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Joanna Sherrard has enjoyed writing letters and sending cards since she was in grade school.
She grew up between Sonora and White Mills.
Now, sending cards is her ministry to others, with almost 800 cards sent last year.
Her card ministry really kicked in after her 8-year-old nephew died in 1992. She didn’t know what else to do for her sister, so she sent her a card a day for about six weeks.
Her list of card recipients grew. She keeps a calendar and a log to help her keep up.
If someone has experienced a death in the family, she will send a card a month for about a year because she knows people tend to forget about it after a while.
The cards don’t always go to people she knows. Sherrard will see obituaries in the paper or hear about a need from someone else and send a card.
“I’ve made friends with people that I barely knew or didn’t know at all,” she said. “It’s really been a blessing and it blesses me as much as it blesses them.”
She became friends with Willie Graas when their children were in school together. Sherrard began sending Graas cards after her son was in an accident. In the 15 years that followed, when Graas was caring for her son, she and Sherrard became good friends.
“You wouldn’t believe the amount of cards we got,” Graas said.
She couldn’t count them. Graas once went through a stack of the cards she had received over the years thinking she might have to throw some out. She sat and cried because of what they meant to her.
“A lot didn’t get thrown out,” she said.
Whenever she needed a pickup, a card from Sherrard would arrive.
She did more than send cards. Sherrard would come to Graas’ home to help.
“She’s a wonderful lady,” Graas said. “I wouldn’t trade her for anything.”
Though most of the cards Sherrard sends are bought from the store, she did design one.
The Christmas after Sherrard’s father died, she found a poem about spending Christmas in Heaven and with the help of a cousin designed a card with a Ford tractor on the front. Her dad was a collector of Ford tractors.
She began by sending it to her 15 siblings after their father’s death. Now she sends this card to anyone she knows is spending Christmas without a loved one for the first time.
Often, she finds that people don’t know what to say or write in a card when someone dies. Somehow, with God’s help, she finds just the right thing to say, she said.
She’s beginning to send so many cards she's afraid she may have to cut back and focus more on bereavement and get-well cards. People seem to need them the most.
Just sending cards to her large family can get hectic. Between her brothers and sisters and their kids and grandkids, the cards pile up. Not to mention her seven kids and nine grandkids.
She’s spent almost $400 on postage for the year.
Sherrard likes to find just the right card to fit the person so it will mean something to them. Cards are stored in tubs and categorized for events and needs.
“There are cards all over the place,” she said.
Someone once told her that she was deep in grief until receiving Sherrard’s card. Another lady told her the cards were God’s way of letting her know she was going to be OK.
“I’m just his tool and doing what he (God) wants me to do,” Sherrard said. “I send them where ever I see a need.”
A lot of people think they have no talent, Sherrard said. They think they have to sing or be a public speaker but they don't. By praying for others and sending cards Sherrard feels she’s using the talents God gave her to help others.
What brings her most joy is when she hears someone has started sending cards because of one she sent to them.
“Because of you, today I am mailing a sympathy card, two birthday cards and a get-well card,” one lady told her.
She feels there’s nothing really special about her, she sees a need and sends a card to make someone feel better.
“I’m just plain old me and that’s it,” she said.
Getting to know Joanna Sherrard:
What she wanted to be when she grew up: Sherrard wanted to be a nun and then wanted to have 12 kids
Family: Husband Bruce of 44 years, seven kids — Kim, Steven, Jennifer, Andy, Kellie, Matthew and Mark — and nine grandchildren
Mentors: Her mom. “She’s the strongest lady I know,” Sherrard said. She respects her trust in God to help her with her 16 kids
Hobbies: A bell collection
Community activities: Former PTA president, Hardin County Education Foundation for nine years, parish council at St. John for two terms
Pets: A dog named Cole, seven pigmy goats, seven chickens and two cats — all her husband’s
Favorite books: Karen Kingsbury novels
Favorite TV show: “Dancing with the Stars”
Favorite Music: Country
Favorite Movie: No real favorite, but wants to get a copy of “Shenandoah” because it was the first movie she went to with her husband when they were dating
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741.