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Thursday, February 29, 2024

New UW-Madison club ‘Letters of Love’ seeks to support children battling cancer, illness

Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have started a brand new chapter of “Letters of Love” on campus, a club dedicated to writing letters to children battling cancer or other illnesses. 

The chapter is part of a greater national organization that aims to provide emotional support to children in hospitals across the country. UW-Madison’s chapter is only the second college chapter to continue the work of the original non-profit organization. 

Headed by sophomore Lucas Cates, Letters of Love was started at UW-Madison with the idea of kids supporting other kids. Cates and Vice President of Community Engagement Darby Sween originally became involved with the chapter at Orono High School in Minnesota, where it was founded by Grace Berbig. 

“[Grace] started it because she lost her mom to Leukemia at a young age and her mom loved getting handmade cards to brighten her day,” said Sween. “This inspired her to create a club that did just that: kids helping other kids by creating handmade cards to brighten their day, even just a little bit.”

Cates reiterated this view, noting the impact that handmade cards can have on those going through difficult times.  

“The idea of making a card for a child going through cancer treatment may seem trivial at first, but the fact of the matter is that these children’s most gloomy days can be upsetted and enlightened by the fact that they know someone outside of the hospital and their family is rooting for them,” Cates explained. 

Community is also formed through the club, Cates said. 

“Letters of Love UW-Madison is more than just kids making cards,” Cates stated. “We hope to support each other as much as we work to support the children we make cards for.”

At the UW-Madison chapter, Sween’s role as vice president of community engagement means she is in charge of connecting with other organizations and clubs on campus to facilitate card-making workshops for their members. According to Sween, this has been one of the most successful roles of the club thus far. 

“By working with other clubs, I have met so many fun people who come in not having any idea about Letters of Love, and leave with really positive comments and appreciating the opportunity to help those who need it,” said Sween.

As a chapter, Cates and his executive board hope to grow their membership and hopefully become one of the larger student organizations on campus. 

“We hope to advertise Letters of Love to incoming freshmen as well as to other students on campus through smaller club workshops,” said Cates.

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For those interested in getting involved, Letters of Love will be at the student organization fair on campus next year — their first as a registered organization at UW-Madison. 

“We want to bring students of many different backgrounds together to destress, have fun, listen to music and make meaningful connections while also serving an amazing cause,” said Cates. “We believe volunteer work should be something you look forward to and not just something you do because you feel obligated to. We hope to do just that.”

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