1. Start with people you already know.
Put a call out on social media and see if anyone’s interested in striking up a pen palship – you’ll be surprised how many people are interested in reaching out and forging connections in these isolated times. Best of all, you likely already know the people you’ll be writing.
2. Join a Facebook group.
Worldwide Snail Mail Pen Pals, for example, has nearly 27,000 members of postal enthusiasts. Users can post a short bio in order to see who in the community might be a good fit to strike up a correspondence.
3. Look for local organizations.
A lot of cities and states already have letter-writing clubs in place – could there be one near you? In pre-pandemic times – and, hopefully, post-pandemic times as well – such groups often host meetups where members can meet, greet, and swap letter-writing supplies.
4. Check Reddit.
R/penpals is an active subreddit where people can seek out penpals with similar interests; you might also find calls to write letters to seniors, students, or other similar groups.
5. Sign up for Postcrossing.
Postcrossing is less about building long-term relationships as much as it is about exchanging postcards around the world. Every time you send a postcard to a random recipient, you’ll receive a postcard from a random sender. It works like this: When you sign up, you’ll receive a random recipient address and a Postcard ID number. When your postcard arrives, the recipient logs in your Postcard ID on the Postcrossing website; this allows your address to be deployed to another sender. The more you send, the more postcards you’ll receive.
A note about safety: It’s always safer to start with someone you know or have gotten to know online if you’re giving out your home address. But P.O. boxes are an age-old solution to protect your privacy, so if you’re serious about striking up pandemic pen pal correspondence with online users, a P.O. box might do a world of good in putting your mind at ease.