“How can I help?”

Back in March, that question played on repeat, bouncing around my head day after day, week after week. All around me, it felt like the sky was falling. Covid-19 was spreading exponentially throughout the country. Seemingly overnight, the economy went from roaring into recession. My small business, Good Juju Ink—the business that my wife and I spent years growing—went from our best quarter of all time to a screeching halt in the span of two weeks. Perhaps most alarmingly, there was no end in sight.

With each news headline, I felt more and more helpless. Helpless for my fellow small businesses. Helpless for parents navigating a school-less, daycare-less world for the foreseeable future. Helpless for frontline workers—healthcare, custodial, food services—all of those putting themselves in harm’s way to keep society functioning during this awful pandemic.

As the owner of a stationery business, I couldn’t make PPE for healthcare workers. I couldn’t create ventilators. I couldn’t stop the spread of this awful virus, nor could I soften its blow on the economy. But as I kept asking myself, “how can I help?”, I slowly realized there WAS something I could do. Something we could ALL do.

Spread Gratitude. Spread Love. Spread Positivity.

As the owner of a greeting card company, I realized that we were in a beautifully unique position to lead with gratitude. You might even say that our business—encouraging people to send handwritten notes—is built upon gratitude. Gratitude isn’t a vaccine for Covid-19, nor is it a loan to pay next month’s rent. But in these trying times, gratitude is something we all need. It’s hope. It’s safe connectivity. It’s a hug for the soul.

In today’s technology-infused, fast-paced, smartphone-wielding society, writing a letter is not top of mind in the same way that it was, perhaps, a few decades prior. Yet if you’ve ever received a handwritten card, you know that this seemingly small gesture has a massive impact. It’s a wonderfully human point of connection between the sender and the receiver, and something one can accomplish with merely a pen and a piece of paper. It’s simple to do, and it conveys an outsized dose of gratitude.

Back to that question: “How can I help?”

In April, alongside 13 other stationery companies, we launched 18 Million Thanks, a campaign encouraging people to send handwritten thank you notes to America’s 18 million healthcare workers. Since then, 50+ greeting card companies and 60+ hospitals have partnered with us, and together we’ve inspired people to send more than 10,000 handwritten thank you notes.

We launched 18 Million Thanks to express gratitude to these incredible frontline workers—as a way for all of us to help our fellow humans during this crisis. As Covid-19 continues to ravage the country, we’re taking our gratitude a step further. Today, in honor of International Self-Care Day and National Minority Mental Health Month, and in collaboration with #FirstRespondersFirst, we are announcing 18K for 18 Million Thanks.

The goals of 18K for 18 Million Thanks are simple but impactful: send 18,000 thank you notes to support the hearts of our frontline healthcare workers + raise at least $18,000 to support their mental health, as well. We’re specifically supporting mental health efforts for frontline workers in BIPOC communities, which have been especially hard-hit by the pandemic. We hope to achieve both goals by August 31st.

We hope you will participate by writing a thank you note, making a tax-deductible contribution to our GoFundMe, or both. If you’re not sure where to send your letter, visit 18 Million Thanks for a list of 60+ hospital addresses. For those interested in learning more about the work of our partner charity, #FirstRespondersFirst, you can find great information here.

I am well aware of the difficult times we are all experiencing, which is why I am beyond grateful for your time, and thoughtful consideration of this initiative. On behalf of 18 Million Thanks and #FirstRespondersFirst, thank you!

Now grab a pen, host a socially distant writing party, and let’s get to 18,000 and $18,000!


  • Ryan Kissick

    Cofounder of Good Juju Ink, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist

    Avid scuba diver, wildlife photographer, and raised alongside the oceans and mountains of the Sunshine State, Ryan is obsessed with all things nature. He also loves writing, data, and growing small businesses, including the company his wife founded, Good Juju Ink. Back when he was a competitive athlete (many moons ago), Ryan attended Stanford University. He originally planned on staying for four years. More than a decade later, he finally left with three degrees (BA, MS, MBA), plus three years of experience as a professional writer, crafting business case studies focused on entrepreneurship. At home, you’ll likely find Ryan engaged in some awkward dancing with his 1-year-old daughter. Ryan loves exploring and learning new things, although he hates cilantro. If you meet up for a meal (post pandemic, that is), please hold the cilantro.