Sincerely, Cordially, Respectfully Yours
January 1, 2011 3:18 PM   Subscribe

As stated in a recent previous question, a good 365 to-do-per-day project is writing a letter a day.... so beyond the obvious, who should I write letters to?

I like writing letters. I like getting things in my mail box.

Other than writing letters and thank you notes to my parents and extended family, who should I write letters to?

I wrote a letter once to a favorite author (and got a reply back!) but I don't want to get too bored or find the message I'm writing to become tedious with the usual, "I loved your work...blah blah blah......keep writing / acting because....blah blah blah." And I don't want to feel like, after the 10th or 20th letter, that I'm a stalker fan-girl.

So who else should I write to?

Who might actually reply back? A reply isn't necessary, but it's a nice surprise. I'm also willing to write internationally.
posted by DisreputableDog to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (25 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Advocate a political positon and write to a different member of Congress every day supporting it.
posted by inturnaround at 3:20 PM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm not positive, but I think you can write letters to the soldiers deployed in Afghanistan. I heard about something like that years ago, so I don't know who you'd contact to get information.
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:24 PM on January 1, 2011

Your own descendants, to be opened at five-year intervals over the course of the next two thousand years. (They are, admittedly, unlikely to write back.)
posted by foursentences at 3:24 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

A favorite teacher, one of your friend's parents from when you were a kid, go through old photos and look for inspiration. You could always send the photo with a note that says, "came across this photo and thought I should say hello!"

My mom and dad both died over the last year and it was wonderful to connect with their friends from the old days. Why wait until someone passes away!?
posted by Sabine3283 at 3:25 PM on January 1, 2011

Teachers who were especially good.
Perhaps a military pen pal?
Someone in prison?
I think the thing to do is to just start doing it and see where it goes.
Write to a company whose product you like - beer, chocolate, cookies, whatever. Tell them you like their product. Have a positive service experience, write a letter to the manager/corporate letting them know.

Me, you can write to me!

and other mefites. I bet you could organize a project in which you set up a letter exchange populated by mefites.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:25 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ask your parents who of your extended family and friends likes to exchange letters. I was recently surprised to begin a letter exchange with my late grandmother's sister, simply because she randomly asked my dad (who died last year, and so now this is especially nice) for my address and is a famous letter writer in the family. Also, because she exchanges so many letters with so many different family members, and in her dotage is shameless in her willingness to get involved in people's business, she is also a notorious gossip. Her letters are so hot with gossip they practically burst into flames when I open them. So, who is the letter writer/gossip well in your larger family? Find out who that person is and that's a letter/month right there.
posted by rumposinc at 3:31 PM on January 1, 2011

You can write to me! I love receiving (and sending) snail mail.
posted by janepanic at 3:31 PM on January 1, 2011

Response by poster: A personal preference: I'd rather not write mefites. I've taken part in other random writing projects, like, and that's not what I want to do here.
posted by DisreputableDog at 3:33 PM on January 1, 2011

Prisoners. They'll be thrilled to get mail, and many of them will write you back. If you're a lefty, you can find a good database of people to write to here.
posted by streetdreams at 3:34 PM on January 1, 2011

When something exceptional happened in your day, write one to yourself.
posted by Cuspidx at 3:35 PM on January 1, 2011

Continuing on from streetdreams' point, perhaps consider joining Amnesty International? Could provide some useful direction for some of your letters.
posted by biffa at 3:36 PM on January 1, 2011

As Letters of Note frequently shows, it's very surprising how often famous people (most frequently, it seems, writers or cartoonists) will write back to fans.

However, I'd argue it's more important to help out with Amnesty's letter writing campaigns, to write to your political representative about issues that matter to you (is there a US equivalent of TheyWorkForYou?), or to write to prisoners.
posted by turkeyphant at 3:37 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you like a product or service you've been using for years, write a letter to the company and tell them so. If you like a brand new product or service - do the same. I'm sure that it will make someone's day to get a letter praising their service rather than a complaint or request for a refund/replacement.

If someone was nice to you over the last year (repairman/salesperson/whatever) and went above and beyond the call of duty, write a letter to the company and tell them you appreciate that person's services.

If you enjoy a magazine, write the editor and let them know how much and why.

Of course, you can do the opposite of all these things and write complaining letters but I think it's better to praise than complain. But that's just me.
posted by patheral at 3:37 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

My first thought was prisoners, but you could also try random mail/swap sites. Some of my favorites are Postcrossing (postcards only, but you can write a letter and include it with the postcard), Swapbot (which has lots of letter swaps, so you will definitely get a letter in return but not necessarily from the person you wrote to) and (which gives you random profiles and addresses for random acts of kindness/mailing). If you're concerned about having your address available to strangers, I've been a part of these websites and others like them for over 5 years and I've never heard of anything bad happening.
posted by shoreline at 3:37 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like to write compliment letters (as opposed to complaint letters) when I've received exceptional service. I like to let the big bosses know how much I appreciate the checkout chick who is unfailingly warm and friendly or the staff member who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to get the thing I want but can't find. And as a part-time mystery-shopper, I know staff are often rewarded when their excellence is pointed out, with movie tickets or gift cards or whatever.

(I worked at a taxi call centre years ago and received a thank-you letter like that within about a month of starting the job. I will never forget the thrill I got when the letter was printed in our staff newsletter.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:38 PM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oops, just saw your reply about Postcrossing - sorry!
posted by shoreline at 3:39 PM on January 1, 2011

How about you write encouraging and reassuring letters to gay kids, and contrive to drop them all at once, from a rented helicopter, over an anti-gay reprogramming camp?

(I bet you can find donations to cover the cost of the helicopter; I'd chip in.)
posted by foursentences at 3:51 PM on January 1, 2011

Response by poster: ......there are anti-gay reprogramming camps?

I wouldn't write, um, letters to throw out in a kind of dead drop as in a secret mission or something, but jeez.

Websites and addresses for these kinds of things are helpful, also, I note.
posted by DisreputableDog at 3:56 PM on January 1, 2011

Contact a nursing home. There are probably many residents there that miss receiving "old fashioned" letters. I know that getting mail was a highlight of my Grandma's day when she was in an assisted living facility. Many older people, however, don't have people that write them. I think that they would appreciate some letters, and you could probably get some good stories and wisdom form them.
posted by Ostara at 4:01 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Write to a veteran at a hospital. If you've had a loved one in a hospital recently and experienced above-and-beyond care from any personnel, write their supervisor a letter. (I just recently did this for two of the aides that helped care for my Dad while he was on the rehab floor, and they couldn't thank me enough. Such letters go in their files and apparently can be helpful during salary reviews.) Write a letter to the manufacturer of a particular product with praise and/or questions about it (I once wrote to Vlasic with a question about the history of their spokes-stork) and you'll likely receive some coupons for free or discounted product in response.
posted by Oriole Adams at 4:32 PM on January 1, 2011

Writing to your favorite former teachers will brighten their day.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:38 PM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

You could write letters to the corporate center of whatever retail store/restaurant you frequent and get good service, or simply that a salesperson smiled at you, or was helpful or whatever. Maybe make it a mission to seek out pleasant people and use your letter writing adventure to let their higher ups know how great of a job they're doing.
posted by katypickle at 6:21 PM on January 1, 2011

Do you know a foreign language, at least enough to write a letter? You may be able to find a penpal who wants to practice English.
posted by CathyG at 6:32 PM on January 1, 2011

Response by poster: I don't know any foreign languages.
posted by DisreputableDog at 6:34 PM on January 1, 2011

Kids at St. Jude.
posted by raisingsand at 7:52 PM on January 1, 2011

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