Monday, March 15, 2021

Smokey surprise!

Day 15 of 31 at TWT!
The large, lumpy, yellow-orange envelope caught my attention immediately. My eyes took in the return address label (Ohio Division of Forestry) and the addressee (Sweetie) immediately. 

The Ohio Division of Forestry?! They must've sent something in return for her picture?! 

When she decided she wanted to write to Smokey Bear to tell him she missed him because of the germs, I wasn't even sure if we'd get a letter in response. I mean, how many kids probably write to Smokey Bear, except maybe as part of an elementary school assignment or something? It's not like he's Santa! 

It was, admittedly, a super cute picture. She'd actually drawn two adorable pictures for him, and we decided to send one to the Ohio Division of Forestry and one to an address I found for kids to write to Smokey in Washington DC

She'd worked so hard to include details like his hat, pants, and belt, and to label the pictures like she's learning in kindergarten. One picture was Smokey and her in the Natural Resources Park at the Ohio State Fair (there's a huge animatronic Smokey where you can sneak over and tell the workers your child's name, and he'll say hi to your child by name! Clearly, it mesmerized her, just like it did when I was a kid!), and the other was a more detailed portrait of Smokey with a heart to show that she loves him. 

("far" = fair, as in the state fair)

I'd written a short note on the back of each to explain that my 5-year-old missed seeing Smokey at the fair and wanted to cheer him up because of COVID, so whoever opened it wouldn't be completely confused. Still, I didn't expect to receive anything back, so the lumpy envelope in front of me was a huge surprise. I couldn't wait for her to open it!

"Sweetie, you got a package!"

She grabs the envelope. "It's humongous!" She finds her name on the front.

"Do you know who it's from? The Ohio Division of Forestry!" I point to the return address label with their logo. Husband, who clearly doesn't remember that we even mailed these pictures, looks just as baffled as she does. "Do you know what they do?" 


"Forestry, like forest!"

"They help trees!"

"That's right! That's where Smokey the Bear works! Do you remember when you sent him that nice picture?"

Her eyes widen. "I think he sent me a stuffie!"

"It is a big package! Let's see what's in it!"

Those blue eyes glitter and her mouth drops open as she pulls something out. "It is! It's a new Smokey!!!" She hugs it immediately, pressing it up against her face. 

"It looks like there's more in there!" Husband gestures toward the package, and sure enough, he's right! She maintains her open mouth and sparkling eyes as she pulls out a Smokey Bear multi-purpose cloth, a miniature Smokey license plate for her bike, and a handwritten note: 

"Hi Sweetie! We received your wonderful drawing! Smokey loved it! He wanted to send you some cool items as a token of appreciation. 

Stay safe!

Smokey Bear & The Ohio Division of Forestry"

What a big surprise!

"Smokey really loves me!!!" she exclaims. "He loves me so much!"

"And your drawing must have made him so happy! Isn't it nice to do something kind?! And look, sometimes when you are kind, a good thing happens to you!"

Unprompted, Rainbow Girl starts singing "You can choose to be kind..." from Daniel Tiger.

Thank you, random worker(s?) at the Division of Forestry, for having a heart for children! <3


  1. What a thrill it must have been! It’s a great story to remember and retell!

  2. That's awesome! What a great example of the power of a written/drawn message.

  3. I'm not even sure where to start since I loved reading this so much! First, she sent a photo and a letter. Second, THEY ANSWERED HER. Third, they gave her an incredible care package. LOVE-LOVE-LOVE this!


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