In response to the demonstrations of hate in Charlottesville in early August, several local agencies started a campaign called “#DearYoungPerson” to send messages of love and support to the youth of the town. Students at Catholic University joined in on this initiative this past week and wrote cards to let the youth of Charlottesville know how valuable, strong, and loved they are.
Agencies in the nearby area, like the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Virginia, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville, and the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization of the Central Blue Ridge all banded together with the intent of making sure that images of hate, bigotry, and violence would not be embedded into the hearts of Charlottesville’s children. On the campaign’s website, the mission is to direct the narrative going forward: “Let’s sow seeds of love and tolerance.”
The Office of Student Conduct at Catholic first got involved and then encouraged other student organizations to participate in sending positive energy. The office remained a presence at the tables in the Pryzbyla Center and offered chances to contribute to the campaign throughout the week. To participate, students grabbed a card and wrote words of support in examples like “You are loved” and “We stand with you.” By the end of the shortened week of classes, more than a few hundred cards were written to be sent to the youth of Charlottesville.
Zanas Talley, a senior politics major and student assistant in the Office of Student Conduct, pointed out that his boss, the associate director of the office Sarah Williamson, came upon the campaign and proposed that it would be a great thing to get involved in. Talley points out that this was a programmatic initiative from the Dean of Students Office to connect with the campus community.
“The Office wanted to engage students in a morally-conscious way and saw this as a great opportunity to do that and direct some good energy in that direction,” Talley said.
Many student organizations were given cards to write messages of love as well. The hashtag “DearYoungPerson” features the thousands of supportive cards and equally grateful grade school teachers and parents in the Charlottesville area on social media. As the campaign’s website points out, “It’s impossible to show too much love and support.”
Talley brought the initiative into his own residence hall of Opus as a Resident Assistant to see if his residents would also join in spreading positive messages to the affected youth. A solid amount of residents came to write on all of the remaining cards that Talley brought to the event. He read one in particular as an example to summarize the campaign.
“Dear Young Person, I cannot imagine what you’re going through. But God always has a plan, and I’ll be keeping all of you in my prayers.”
Postcards can be mailed to P.O. Box 814, Charlottesville, VA 22902.