Grace Berbig is the founder and president of Letters of Love, a global nonprofit that aims to change the world through handwritten cards. It all began in October 2018, when she started a club at Orono High School to honor her mother, who passed away after a battle with leukemia when Berbig was just 10. Today, the Minnesota change maker has grown Letters of Love from a local club to an international operation. We spoke with the now 21-year-old to learn about her inspiration, the growing organization’s impact and ways to get involved.
How did Letters of Love come to be?
When I was 10 years old, my mom was diagnosed with leukemia. Throughout her battle, my two little sisters and I wrote cards and drew pictures for her constantly. I remember vividly how much joy those notes brought her and how simple it was to give her love and support while she was in the hospital. A year later, she lost her battle with cancer, and I promised myself I’d dedicate my life to making a positive impact on the lives of those battling cancer and other serious illnesses.
During my junior year of high school, I decided to create a club at Orono High School where students could gather and craft notes for patients at Children’s Minnesota. Our first meeting was so telling of the future of Letters of Love; more than 100 students packed into our little art room. We had to relocate to the cafeteria, and by the end of that year, we were the largest student club. The following year, we officially became a nonprofit and hosted our first teen gala. Since then, we’ve grown exponentially with more than 115 clubs in 17 countries and 175,000+ cards sent to patients in children’s hospitals worldwide.
What’s your most memorable moment since starting the nonprofit?
My most significant moment was speaking with a mother whose six-year-old son had received our letters. She shared that he’d been in a boating accident and lost two of his limbs, but after receiving Letters of Love cards, he completely changed his mentality around treatment. He hung the messages around his room, and seeing them every day made him feel so much more positive in his journey. I remember this mother tearing up and thanking me over and over. I went home and cried for probably an hour — it was the first time I realized Letters of Love is genuinely helping children.
How can supporters contribute to Letters of Love?
One of the most beautiful things about Letters of Love is that anyone can be a part of it! We accept cards from families, groups and individuals. Businesses can donate to ensure we can continue operating cost-free for all members or partner with us on card workshops. High-school and college students can join an existing club or start a new one. We’re always in need of financial contributions or in-kind donations of crayons, markers, paper and stamps.
Your third annual gala is coming up in June. Can you tell us more?
The Letters of Love Gala is Thursday, June 15, at the Nicollet Island Pavilion. Everyone is invited to join. From 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., we’ll be making cards, friendship bracelets, paintings and tie blankets for patients in local and national children’s hospitals. We’ll also hear stories from patients who have received letters. The event features an adult bounce house, hors d’oeuvres, a jazz quartet, lawn games, photo booths, a raffle and many more exciting activities. The teen-only dance party begins at 10 p.m., celebrating our high-school and college students and the achievements of Minnesota clubs over the past year. It’ll be a beautiful evening of spreading love and kindness. We’d love for our community to join for a fun family night out!
What other exciting projects are on the horizon?
We’re always working on something exciting! Letters of Love is growing astronomically — and quickly — so we’re partnering with businesses to raise seed money for our first paid employee. We’re also working on a children’s book that will teach youth about the importance of kindness and the impact of letters.