CANTON Depending on one’s age, they may remember a time when letter writing was a highly popular way to communicate. It was always exciting to go to the mailbox and find a handwritten letter from a friend or a relative.
Long before the days of email or video chat, letter writing was the only way to communicate with people who lived far away. Sometimes revisiting the "older" ways can be fun and it can bring out the best in people.
The Canton Kindness Coalition decided at one of its idea brainstorming meetings to encourage area children to participate in writing letters to keep in touch with friends and family who may be shut in because of the pandemic.
The group, with 40 active members, works to achieve one goal, to make kindness contagious. Its create acts of kindness throughout Stark County.
"I saw a gap in area groups where they are helping one particular group and ask a large commitment of time from their volunteers," said Canton Kindness Coalition founder Sweany said. "I started the Kindness Coalition in Nov. 2018 so that anyone could be involved in any way they feel comfortable. We had close to 10 people who jumped on board immediately. Our ideas and activities include ways to spread kindness and include all groups including children and adults in our activities. All the ideas come from the members. Our first project was to write holiday cards for local veterans."
For this project, members donated items for the letter writing kits and had enough to hand out 80 kits in mid to late August and they still have close to 50 kits still available. The kits include enough supplies for each child to write three or four letters.
The kits were put together inside a Ziplock bag. Letter writers found stickers, notepads, envelopes, erasers, pencils and pens and a fruit snack inside.
While the main campaign was during two weeks in August, Sweany said there are still kits available for those kids who want to try it out and spread some kindness through their letters.
"There are still kits available and kids can pick them up at Cantonology on 4th Street in downtown Canton," she said. "Carpe Diem coffee shop also helped us distribute the kits but right now only Cantonology has kits available. If kids don’t have anyone to write a letter to, we put the address of the McKinley Health Care Center inside the kit for them to write a letter to one of the residents there."
The group meets monthly, and it is now meeting virtually. The next meeting is 6 p.m. Sept. 24th. A link to the meeting can be found on the group’s Facebook page. Meetings are usually the third Thursday of each month. This month’s meeting was moved in an effort to encourage followers to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the NFL due to it being an important day for Canton.
Other events planned for the future include:
• From Sept. 21-Sept. 29, the group is having a "Positive Pencil Drive," encouraging folks to write positive messages on pencils and drop them off at Cantonology. The pencils will go to a local Backpack program.
• Kindness Pumpkin Painting (likely late September)
• Self-pamper packets for local women's shelters (donation drive in early October)
• Reverse trick or treat for local health care workers (mid October)
• Kind Characters costume contest (launching Oct. 15th; costume contest will be held online the last week of October)