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Meet Iris Lai and Vedha Vaddaraju, founders of Letters of Gold

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
In April, near the beginning of the pandemic, I texted one of my best friends, Vedha, and asked her if she wanted to help me give back to the community and spread love during such a rough time. We came up with a plan and, in two days, we were ready to launch Letters of Gold. We wanted to make writing letters as accessible as possible, so we created a website that allows anyone across the world to write and submit letters to different groups of people in need every month. So far, we have sent around 950 letters across the nation and to Canada to healthcare workers, teachers, cancer patients, and, most recently, domestic abuse survivors. We have also received letters from countries such as India and Germany. We couldn’t have done this without help from our board of directors and outreach team, and we’re so grateful for them. Recently, we have also started chapters of Letters of Gold club in schools around Frisco and Plano. We wish to continue giving back to the community even when we’re in college.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It definitely has not been a smooth road. We had to work extremely hard to make sure the organization ran smoothly while also balancing schoolwork and other extracurricular activities. We also received a bit of backlash from other students because they assumed our organization was created for attention and college applications, so we had to ignore it and keep working towards our goals.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Vedha and I are currently still high school students, so we don’t have a professional career yet. But, that makes us stand out since not many 15/16-year-olds co-found an organization or continue to do so for so long. We’re both extremely passionate about giving back, and we aspire to become healthcare workers in the future.

How do you think about luck?
I think luck brought me and Vedha together. If I hadn’t met her in 9th grade, we would’ve never started this organization and our amazing friendship wouldn’t have bloomed. We always push each other to be the best version of ourselves and I’m very grateful for that. We’re also fortunate to have supportive teachers, friends, and family around us to guide us through our journey.

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