Some time ago, a year or two, maybe, I was talking to my friend Kelly on the phone. She was having a bit of a rough time of it, so I spontaneously said, "Give me your address. I want to send you something." She gave it to me, and later that day, I slid a photograph of a sunflower in an envelope with a note that said, "Hey -- a friend of mine once told me that she couldn't look at a sunflower without smiling. Hopefully this will work for you, too." Then I stuck a stamp on it, and put it in the mail.
Over this past summer, I saw Kelly at the BlogHer conference, and at one point she mentioned that she still had the photograph, placed in a location where she could see it. "It works," she said. "I smile when I look at it."
I was so touched that she told me this, and it made me realize that photographs can be so powerful, you know? I mean, words are definitely meaningful, but you send someone an email, often it eventually gets deleted. Letters are better, but even those get tucked away in a drawer or a shoebox, to be looked at only occasionally. But images, man, they get displayed. They're constant little reminders of memories, or sweet sentiments.
So then I started thinking: if photographs are so powerful, maybe I can do something with them, you know? It's getting to be holiday time, and while we tend to do things for the needy (donate old clothes or cans of food, that sort of thing), I was thinking that it would be cool to do something more tangible this year. So I came up with this idea:
What if we just sent photos (or handmade postcards) to people at hospitals who won't be able to go home for the holidays, and who could use a little brightening up around their beds? I thought to start with, we could send photographs for the kids at Texas Children's Hospital -- photographs (or art cards), with perhaps a little sentence on the backs of them that will help lift spirits, and our names (or aliases) and our hometowns, so they know someone is thinking of them from far away? That way they can have the image next to their beds at all times ...
... who's with me?
If this sounds cool to you, here's how it would work:
1. Print a favourite photo of yours -- one you're proud of, one that is meaningful for you, whatever. Please, no smaller than 4"x6", and no larger than 8"x10". It can be of anything -- your favourite pet, a flower, a sunset, whatever. You can print one or more, or lots of prints of one image, or lots of prints of lots of images. Whatever. It's up to you. And seriously: this doesn't have to be professional quality -- just pick a photo you've taken that you love. If it means something to you, trust me, it will mean something to the person who receives it.
2. On the back of the image(s), say something sweet. It could be the story behind the picture, or just a short, lovely sentiment, or whatever. I spoke with the Volunteer Services officer at Texas Children's Hospital, and she had some advice:
- nothing religious in nature (like "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Hannukah!" or whatever, since we don't know the religious backgrounds of the kids who will be receiving the phtoographs or cards)
- nothing that says "Get well soon!" because well, frankly, some of the kids won't be getting well
- restrict your notes say the kinds of things that a kid would love to hear. You know, things like "You're amazing!" or "You rock!" or "Dream big dreams!" or "Sending you warm thoughts!" You get the idea.
- sign only your first name or an alias -- no last names, please.
- no photographs of yourself or your family -- stick to animals, nature, still lifes, scenery, that sort of thing.
3. Also on the back of the image(s), sign your first name only (or alias, if that makes you more comfortable), and the city/country you're writing from. Because I'm thinking that the kids would be tickled pink to receive photographs from far away places like "Fargo, North Dakota," let alone "Auckland, New Zealand."
4. Send your photo(s) to me postmarked no later than November 30th, 2009, to the following address:
Karen Walrond -- Chookooloonks
650 W. Bough, Suite 150-108
Houston, Texas 77024
United States of America
and I'll be sure to get your image(s) to the hospital.
5. If you're not comfortable sending a photograph, but you're crafty, you can participate too! Just send your handmade card (or cards!) to the above address -- with this only caveat: please do not include anything on your card that can be pulled off and become a choking hazard. This was a specific request from the Volunteer Services Officer.
So, are you in? I hope so. Just think of the karmic cool points you'll get from doing this.
Hope to hear that you guys are up for this. It's a lovely, easy way to brighten up some sick kids' lives -- and I think it will mean more to them than you know.
Please say you're in.