18 Million Thanks Aims to Send a Thank You Card to Every Healthcare Worker in the US

When's the last time you sent a snail-mail thank-you note? For some, these handwritten cards are reminiscent of grade-school birthday parties and wedding celebrations. But a new campaign spearheaded by 13 women-led small stationery companies aims to bring the thank-you note back in a big way. The initiative is called 18 Million Thanks, and its goal is an ambitious one: to send a handwritten thank you note to all 18 million healthcare workers in the United States.

"COVID and the racial reckoning throughout this country right now have made a lot of things feel very trivial, but this industry and campaign offer one of the few things that remain relevant: honest, meaningful connection," Ali O'Grady, the CEO of eco-friendly greeting card company Thoughtful Human and a participant in the campaign, told POPSUGAR. "While we were all quick to rally around healthcare heroes during weeks one, two, and three, 18 Million Thanks reminds us that the challenges for frontline workers persist month after month."

"While we were all quick to rally around healthcare heroes during weeks one, two, and three, 18 Million Thanks reminds us that the challenges for frontline workers persist month after month."

The 18 Million Thanks campaign is the brainchild of Good Juju Ink, a California-based greeting card company led by illustrator Juliana Tyson Kissick. The premise is simple: participants are asked to either purchase a thank-you card from one of the campaign's small stationery companies, or make their own at home. They can then write a message of thanks to a healthcare worker in their own life, or address their note to an employee at one of the campaign's 63 participating hospitals in the US and Canada.

"When I read their letters, I often get very emotional, and it reaffirms why I went into medicine," Stephen Benirschke, MD, of Seattle, WA, wrote in a testimony on the campaign's website. "There is nothing more satisfying for a physician to be able to care for someone who is having a difficult time and knowing that their life is a little bit better because of what we do."

The goals of this campaign extend beyond just sending cards. Ryan Kissick, the head of operations and business development for Good Juju Ink, explained that the initiative also aims to support small stationery companies and provide a meaningful activity for families who are spending more time at home.

"To me, it's less about exactly hitting 18 million and [more about] just knowing that we're having momentum," Kissick told POPSUGAR. However, participants need not buy a card from one of the campaign's member organizations in order to participate: results are being tallied by cards sent, not cards sold. "We didn't want to make it commercially based because we want people to participate even if they want to write a letter from home," he said.

So far, the initiative has sent just under 14,000 cards, many of them through the United States Postal Service. Kissick added that supporting the postal service through its bureaucratic struggles is another goal of the campaign. "In the stationery industry, we know what a vital role USPS plays in this ecosystem and how much we appreciate the postal workers," he said. "If we can do even a small part in raising more money to help keep USPS going and contribute to their success, that would be awesome as well."

Recently, the campaign set a short-term goal of sending 18,000 letters by August 31. This goal, called 18K for 18 Million Thanks, is paired with a fundraising goal of $18,000 to support mental healthcare for BIPOC frontline workers. To participate, you can make a donation to First Responders First and check out the 18 Million Thanks website to learn how to send a snail-mail thank-you note.

"I am hoping that this simple kind act of sending a note can be continued for years to come," said campaign participant Lisa Sarmento, the CEO of Tiramisu Paperie. "A thank-you note does more than any email, text, or phone call can do. Taking that time to sit down and write a note . . . it's priceless."