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Someone You Should Know: Creating Acts of Kindness

Meet Dell Rapids woman who helps run Sioux Falls-based nonprofit
Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 11:00 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A Dell Rapids woman is on a mission to show that kindness wins. She helps run a non-profit that lifts up girls and women who need some words of encouragement.

“A young woman had recently lost her mom and I opened up this letter to mail it to her and when I opened it, it said in huge letters, ‘She mattered.’”

Only two words, but a powerful meaning. For Paige Thompson, being the executive director of The Letter Project means getting more people to understand they have the ability to offer much-needed support. And for those who need the support, it’s about making sure they know they’re not alone.

“We exist to build up women and girls who are going through hard times. We are a nonprofit that writes handwritten letters to people who are going through something challenging or difficult,” Paige says.

Many of the girls and women who write, request and receive these letters are located in the U.S., but some live in other countries, making this a worldwide organization.

“I feel like my biggest job, in an overarching summary, is that I get to facilitate acts of kindness. Honestly, as an executive director for this nonprofit, I have seen the greatest acts of humankind in the simplest, purest ways. I have read letters to girls and women that truly are the most beautiful, kind gestures to people who may not have support in any other way or who just are not feeling supported,” says Paige.

Paige first got involved with this organization as one of its volunteer writers. Now-a-days there are 7,000 of them.

“I’m a licensed clinical therapist and I’m also a mom of three kids under five. So finding time and ways to give back was always kind of hard for me to find that easy way to fit in to my schedule that was flexible. So, several years ago I started writing with The Letter Project as a volunteer and I fell in love with it… so when this job opening came up for the executive director, I sort of applied on a whim and just have really, truly felt the good that there is in the world in the midst of a lot of really challenging times that 2020 brought us, being involved in this organization has shown me and reminded me that people are inherently good.”

In 20-20, the nonprofit’s writers sent the most letters ever in a given year.

“So, each recipient gets 15-20 letters, we call them bundles. We have 15 to 20 letters that we put into a bundle for the person and they get them all at the same time, so it’s just a super powerful way to be uplifted and reminded that they’re not alone and that they’re going through something, that other people are there with them. When we think about the bundles, when I started in 2019 we sent out 260 bundles and last year we got to almost 400 bundles, so it ended up being over 8,000 letters we sent last year.”

For Paige, that’s an extremely encouraging milestone during the pandemic.

“I can’t think of anything cooler than that! That in this year of immense strife for people, people going through homelessness and struggling with poverty and their job losses, that this group came together and grew and wrote more letters than it ever has before. And I want to keep that momentum going, I want to keep reminding people that there’s a lot of good in the world. It was a pretty awesome thing to be a part of,” she adds.

If you’d like to request letters for yourself or someone you know, there are more details on the organization’s website. Just know, there may be a wait-list. The site can also tell you how to become a volunteer writer.

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