Plano Teenagers Start Charity to Give Encouragement

Iris Lai and Vedha Vaddaraju co-founded Letters of Gold to send letters of encouragement to front-line workers and others in need of an emotional boost during these tough times

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Letters of Gold charity started in April when two 15-year-old friends from Plano decided they needed to do something to help people during the pandemic.

"We just see a lot of people dying due to COVID-19, or like, struggling," Letters of Gold Co-founder Iris Lai said. "So we just really wanted to be the light at the end of their tunnel."

Lai, along with her friend, Vedha Vaddaraju, built a website and asked people to write letters to front-line health care workers.

"Just through something simple like a letter, we can kind of connect people," Vaddaraju said. "We've got letters from India, Germany."

They've collected 100 letters so far and counting.

"The first time we gave the letters to people at the MD Clinic, and like, the smile on their faces is what gave us that boost to, like, continue doing what we're doing," Vaddaraju said. "The content that we get in the letter is, like, deep."

"You are important and the people around you need you," Laid said reading one letter. "I want to give you my appreciation of how brave you are to not give up hope," read another.

"That someone else is aware of what you're going through and is there to encourage you, and is there to encourage you, brings hope to so many people," Lai said.

This month they are expanding Letters of Gold to sent notes to cancer patients in the hospital who can't see visitors due to the pandemic. The girls said they hope to include domestic violence shelters and retirement homes in future letter campaigns.

"There's someone out there who cares for them," Vaddaraju said. "They're not alone."

If you would like to write a letter, there is a form on the Letters of Gold website. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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