Local pen pals sharing joy worldwide

London, ON, Canada / 106.9 The X

Did you ever have a pen pal back in the day? It was neat writing a letter to someone you had never met but felt some connection with through your words on paper.

A group at Western is looking to popularize the idea amongst university students. They’re called Envelope for Joy. Victoria Henri has been in the club for three years.

“We’re a charity-focused pen pal club. We write letters to kids all over the world. In the past we’ve written to Kenya, Peru, Indonesia, Korea, etc. We also make handmade cards to sell for charity.”

She explains how she got involved with the club.

“I was in first year when my friend started talking to me about it. I liked it because it’s different. You get to do a lot of hands-on crafts and I’m kind of an artsy-craftsy person. It’s calming. It’s a good break from the science stuff that I do.”

Members of the club write letters to people within the London community as well, and in terms of commitment, it’s not a strenuous undertaking.

“It’s a relatively low-commitment club and we like to promote it like that. We meet once or twice a month and then the pen pal exchange letters are ongoing.”

One of the neat things about the idea is that it’s a bit of a throwback. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone just for fun? It’s easy to forget how cool it is to see an envelope with your name on it that isn’t a bill or junk mail.

“Yeah, it’s, like, thrilling when we get it!” Henri exclaims. “We usually get a package of letters together and then we distribute them individually. It’s cool to send them out, too. I didn’t even know how to send out a letter until I started in this club!”

Last week the group set up shop in the UCC atrium to show off some incredibly nice Valentine’s Day cards, and it looks like a LOT of work went into their creation.

“A whole bunch of club members and execs, we spent three or four hours with an instructor, and then the execs spent many more hours putting it together.”

Cards are purchased by donation, and Henri explains where the money goes.

“We support various local children’s charities and some around the world. We’re still looking for a charity right now but we’re thinking of going with a charity in Kenya that we’re also writing letters to.”

Connecting with people across the globe is a lot easier in 2015 than it was even ten years ago. With the development of social media sites, talking to someone in South Korea is as easy as knocking on your neighbour’s door. That’s where this club stands out, and the uniqueness of a handwritten letter is what Henri likes the most.

“It’s a lot more intimate especially with the handwritten part of it. It’s exciting to get those letters and sometimes they send you little gifts like coins from Korea or drawings. It’s really nice. It’s a good feeling. It’s good to know that we’re doing something positive. It’s a lot of fun.”

For more information on Envelope for Joy, you can visit their Facebook page here.


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