Strangers Came Together To Lift Up These Peoples’ Lives

The gentle reminder that someone has a harder life than you can be motivating. But when you see the faces of some of those people– a three-year-old strapped to his chemotherapy IV, an autistic teen who has no friends, a child without a family, a widower who still talks to his late wife– they become more than hypothetical. These stories are about people who received thousands of cards from complete strangers. Some of the cards are personal; revealing aspirations and fears to a complete stranger. Some of them are creative; little children sending drawings from across the country. But all of them breathed humanity into the spirit of those who just needed someone to notice them.

The First Time She Was Ever Celebrated

Teenager Jainay sits behind a table full of her birthday cards, looking at them and smiling.
u/hypocrite4civility/ Reddit
u/hypocrite4civility/ Reddit

Jainay Locket-Rhodes lives in a foster care system called Cumberland Presbytarian Children’s Home. The facility serves children who have been neglected and abused. President and CEO Courtney Banatoski says, “Their birthdays go unnoticed, uncelebrated.”

That’s why the staff decided to request cards from those on social media. When Jainay received her 71 cards, she couldn’t believe all of these people took the time to appreciate her. She says, “There’s a lot of people that will actually care for you and sometimes I just can’t see that.” When not being cared for is your norm, it must feel really good to have so many people perform an act of kindness by sending a card.

This Veteran Survived All Of His Friends

Veteran Dwayne sits on a low stage alongside dozens of containers that are full of cards.
Wayne Thornton/ Pinterest
Wayne Thornton/ Pinterest

Sue Morse turned to social media for a simple request. Her father, World War II veteran Duane Sherman, was nearing his 96th birthday. Sue wanted the Purple Heart recipient to feel special and asked her friends to send him kind regards.

Duane has outlived most of his companions, including his wife of 57 years who passed in 2011. When 50,000 cards arrived, Duane’s response was “It [is] hard to believe.” Cards arrived from school students, prison inmates, Navy officers, even the secretary of the Navy. Duane enlisted in the navy after Pearl Harbor. After taking care of this country, US citizens showed their appreciation.

This Boy Might Not See The Age Of 7

Danny smiles while riding a colorful horse on a carousel
Danny’s Warriors/ Facebook
Danny’s Warriors/ Facebook

Danny Nickerson from Boston, Massachusetts was just five years old when he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. As a result, he was forced to leave Kindergarten. The disease is Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, and only about 10% of its victims live another 18 months.

Some little boys go crazy over firetrucks or garbage truck or police cars. For Danny, nothing beats the thrill of seeing the mail truck. So when Danny started feeling lonely because he couldn’t stay in kindergarten, his mother Carley knew just what to do.

A Celebrity Even Fell For Danny

Danny grins wide whil sitting in one of three card-carrying bins.
Danny’s Warriors/ Facebook
Danny’s Warriors/ Facebook

Since one of Danny’s favorite things to do is check the mail, Carley thought she’d ask Facebook users to help give him a month of mail for his birthday. Instead, they got more mail than most people receive through a lifetime of birthdays.

Once Danny’s 6th birthday rolled around he had received 100,000 cards. Even Justin Beiber left him a Happy Birthday post on his Facebook wall. His popularity helped the family exceed their $15,000 fundraising goal to keep Danny alive and smiling.

He Wrote Himself Birthday Cards

Karen posts photo of the cards Ollie wrote himself, alongside a post pleading for help.
Karen Jones/ Facebook
Karen Jones/ Facebook

Most fifteen-year-olds are dying to spend all their time with their friends. For Ollie Jones, he just wanted a birthday card from a friend. The autistic boy from Devon, England, struggles to communicate with others. But just because he has a hard time socializing, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t crave communication from others the same as we all do.

Ollie’s desire for social gratification manifested in the cards he wrote to himself. His mother Karen wrote on a community page that Ollie, “loves opening cards to [the] extent he’s made himself a couple.”

I’m Famous! I’m Famous!

Ollie's thousands of birthday cards are shown in tall stacks
Ellen Hoelscher/ Twitter
Ellen Hoelscher/ Twitter

Karen went on to explain that they are a small family, and Ollie’s lack of friends is such that when his birthday comes around, he receives very few cards. Her modest proposal was that if anyone has an old card in the back of a cupboard somewhere that maybe they could send it to him.

Instead, 7,000 cards arrived for Ollie. The thrilled teenager started cheering, “I’m famous, I’m famous!” The global recognition can remind Ollie that he is special in many more way than one.

