FREE Hugs!

Lisa Lehmann

Posted on February 13 2010

This is what I did Friday. I wore a red cape and a pink sparkle headband. I donned myself, "Little Red Riding Hug" and marched through downtown Grand Rapids carrying a sign that read "HUG ME". Yup, it's true I did that!
free hugs day
WHY? You may ask. And quite frankly, I asked myself the same thing when one of my co-founder's of the HELPcampaign suggested it. Why hugs? Why in public? Why advertise them as FREE?
Well the answer is quite simple actually. Hugs make people feel good. Hugs ARE in fact free. And Hugs do catch people off guard...especially when you are wearing a cape, a sparkle headband and carrying a sign!
The purpose? We, at the HELPcampaign, wanted to do something radically different in our community, something uexpected...but also, we wanted to raise money and/or blankets for the Guiding Light Mission - aka LifeOnTheStreet.org. And we did just that!
There were ups and downs to the day. I was "dissed" plenty with a "no thank you" or "I don't do hugs". I even witnessed people running into stores as they saw me approach! As if I would have accosted them ....pahleeeeese!
But my highlights? Having my kids next me, equally excited about the event. Watching my 14 year old son wear a pink feather boa and ask complete strangers for a hug. It makes me tear up even now. Seeing people dig for money when they knew which "cause" it was going to.
But the best part of my day? Some of the guys at Guiding Light Mission helped us make the signs to carry and then they came down to help as well. I ran across the street to hug one of them, not recognizing him at first as one of "the guys". He gave me hug and said, "I'll take your hug, but I'm one of YOU" (meaning a HELPcampaign hugger!) The fact that he felt that sense of belonging, that he was so eager to be a part of this....well that my friend impacted MY heart.
So if you ever think "but I don't like hugging", or "it's not for me"....I encourage you to try it...especially with a stranger. We are humans, designed to love, designed to feel, designed to touch and be in community with others.
From my arms to yours.....Happy Valentines Day!

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