Brighten the holiday season by sending a card to people in local shelters

Get creative — or put those leftover holiday cards to good use.

Cards from the first year of the Be a Voice campaign

Cards from the first year of the Be a Voice campaign

courtesy of voices of hope
MJ Slaby

Updated, 3:45 p.m.

Whether you have a few leftover cards or are looking for a reason to send handmade cards, a local organization is offering a way to put those cards to use.

Dubbed “Be a Voice this Holiday Season,” the project by Voices of Hope collects signed holiday cards with messages of encouragement to send to those in domestic and sexual violence shelters across the region.

Kristine Irwin, the founder of Voices of Hope, said that as a survivor of rape herself, she knows how alone and isolated someone can feel during that trauma. And a card is a little reminder that someone out there is thinking about them and believes in them, especially at the holidays, she said.

Card writers and Irwin never know the names of the people who receive the cards.

Irwin, who recently wrote a book about her experience after she was raped as a college student, said she learned about a similar project in Texas and that inspired her to start it here about three years ago. She works with organizations and local high schools and colleges who make cards but said individuals can submit cards as well.

Irwin then reaches out to shelters and sends as many cards as they need. This year, she said she expects to have more than 800 cards to send to shelters from Pittsburgh to Erie to Central Pa., as well as in Ohio.

Currently, 20 shelters are will receive cards, but Irwin said she’d love to send to 25 to 30 total.

To donate cards, email Irwin with the subject line “card campaign”  by Friday, Dec. 14. She said she’ll work with card donors on the best way to collect them. Voices of Hope fundraises throughout the year to pay for the postage.

“It’s all about spreading kindness to those who need it over the holidays,” she said.

More places to send cards

Do you know of other area organizations asking for signed holiday cards? Let us know.

  • A terminally ill teen from central Pa. is asking for holiday cards. Read his story in the Centre Daily Times and send him a card: Maddox Hyde 333 Ohio St., Reynoldsville, PA, 15851.
  • Send cards to patients at Allegheny General and Forbes hospitals by contacting the volunteer office at 412-359-3067 or [email protected].  Volunteers are glad to pass out the cards, and it’s really meaningful to patients, Patti Lane, systems director for volunteer resources at Allegheny Health Network, told The Incline.