Technically speaking, for most of us, it really isn’t difficult to be kind to someone and yet it seems like kindness can be in short supply sometimes.
Leading up to Valentine’s Day we as a society are bombarded with the commercial aspects of it — advertisements urging us to purchase and exchange material goods to show affection or take our partners out for a “romantic” meal.
Some go all out and buy into the mainstream culture of Valentine’s Day while others look for different ways to express care and affection.
At the Reeb Avenue Center, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to reach out into the community that surrounds it and show those that are down on their luck that kindness still exists and that they matter to someone.
They call it the Love Kindness Program, and this year the Reeb Avenue Center was joined by a dozen volunteers from Champion Companies, a local property management organization.
The company was represented by a wide variety of employees from painters to upper management, as they worked together to stuff envelopes with a free meal card and an all-day bus pass.
After stockpiling 300 envelopes the group set out to give them to people who may be able to use them.
Their first stop was All People’s Free Market and the Free Store right across the street.
No one was off-limits when it came to presenting a valentine-packed envelope and a small box of chocolates.
People walking down the street, or waiting at the bus stop, or in line to enter the market, or simply waiting to get into the Free Store were all approached as equals and without expectations.
They were invited to come to the Reeb Avenue Center for a free meal and learn about the many services that may be of help to them.
Some people who didn’t need the bus pass pledged to give it to someone who did, and at least one couple who was waiting to pick up clothes at the Free Store mentioned they would pick up the free meal and take it to a neighbor in need.
From there, several volunteers were off to look for more people in need while others rushed back to the center where some had already started showing up sooner than anticipated.
The mood when it was learned that people were taking them up on their offer for a free lunch and following through with coming to the center filled them with positive energy and apparent joy.
And that’s the thing, isn’t it.
When you are kind and do something nice for someone else, it can fill you with joy.
Thursday, instead of spending another day at the office, 12 employees of a successful company spent the day walking around the south side of Columbus helping to connect people in need with a hot meal, reliable transportation, and access to other services that could fundamentally change their lives.
At the beginning of the day, I asked one of them what Valentine’s Day meant to them and one of their first responses was that it was a special day because it was the anniversary of the first date they ever had with their husband.
By the end of the day, they admitted that this Valentine’s Day was the best one they ever had.
It was a different kind of feeling than that first date, but it was just as powerful.
Around 300 cards were handed out Thursday over a couple of hours, another 500 cards will be handed out at a company-wide meeting and employees will be instructed to hand them out in their communities to people who appear to need them.