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Woman sends love letters to strangers

By Brett Harman, CNN
updated 2:37 PM EST, Thu February 13, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hannah Brencher spent a year writing love letters to strangers
  • Her kind words turned into More Love Letters, which has sent notes to 50 countries
  • Write a letter and share the love at MoreLoveLetters.com

(CNN) -- Hannah Brencher never planned on starting a worldwide movement. Her life wasn't going as planned so she looked for a way to cope. That's when she started writing.

"I began leaving love letters all over New York City back in October 2010," Brencher writes on her personal website, "as a way to try to fight off my own loneliness and depression." She took it even further and went on to write over 400 letters to strangers around the world.

Her kind words turned into More Love Letters, an international organization that has sent notes of positivity and encouragement to people in all 50 states and 50 countries. Those deserving of letters are nominated, with friends or family explaining why they're deserving of an outpouring of support. Writing volunteers read the nominations and respond to those that move them.

Brencher described the organization as the "best accident" that ever happened to her.

The letters are as unique as the individuals who write them. A quick glance at the More Love Letters website shows some written on embellished stationary while others are written on plain index cards.

The messages written in the letters are meant to touch the heart of the reader.

"Dear Friend, Embrace today. You are amazing, beautiful, loved. Brighten a room with your smile," states one letter.

Another one is more lighthearted. "I hope today is/was a good hair day and that you felt confident in what you chose to wear."

Whatever the message, these letters make an impact.

"(The More Love Letters team) received an e-mail from a girl who had been riding on the subway and she had just found out that her mother had cancer," Brencher said. "She actually looked down to the side of her and she noticed that there was a love letter sitting there with all the words of encouragement that she could possibly need."

In fact, in addition to sending letters directly to those who are nominated, More Love Letters encourages recipients to pass their messages on, or leave them for others to find.

People find the letters in the strangest places.

"I have heard of everything from in the grocery store to in coffee shops," Brencher said.

"We've seen a lot of people start to leave love letters in their favorite books." Brencher said one book in particular seems to be a popular location to leave love letters: "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."

After receiving a letter, Betina Foreman said she sees the value in paying it forward. "People always want to complain," she said, "but when somebody does something right, how often does somebody say something?"

As the organization has grown, it has expanded into other ways of sending love. Through its Campus Cursive program, More Love Letters has sent letters to more than 100 college campuses.

More Love Letters has also partnered with Cards for Hospitalized Kids.

"We realized that there were a lot of children out there that wanted to write letters and a lot of teachers that wanted to get children involved with the letter-writing process," Brencher said. "So we worked with this organization to partner up, to mail love letters to the Miami Children's Hospital."

Even though it can be tough running an organization, Brencher said she continues to find motivation. "I've seen through this organization just how good people are and how wonderful people are and how genuinely people want to serve one another."

To find out how you can start writing letters, visit MoreLoveLetters.com.

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