Amy Hepler and her fiance found the letter when they were walking their dog in Bayfield on Monday.
“My fiance was like I don’t know if you should open it,” she said.
The letter, she discovered, included $5 and a positive message celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Mysterious letters, celebrating the holiday and carrying a bit of cash, popped up around Bayfield, Forest Lakes and other Pine River Valley communities this week. They included popular quotes attributed to the civil rights leader, drawings and encouragement to celebrate the holiday using the small monetary gift.
Hepler gave her card to her 14-year-old daughter, prompting a discussion about spreading kindness.
“She was very surprised and she thought that was a great way to spread that message,” she said. “With everything going on in our world today, it’s nice to have someone out there doing something kind for people spreading the message of inclusiveness and of Martin Luther King.”
Sarah Murphy’s 4-year-old daughter found another letter in the Forest Lakes subdivision north of Bayfield.
“The kind gesture started more conversations about what the day is meant for between myself and my 3 little girls,” she said in a social media post. “I could go on about the deeper meaning of this gesture and the importance of civil rights to our family however it gets incredibly personal, so please know it meant a great deal to us.”
Joanne Graves found a letter at Lake Simpatico in Forest Lakes with $2 and left it, hopefully, for a child to find.
“With everything going on in the world, even knowing what to expect, it was still heartwarming to know that someone out there wanted to make a stranger’s day brighter,” she said in an email to The Durango Herald.
Whoever was leaving the letters was a mystery to most.
“I think what it brings is a sense of mystery and kindness, and I think that’s what we need,” said Katie Sickles, town manager. “I think right now, there’s too much noise about our differences, and it can be very traumatizing in a lot of ways. ... We don’t have to know who it’s from – just having kindness in this time is refreshing.”
The letter writers were members of the Los Pinos Anti-Racism Project, a group of Pine River Valley residents who advocate for equal treatment for all residents in the valley.
“We’re trying to center Martin Luther King, Black voices, the historic movement of civil rights in this country, and additional moves we need to make,” said Emily Jensen, a member of the group. “We just wanted to be able to spread Martin Luther King’s message in a fun way.”