A mother-son-daughter team sets out to be a pal to kids who could use a little extra love.
If you’re on Facebook, it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ve seen the posts written by parents whose kids, say, send a dozen birthday party invitations to school only to end up with few (if any) RSVPs. Jessica Cohn, a mom of 10-year-old twins in Vaughan, Ont., takes these posts—and those about bullies and kids feeling friendless—to heart. “I feel so badly for these kids—I hate the thought of a child feeling lonely at any time, but especially on their birthday,” she says. “So I told my kids about these posts and they immediately wanted to help.”
Last fall, Cohn and her 10-year-old twins, Jeremy and Tamara, sat down to brainstorm and came up with a great idea—the three decided they’d start sending birthday cards, filled with positive messages, to kids who needed it most. “We wanted to let them know we’re cheering for them. We also began sending out what we call ‘kindness cards,’ which are encouraging cards for kids who are bullied.”
This selfless initiative is dubbed The Friend Send, and it's been well received since its inception last fall. When word got about the Cohn’s’ project, the requests came pouring in, and others wanted to get involved and spread the love. It wasn’t something she thought about, but Cohn quickly started a Facebook group (it now has more than 250 followers) so folks could join in.
Parents who have little ones 12 and younger (the twins thought it was important for their cards to go to peers their age) can send a request for warm wishes for their kids. The family take great care when it comes each card; they write special personalized messages before decorating with stickers and sticking on stamps. “Every card means something to us; every kid means something to us. It’s never just ‘another card,’ Cohn says. And if parents are comfortable with other members of the Facebook group participating (the more the merrier, right?), Cohn will give out the age and first name of the child, then has them mail their card to her post-office box and she forwards them on.
The great news is The Friend Send has taken off and the family has been super busy since October—they’ve mailed more than 300 cards across the country. While Jeremy and Tamara have learned (and have taught their peers) the importance of showing and sharing compassion and consideration, Cohn says adults have really taken to the project. “There’s seemingly no end to the kindness and generosity of people who want to help. Many of our Facebook members are parents whose child received a card from us, and now they want to pay it forward by writing to another child,” she says. “That’s the best feeling of all; it’s a continuous cycle.”