to get started today and not break the bank. Don’t overthink it. Who do you want to reach and what’s the simplest way to make that happen?  Eventually, I received funding for the project once my supervisor noticed that this was moving. But, the more creative you are the better. I ended up ordering these note cards and envelopes (EXCELLENT DEAL) and we used these Sharpie markers and these labels to seal the envelopes.
  2. Google Forms – If you’ve never used this before, it is super user-friendly, helpful when organizing recipient list on the back-end, and customizable.
  3. Sign, Sealed, Delievered – All of our correspondence was sent through university campus mail. I had a great conversations with our staff in the mail room before we began the project. While I secretly knew we wanted the entire campus to begin writing each other good ol’ snail mail, I made sure to respect our delivery system and the hard people fueling it. Word to the wise: make sure to screen every note before it’s sealed. You don’t want anything damaging being delivered.

Never doubt what a fantastic of group of loving people can make happen. Hmm..I need to wipe some tears of my face.

Now I know something is missing from this article. I’m imperfect. So, email me at sceasar1@gmail.com or comment below with any questions. I’d love to be a resource to you and help you get started. 

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