Johnson spreads hope through writing letters
STILWELL – Cherokee Nation citizen Ellie Johnson won the 2020 Seven Feathers award in the community category by taking a small idea and bringing a community of people together through writing letters.
Ellie, 7, is a second grader at Rocky Mountain School. With the help of her mother, Jennifer Johnson, they started Ellie’s Hope Factory as a way to help people stay connected and spread hope when the COVID-19 pandemic started earlier this year and people were not able to meet face to face.
Unable to meet with her friends for play dates and dealing with the mandated school closures back in March, Jennifer suggested that Ellie start writing letters.
“Ellie’s Hope Factory started when I was missing friends and family and I couldn’t talk to them in person, so I started writing letters and I really liked it so I kept writing,” Ellie said.
Jennifer said she gave Ellie supplies to start her lettering-writing venture and Ellie began writing to friends and family and “anybody she could think of to write to.”
“She started asking the people at the end of the letters if they would write back to her,” Jennifer said. “So she has gotten several letters in the mail and is super excited every day to check the mail and see what she’s gotten.”
Ellie’s Hope Factory started on Facebook shortly after the letter writing began and it was a way for them to reach out to more people and encourage them to begin their own letter writing campaigns.
Ellie has since gained a multitude of friends she has met through her endeavors that encourage her to keep doing what she is doing.
Stilwell Middle School teacher Karen Ford, who knows Ellie from church, was inspired by the second grader’s efforts.
“Ellie inspires me because as a little girl, she gets it,” Ford said. “Where I think sometimes us as adults have forgotten what it’s all about. We get busy in life and we don’t make those connections with people. We don’t reach out to people. We text, we tweet, we instant message. But that a little girl could take just a small idea and turn it into something as big as she has, we could all use an Ellie in our lives.”
Since the Ellie’s Hope Factory began, Ellie and Jennifer have held contests on the Facebook page. Ellie has gotten her own post office box, and they are working on a project for the nursing home.
“We’re still writing letters and we’re working on a project for the nursing home with coloring sheets so they can hang them in their room,” Ellie said. “And I’ve already sent out a whole big packet and we will be sending out more.”
On winning the award, Ellie said she thanks those who have helped her along the way.
“I’d like to thank the people who wrote to me and the people who are writing to spread hope,” she said. “I’d like to thank the Cherokee Phoenix for this award. It is very special to me.”