Each year since the fifth grade, 24-year-old Matthew Conley has given Christmas cards to every school employee in his hometown of Cleburne, each teacher, cafeteria worker, and janitor.
“I just feel teachers are underappreciated,” he said.
The tradition has continued, even though he graduated six years ago.
He says his ministry, which he calls Crossink Creations, is inspired by his Christian faith.
He gets some help from his church in Granbury, but most of it is done on his own time and at his own expense.
It takes a lot of work, which is why Conley was planning to scale back before the pandemic.
This year, he mailed more than 2,300 Christmas cards, one for every school district in Texas.
“I want them to feel valued, appreciated and loved,” he said.
That’s all he expects.
He has pretty much never gotten a response, until recently when a woman approached him at work to say thank you.
“She used to be a former cafeteria worker and that was encouraging to me there is hope out there among the chaos, there is the light that exists,” Conley said.
In a year where so many have lost so much, Conley has found at least a couple thousand reasons to be thankful.
Because of him, no teacher in Texas will spend the holiday unappreciated, from El Paso to Beaumont and Amarillo to Houston.
Reminding each of us that a kind word goes a very long way.