Letter gives local youth a start in stamp collecting

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(Photo courtesy BEV KEE) Hanna Mae Kee sits surrounded by a few of the letters, envelopes and packages she received after a letter she wrote asking for advice on how to start a stamp collection appeared in “The Ruralite” magazine.

SANDPOINT — For now, Hanna Mae Kee’s stamp collection is being stored in the family’s car.

With the family in the midst of a home remodel project, it’s a challenge to do day-to-day chores, much less find a spot to sort the many stamps headed Hanna’s way, much less store them.

After all, Hanna — the daughter of Tyler and Michelle Kee — never expected to have so many stamps so quickly. After noticing the artwork on many stamps, the Sandpoint youth was entranced. Her grandfather, “Papa Peter” Bilodeau then began giving her the stamps from envelopes sent to his plant service.

“I just really liked them,” the youngster said, smiling.

After learning about stamp collections and loving the artwork on them, the soon-to-be fifth grader wrote a letter asking for advice on how to start such a collection. She didn’t expect her Nana — Laurie Bilodeau — to send the letter into the Ruralite magazine, which is distributed by Northern Lights, Inc. to its customers.

The letter was short, simply stating that Hannah loved the pictures on stamps and wanted to start a collection but wasn’t sure where to start.

“I didn’t actually want to put it in the Ruralite, but I wrote the letter and my Nana sent it in,” said Hanna. “She didn’t tell me and then I saw the magazine and went, ‘Hey, that’s my name!’ I was really surprised when I saw it.”

At first Hanna thought she’d just get one or two letters. But every day, more and more letters have found their way to the fledgling stamp collector. The letters, envelopes and boxes have come from all over — some from Idaho, a lot from Oregon and some from Ohio. Some are tucked into letters, others into envelopes; some are collections of stamps and others are stamps still on their original envelope, tucked into the package sent to Hanna.

“The first day I got 11 letters,” Hanna said. “The second day, I got 13 letters, and three were big boxes. Today (Aug. 9), I got so many that it had to go in the D post office box. I’m surprised that I’ve gotten so many.”

One day, the post office had to bring the family’s mail to their home because there were too many to fit into their post office box.

“My mom says, ‘Oh no, now we’re going to get so much junk mail,’” said Hanna, altering her voice in an imitation of her mother. “I think we’ve gotten thousands and millions and trillions and zillions.”

Some are passing along stamp collections from a family member and are excited to pass them on to the next generation of collectors, said Hanna’s grandmother, Beverly Kee.

“There was a lot about ‘This was my father’s stamp collection, It was 80 years old and he passed away. I’m so happy to share it with someone that wants to collect stamps,’ ” Kee said of one of the collections sent to Hanna.

Once Hanna sorts the stamps, she plans to put them in a special book, thanks in part to a stamp collecting book a Ruralite reader sent her.

Her favorite stamp features a German shepherd, said Hanna, adding the way the artist drew the dog attracted her attention.

Her goal is to find “mess-up” stamps where the stamps were printed upside down or with a mistake. It doesn’t happen often so the stamps are really valuable and “really pretty,” said Hanna.

“I read about them in the A to Z Mysteries books that they are really valuable,” she added. “I think it’d be fun to find some.”

With so many different stamps out there, Hanna said there’s no limit on how many stamps she plans to collect — adding to the many stamps that people have sent her or others have given her.

“I don’t know,” she added. “But so far I think I might have a million stamps.”

Hanna wants those who have shared their stamps with her to know that she is thankful for their gifts and plans to send them letters. “I want to say thank you for sharing your stamps with me,” she added. “I’m really happy that people sent me stamps.”

When she’s not spending time with her family — or checking out her new stamps — Hanna is taking part in the summer reading program and has her sights set on the program’s T-shirt. She’s already collected several prizes and is busy listening to the Harry Potter series on audiobook.

“My favorite part was when Hermione Granger slapped Malfoy in the face,” said Hanna, adding that she believes the Sorting Hat would place her in the Gryffindor House.

She also enjoys jump roping, swimming and “scaring her brother,” Hanna said with a grin.

Her favorite books are mysteries, with the A to Z Mysteries series her favorite. The books, written by Ron Roy, follow the adventures of a trio of young detectives who become friends and solve mysteries of strange doings around their town.

“I like how they all have the same plot except for the first one,” said Hanna. “And there’s a bad guy that always gets arrested for doing something bad. I like the plots of how the people steal things because they’re very interesting.”

While being a detective someday would be “a good hobby,” Hanna said she would really like to catch orangutans trying to steal very valuable pictures, like in “the Orange Outlaw”, one of the books in the A to Z Mysteries series. In the book, the owner trains an orangutan by showing a photo of a picture, and then sending it to steal the picture.

When school resumes in early September, Hanna will be a fifth grader at Sandpoint Waldorf School.

Those interested in sending stamps to Hanna can send them to the family at 2023 Winchester Way, Sandpoint ID 83864.

Caroline Lobsinger can be reached by email at clobsinger@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @CarolDailyBee.

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