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Indiegogo campaign aims to send handwritten notes to families of Newtown victims

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For those of us who get most of our mail electronically, this is the one time of year when we actually get meaningful snail mail, in the form of holiday greeting cards. And we love them because there’s something novel about an old-fashioned, paper-and-ink card (especially if the ink comes from a pen), and because knowing that someone put in a little extra effort to send a kind message makes us feel warm and fuzzy.

So imagine how mailboxes full of handwritten cards could lift the spirits of the families whose hearts were broken last Dec. 16, when a gunman went on a shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., killing six adults and 20 young children.

That’s what Adam King thought about when he and a friend launched the Notes for Newtown campaign this week, with the one-year anniversary of the massacre approaching. King lives in Jamaica Plain and is a footwear developer at Reebok. He has no personal connection to Newtown or any of the victims’ families.

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He is, as he put it, “just an average guy who was appalled and wondered if there was something that could help.”

The idea is simple: send a ton of cards to those who lost loved ones. But King knows that most people won’t mail a card for any number of reasons. They don’t have time. They don’t have envelopes and stamps because they never use them. They don’t even know where to send a card.

Notes for Newtown aims to remove those barriers. You submit the text of your note online, and Notes for Newtown does the handwriting, stamping and mailing for you. You don’t have to write an essay. In fact, there is a 160-character limit on each message. That’s only slightly longer than a tweet.

Isn’t this effort a little late?

King and his partner, Les Charles, think the timing is actually perfect.

“After a while, the coverage goes away, but they still have to deal with it every day,” King explained. “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could do something for them a year later? To say we haven’t forgotten you.”

To pay for the paper, stamps and manpower needed to mail a boatload of cards, King and Charles are trying to raise $5,000 on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo. They estimate that will cover about 2,000 cards.

Notes for Newtown will begin taking submissions shortly after the Indiegogo campaign concludes next month. If backers exceed the goal, the extra money will go to the Newtown Memorial Fund.

And here’s one more cool thing: King told me he and Charles weren’t sure whether a crowdfunding campaign could work, but said they are regular readers of The Hive and were encouraged by stories about other successful fund-raising projects.

So all you innovators out there should be proud. You helped inspire Notes for Newtown.

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