Service Sparks: Gratitude Pen Pals

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Act of Generosity
Letter Writing
Pay it Forward
Ignite meaningful action that lights up the world through "Service Sparks" youth projects! Help people look on the bright side by writing gratitude pen pal letters.


Ignite meaningful action that lights up the world through "Service Sparks" youth projects!


Maybe you have heard this quote, "Happiness doesn't make us grateful; gratitude makes us happy." Now it is your turn to brighten others' days by focusing on things we can be thankful for, like health, family, and pets. Write gratitude letters to your friends and send them in the mail. Getting a letter is a bright spot in anyone's day. Maybe you'll get one back. 


  1. Make a list of people you like that you don't get to see every day. These are your potential pen pals. 
  2. Get a piece of writing paper and start the pen pal letter with the date and an opener like this: "Dear ______, I miss seeing you. Let's be pen pals."
  3. First paragraph: Write three things you are grateful for. They can be about that person or anything in your life: little things or big things. "I am grateful for these three things."
  4. Second paragraph: Ask your pen pal a question about them. It might be as simple as, "What are you grateful for?" Then write, "Please write back."
  5. Sign the letter, address the envelope (with supervision for younger children), put a stamp on it and mail it. Be sure to include your address so you get a letter back. 
  6. Keep letters short and simple, and write back as soon as you get a reply. 
  7. Consider adjusting this project to include pictures or videos as a form to express gratitude.
  8. Learn more with a Learning to Give lesson Deliver Gratitude Day

Reflection: Sometimes it can be hard to think of things you are grateful for. Reflect with your family at the dinner table about these questions: What things are going well at our house? Does expressing gratitude make you feel better? Why do you think the pen pal letter might have helped your friend?   

Explore more Service Sparks projects:


Learning to Give ... 

  • educates youth about philanthropy, the civil society sector, and the importance of giving their time, talent and treasure for the common good (knowledge),
  • equips youth by encouraging philanthropic behavior and experience (skills), and,
  • empowers youth to take voluntary citizen action for the common good in their classrooms, lives and communities (behavior).