HuffPost: HumanKind brings you an advent calendar of kindness, celebrating good deeds and the people doing them, in order to inspire and bring hope this festive season. Find out more about the series, and uncover new stories daily here.
Earlier this year, Ruby Jones was left bed-bound after suffering a cerebrospinal fluid leak. That’s as painful as it sounds: fluid leaked from a tear in the membranes surrounding Ruby’s spinal cord, leaving her with horrendous headaches and dizziness that left her unable to stand.
The leak was caused by a condition she was born with called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which causes defects in a person’s connective tissue. While waiting for surgery, the 22-year-old spent a lot of time in bed, chatting online with other people unable to leave their homes because of disabilities or chronic conditions. It was during this time that she realised there were so many other people in her position; so many people who needed lifting up.
“I saw that there were many disabled and chronically ill people all over the world who felt isolated by their own bodies,” Jones, who lives in Exeter, tells HuffPost UK. “And I wanted to set up a project where I could potentially make these people smile and remind them they are not alone.”
So she set up Chronically Cute Cards a few months ago. It’s a project which sees her hand-make cards and send them out to strangers, free of charge. The cards vary in design, but mainly include uplifting, positive messages and cute or funny illustrations.
This Christmas she’s making festive-themed cards to bring a sprinkle of joy to those in need of a boost over winter.
So far she has made 350 cards by hand and has a backlog of 100 more to make. She pays for all of the materials from her own pocket but, as interest has grown, she has started accepting donations via PayPal to cover the cost of postage and supplies.
In some cases, people have been brought to tears by the small act of kindness and show of support. One person wrote on Jones’s Facebook page: “I’m in the middle of a super bad fibro flare and really struggling but receiving my card was definitely the little pick-me-up I needed!”
Another person who had requested a card for a friend wrote: “Thank you for cheering up my best friend when she needed it most! Such adorable artwork and sweet words. Your cards are just beautiful.”
Jones says being confined to her bed by her spinal leak was one of the most difficult things she’d ever been through. “I felt for a long time that I didn’t have a purpose, as I had to put my studies on hold during this time. Sending these cards really helped with this.”
Now in her second year at Exeter University and no longer bed-bound, she continues to make the cards for other people. It’s a process she finds therapeutic.
“Not only do I get so much joy from actually making and writing them, it is also a great thing to keep me busy on the days I have to spend in bed due to my illnesses,” she says.
“Disability can be so difficult – whether feeling lonely or just struggling to live with a diagnosis or illness. In my opinion it is very important to find things that make you smile.
“Hopefully by sending these cards, I can make people who are struggling feel a little better.”
HumanKind is HuffPost’s celebration of kindness, featuring people who do incredible things for others or the planet – transforming lives through small but significant acts. Get involved by joining us on Facebook. You can also nominate those who deserve to be shouted about by filling in this form or emailing email@example.com.