(12/21/2001) When the call is made to help a child in need, few can resist the urge. However, our emotionally charged response to chains like this one may lead us to undo the very good we were trying to accomplish.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
FAITH HOEMSPINE, A 5 YEAR OLD IN CINCINNATI, OHIO IS LOSING HER BATTLE WITH CANCER. FIATH HAS LOST BOTH ARMS AND BOTH LEGS IN HER STRUGGLE. HER LAST WISH IS TO BE THE ONE TO RECEIVE THE MOST "GET WELL CARDS" ANYONE HAS EVER BEEN SENT. THE FAMILY IS NOT ASKING FOR DONATIONS, JUST A SIMPLE GET WELL CARD.
While they are passed on with the grandest of intentions, chains like this one actually cause a great deal of harm. I contacted the Shriners Burn Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio and was told that they are overwhelmed with calls for more information. They have even set up a voicemail center to handle the calls (they've received as many as 27 calls in 10 minutes). Here's the message callers are given:
"Thanks for calling Shriners and asking about cards for Faith. Faith was a patient at our hospital a few years ago and is currently doing just great at home with her family. She never wanted to receive get well cards or Christmas cards from the public. We really appreciate you looking into this and your willingness to help out, but please don't send cards or packages. It would be a great help to us if you could share this information with your original source."
Louise C. Hoelker, RN, MHA
Director, Volunteers & Public Relations
Shriners Burns Hospital, Cincinnati
3229 Burnet Ave., 45229
Organizations like the Shriners hospital must divert precious time and resources to deal with the amazing volume of mail, e-mail and telephone traffic these chains generate. Instead of doing a good dead, forwarding this chain may have the exact opposite effect. Because of the strain they cause on the resources of those targeted by them, the Guinness Book no longer recognizes the record of most get-well cards. The following is from their web site and refers to a decades-old chain letter on which the Faith letter appears to be based:
This record attempt has ceased. Many years ago, a boy fighting cancer started a campaign for people to send him get-well messages in order to set a record for the most items received. Not only was that boy successful in getting a mention in the 1991 edition of the Guinness World Records book, he also made a full recovery. However, since then chain mails have started up with variations on the original story, some requesting business cards or compliments slips rather than get-well messages. If you get any such request, please destroy it, and if anyone asks you about it, please tell them it is a hoax!
Unfortunately, letters like this one appeal to our emotions and we often act before we think. That's why they usually survive and flourish for a very long time. Break this Chain!