East Texan using handwritten letters to connect with community

East Texan using handwritten letters to connect with community
Alli Grimes writes letters to strangers in hopes of spreading a little joy. (Source: KTRE)

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - One East Texan was inspired to create human connections through hand written letters.

About a month ago, Alli Grimes began writing letters to strangers. Her goal, to bring a little joy to the lives of others.

Grimes is the creator of East Texas Pen Pals.

She came across the idea of pen pal writing on social media site, Reddit. She is now a mystery match to people around the world who want to receive letters.

“When you send social media and stuff it’s instant and that’s great. That’s important, we need that, but sometimes we lose a little of our deep human connection, I think,” said Grimes. “And this is a way to bring it back, it’s got a more personal touch. You see the nuances of handwriting, where they had a thought and crossed it out, no don’t say that.”

Reddit provides users with a suggested letter-writing format.

“A brief introduction of who you are, you know your age, where you’re from, maybe some of your interests or what you do,” said Grimes. “And then you write about one thing that has made you happy recently, one thing that has upset you, or concerned you recently, and then one thing that you are looking forward to in the next couple of months.”

She credits her interest in the project to being a historian, specifically an archivist.

“Some of it is, I’m driven to have something tangible to preserve in the future because that’s how history is written,” said Grimes. “If we don’t have these things, what will they write about us in fifty, sixty, a hundred years?”

She’s already mailed ten to fifteen letters. In fact, one local recipient, she went to high school with but didn’t know it, is looking forward to getting her letter this week.

“It’s strange for me, as someone who always mails to other people,” said Erica Steed. “I’m really, really excited to actually start getting from other people and building up that network of receiving as well as giving.”

Grimes created a Facebook group, East Texas Pen Pals, with hopes to inspire local residents to connect.

“It’s great to have connections with people in Slovakia, which is where one of the people I’ve written a letter to is. Or Canada or Peru, or wherever. But we need to make connections with the people around us,” said Grimes.

She is looking forward to where this project can go, past pen and paper.

“I don’t know, it just feels like maybe the beginning of a friendship that is going to go beyond the paper,” said Grimes.

Prior to sending or receiving letters, both people correspond on Reddit to ensure a level of trust.

Users have to give an accurate address but can choose a fake name, or correspond via email.

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