He Wouldn’t Make It To Christmas

Arnold's homemade card to Jacob shows a Christmas tree and reads
Arnold Schwarzenegger/ Facebook
Arnold Schwarzenegger/ Facebook

When Jacob Thompson was five years old, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma. Four years later, the nine-year old’s disease had spread to his hip and head. The family knew that when they went into their hospital in October, it was for the last time.

Being that Jacob was not expected to make it to Christmas, his mother asked that homemade Christmas cards be mailed over in November for their early celebration of Jacob’s favorite holiday. Cards flew in from all over the world, including this one from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It Was His Lullaby To Sleep

Jacob sits beside his stuffed penguins, smiling even as he nears his last days.
Thompson Family/ Pinterest
Thompson Family/ Pinterest

In addition to Christmas cards, Jacob received stuffed penguins, which were his favorite animal, and even got to meet a real one. His mother also requested people record themselves caroling to help Jacob feel the Christmas spirit. Rob Lowe and the cast and crew of Code Black made Jacob a Christmas video.

A week after Jacob’s Christmas party, he passed on November 19th. His mother wrote, “Each and every person who sent Jacob a Christmas card, a gift, a Facebook message or video, or a prayer made a difference in the final days of his life. You brought Jacob joy.”

A Century’s Worth Of Birthday Cards

Joe holds up a sign with his request written on it.
Brookdale Midwestern/ Facebook
Brookdale Midwestern/ Facebook

Joe Cuba had a goal in mind upon nearing his hundredth birthday. He wanted to receive 100 birthday cards on his 100th birthday. While that might not seem like a difficult task, to a WWII veteran living in a retirement home, it can be.

In order to help his quest, the sales manager of his assisted living, Stephanie Veit Heimer, posted a picture of Joe holding up a sign with his request. Joe got his 100 cards, 100 times over! 10,000 cards came in from teachers and soldiers, people from all over the world, reminding Joe that even in the three digits, he’s still got it.

The Community Uplifted This Suicidal Teen

Amanda posted a photograph of her son alongside a caption explaining how he is doing.
Amanda Jane Makris/ Facebook
Amanda Jane Makris/ Facebook

George Makris is a 13-year-old with Asperger’s. The gifted boy loves music and taught himself how to play the piano. Unfortunately, his talent was overshadowed by the cruelty of others. Two years of bullying and physical assault caused George to feel suicidal.

His mother Amanda thought that being acknowledged by others would help his confidence. After a plea on Facebook, 350 cards arrived. The community even threw George a giant birthday party. Amanda posted that after all of the support, George is in a new school and has already received recognition for his talent. His nightmares are slowly becoming less frequent.

No One Showed Up To His Birthday Party

A screenshot of Amelia Lara's Facebook post reveals her account of what happened and pleads for cards for Gerald.
Amelia Lara/ Facebook
Amelia Lara/ Facebook

Amelia Lara wrote this facebook post in response to her grandson, Gerald Hamilton, facing the humiliation that so many kids fear: no one coming to his birthday. Out of the 30 children who were invited, none of them showed up. Gerald waiting for hours, hoping for just one familiar face, but because of his skull surgeries parents refused to let their children be around Gerald, who no longer has the brainpower of some of the other children.

The response to her post was 1,000 cards being sent to the compassionate 9-year-old. Amelia assured Gerald that these cards prove there are other compassionate people out there.

She Defied The Doctor’s Beliefs

Olivia lifts her face towards the camera while holding a card that reads: sweet, sweet girl! Happy Birthday!
Fight for Olivia/ Facebook
Fight for Olivia/ Facebook

Remember sweet Jacob, the boy who had to celebrate Christmas early because he was losing his battle with stage 4 neuroblastoma? This sweet pea has the same disease. Only she was diagnosed at just 13 months old.

Oliva Enderle has defied the odds of her horrid disease, living to see her eighth birthday. With a disease that doctors were sure would have taken her life by now, every birthday is exceptional. In order to help Olivia feel that way, her mother Emily created a Facebook post asking that people send her some love via birthday cards.

Celebrating A Fighter

Olivia holds a birthday card to her chest while sitting at a table covered with more cards.
Fight for Olivia/ Facebook
Fight for Olivia/ Facebook

Olivia received 6,000 cards for her birthday in response to Emily’s post, which was posted only two weeks before Olivia’s birthday. Olivia particularly liked the silly cards, like the cat ones that meow Happy Birthday.

