After reading on social media about the current financial struggles facing the United States Postal Service (USPS), Amanda Glazer ’21 and her friends Christina and Sabrina Sayock were inspired to start a pen pal program to support the USPS.
Their program is designed to encourage the purchase and use of stamps while connecting people with a pen pal anywhere in the country or around the world. Participants should not be concerned about the privacy of the program, Glazer said. “There’s not anyone we don’t know getting into this,” Glazer said. The program is being shared with the Kenyon community, Temple University in Philadelphia, as well as family and friends of Glazer.
Glazer’s pen pal program comes after President Donald Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have been criticized for denying support to the USPS and accelerating its financial struggles, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The USPS will likely play a crucial role in the upcoming Presidential Election, as more voters will mail in ballots due to health concerns presented by COVID-19.
In an all-student email sent on Aug. 30, Glazer advertised an opportunity to “support the USPS…with your very own handselected pen pal!” She linked to a 14-question Google Form to make the program as streamlined as possible. Glazer also works with her collaborators to individually match each person with their pen pal. Beyond including their age and pronouns, participants have the option to list pets, secret talents, hobbies, fun facts and how frequently they’re looking to communicate with their pen pal. Glazer matches pen pals with the
As of Sept. 3, 70 people have signed up for the program, and Glazer has matched 30 pairs of pen pals. Once participants have been matched, they are sent one of two emails: “Either you get an email saying you’re the first to write, or you get an email saying to expect a letter,” Glazer said. To help kick-start the conversation, the initial emails also include similarities between the assigned pen pals.
Participation in this program will contribute funds toward the USPS, but it will also offer a chance for connection. One consequence of COVID-19 has been an overwhelming sense of isolation and, for many, issues of mental health have either emerged or intensified.
“The reason we decided to do pen pals rather than a fundraiser was because a lot of people have been really lonely, especially since many haven’t been able to go back to school,” said Glazer. “A lot of people say the reason they’re signing up is because they feel isolated, want to make a friend or just want to meet someone new.”