BOTETOURT COUNTY (WSLS 10) - As people across the country mourn the hundreds of acts of terrorism around the world this year, one woman in Botetourt County says it's time to fight hate with care and compassion.
Thinking of the hundreds of victims of terrorism in Paris, France, Kimberly Clay is collecting letters of love to send to people thousands of miles away.
Clay's home is now filled with thousands upon thousands of notes, letters, drawings, and designs meant to send love to victims of tragedy in Paris.
"I originally thought it was just going to be my family and friends, and then it just grew from there, and it was like no bigger, more letters," said Clay.
She mentioned her plan to several schools, churches, and businesses.
One company, chocolatepaper in downtown Roanoke, quickly got on board.
"When she called us with this, we were like sure, she came in that day, brought us things for here in the store and then we took it to our tree at Hotel Roanoke so everybody can kind of access it," said chocolatepaper co-owner Melissa Palmer.
In store, and at the company's holiday christmas tree, Palmer says they quickly received hundreds of letters.
She says everyone wants to help, and now they have a way to do it.
"It really is about that love wins, that's the whole point in what we're doing and if we can get more and more people to have that idea, to have that inclusivity, that just approach to living, then we're going to make a difference, one person at a time, one letter at a time," said Palmer.
Clay says the love she sees in these simple notes bears a sharp contrast to the response to violence she sees in the news or on social media.
"There's a lot of anger out there, and it's understandable, it's horrible things that have happened with all these shootings and the terrorist attacks, it's awful, but we don't want to become filled with hate. We need to channel that into something good, and I feel like God has put this on me, and this is a way for us to do this," said Clay.
Clay's plan is to collect as many notes as possible before the end of the month, and hopefully find a company willing to cover the shipping costs.
"I feel like a company is going to step up and do it, they're going to say yeah, you know what? We'll ship this stuff over there, and that would be awesome," said Clay.
But even if not, she also plans to deliver thousands at the end of the month to the French embassy in Washington D.C.
Clay says she will also try to get many of the notes translated before sending them abroad.
If you you or your organization would like to help write letters, Clay can be contacted at (540) 793-3793 or at firstname.lastname@example.org