The joy was infectious. Emily told Fox News that even the UPS guy couldn’t stop smiling. After 8 rounds of chemo in 282 consecutive days, a kidney transplant, and doctors encouraging the family to enjoy what little time they have left, receiving positivity from around the world must feel like a huge relief to this little girl.

This Boy Has Multiple Health Issues He’s Battling

Bubby smiles while crouching into an empty box.
Coach Steve/ Twitter
Coach Steve/ Twitter

Amongst nine-year-old Bubby Everson’s illnesses are autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, deafness, and scoliosis. His parents wanted to make the most of his birthday, a relieving celebration compared to an otherwise uphill journey.

The family ended up receiving 14,000 cards from around the world in addition to 3,000 packages. Some of the packages even included custom paintings from complete strangers. Bubby especially loves all of the stickers he’s received, which his mom says is enough to cover their entire house.

His Battle Has Just Begun

Freddie holds a book open in his lap and looks up smiling while he receives chemotherapy.
Team Freddie/ Facebook
Team Freddie/ Facebook

Freddie Taylor is a sweet boy with down syndrome who loves to dance and hug, according to Wis News. His charismatic style is characteristic of this boy’s outgoing personality. It was only a few months ago that the toddler was diagnosed with leukemia, and things haven’t been the same.

According to his doctors at MUSC Children’s Hospital, his treatment will last another two years or more. Though his parents and siblings remain by his side, the battle has only just begun.

It’s Only Been Five Months

Freddie leans his nearly bald head on his mother's shoulder, looking downwards with a straight face.
Team Freddie/ Facebook
Team Freddie/ Facebook

Freddie’s mom, Joanne Taylor, told Wis News, “It feels like it’s been forever, but it’s only been five months. We still have a long way to go.” Freddie’s hair has fallen out from the chemotherapy and he started his third year of life by beginning his fifth round of chemotherapy.

Despite it still being early, the family has utilized their Facebook page “Team Freddie”. Joanne asked for birthday cards for Freddie’s third birthday, and the response was overwhelming.

They Gave Him Back His Smile

Freddie looks up with a huge grin while sitting one a mat surrounded by cards.
Team Freddie/ Facebook
Team Freddie/ Facebook

Almost 6,000 cards came in from all over the country. Though doctors say he has to be in remission for five years before he can be “cured”, the look on his face while he sifts through his cards shows he still has the spirit of a healthy little boy.

His family says that Freddie loves to read, so they open the cards and read them together. The South Carolina family is overjoyed at the love and support of their community.

The Sound Of Mail Is His Daily Highlight

Widower Gerard sits on the couch beside his daughter Sue.
Becky Brooks/ Pinterest
Becky Brooks/ Pinterest

Gerard Dunn was 91 years old when his wife passed in March 2019. After so many years spent with her, it’s taking some getting used to being alone most of the time. He told CTV News that, “[hearing the mail signal] helps because there are lots of times during the day… I find myself talking to her,” referring to a picture of his late wife, Ellen.

Knowing that her dad needed company, she tweeted asking her followers to please mail her father “a note, card, picture, map, or story.” Let’s check out the amazing results…

Cards From Around The World

Cards for Gerard crafted from colorful construction paper overlay one another
Jennifer Casa-Todd/ Twitter
Jennifer Casa-Todd/ Twitter

As users started taking to social media to reveal what they sent to Gerard, more and more decided to jump on the bandwagon. Before long he was getting cards from South Africa, the U.K., Australia, and Spain. His daughter Sue was speechless, saying, “There’s no way I can thank them.”

A teacher from Ontario posted the above photo, showcasing her students who hand-made cards for Gerard. While these students’ cards are certainly heartfelt, one student from Montreal took the cake.

This Family Opened Up To Gerard

John's card lays open on a table next to a photograph of the his family.
John Robert Sylliboy/ Twitter
John Robert Sylliboy/ Twitter

John Sylliboy wished Gerard a happy birthday in his indigenous language, Mi’kmaq. The doctoral student is originally from Eskasoni First Nation and currently resides in Montreal where he attends McGill University. He calls it his “dream school” and expresses his excitement to Gerard.

John finishes his letter by saying that he hopes to meet Gerard and Sue, who he says is a wonderful daughter for connecting Gerard with the world. Along with blessings and wishes, the card held a photograph of John’s family. Perhaps Gerard can find a new companion in a pen pal.