At 15, missionary kid Rebeca Freytes Chico moved all the way from Puerto Rico to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, so her dad could start a Hispanic church. “I left my cousin, who was my best friend,” she says now. “Since phone calls cost money, I began to write letters to her.”
Fast forward a few decades to 2009. Rebeca Freytes Chico was now Becky DePra, all grown up and raising her own family in Hornell, New York. She still enjoyed letter-writing and knew the U.S. postal service was faltering as it faced major financial problems. She asked God how she could help.
DePra got an idea: Write a letter today.
She asked God, “You want me to write a letter? NOW? How is that going to help?”
But the thought kept coming back, and WALT Day—Write A Letter Today Day—was born.
For each WALT Day, DePra chooses a person who needs encouragement—sometimes a friend and sometimes a total stranger. DePra inspires kids and adults to help her write. Then she collects the letters in a big manila envelope and sends them. DePra has directed WALT Day for 13 years. Her WALT Day group has composed over 5,000 handwritten letters.
Many of DePra’s letter recipients, including Sergeant Vimaliz Rivera, serve abroad in the U.S. military. The WALT Day writers didn’t know Rivera, but they sent her letters. Like DePra, Rivera’s family came from Puerto Rico, and the two became pen pals. Sergeant Rivera even stayed with DePra when she came to New York for an award ceremony. “What a wonderful time we had with her,” DePra says. “Lots of laughter and deep talks.”
Lindsay Seymour received a WALT Day envelope while in the swamplands of Florida training for the mission field. “We were cut off from people and technology,” Seymour says. “We hauled our own water, grew our own food—and that’s when I got ‘WALT Dayed.’”
Seymour hung the letters all over the walls by her bed. “People don’t write letters anymore. But here were these sweet letters from kids. A little breath of sunshine.” The smallest kids sent pictures they had colored. Older kids asked her questions that made her smile, like, “I have a cat. Do you have a cat?”
“I am a modern-day writer,” says DePra. “As a Christian, I am in awe that we are still reading letters written [about] 2,000 years ago! I mean, how cool is that?”
Start your own WALT Day. All you need is pens, paper, an envelope, stamps, and eyes to see people who need friendship.
Why? “Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” (Proverbs 25:25) Handwritten letters have power to encourage others.
Pray for the people you write to on your own WALT Day.