Yesterday, I took my youngest daughter to a local mall for some “Daddy Daughter” time. When we were leaving, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed two young ladies holding up signs. Usually when someone is standing outside a store with a sign it will say will say such things like, “Hungry and Unemployed” or “U.S. Vet. Hungry. Please Help. God Bless” or “Will work for Food.” Imagine my surprise when instead these signs read, “Free Hugs.”
I literally did a double take. After reading the signs again, I looked up at the two lovely young ladies. They both smiled at me. I didn’t sense any malice or deception on their behalf. However, after living in Connecticut for seven years, I’m quite guarded when it comes to dealing with strangers. I smiled back at them and said something like, “Maybe next time” and then headed to my car with my daughter.
Yet, when I got in my car, my sense of curiosity got the better of me. Perhaps that’s an occupational hazard of being an author. I had to see why these ladies were doing what they were doing.
My youngest daughter held onto my hand tightly as we re-approached the givers of free hugs.
“I have a strange request,” I said. “May I take a picture of you two?”
|Emily and Genevieve|
One of the girls introduced herself as Genevieve and the other was Emily. As we chatted, I discovered that they were roommates at Meredith College—a private all woman’s college in the area. Genevieve explained that she had a list of things she wanted to do, like a bucket list of sorts, and one of them was to offer free hugs to strangers.
My curiosity grew.
I asked them what kind of reaction they had been getting. They said mainly strange looks, though they did have a few takers.
Trying not to sound rude, I asked, “What do you hope to gain from doing this?”
The response was priceless. Genevieve said that she hoped to help people have a better day—to make the world a bit happier. Emily admitted she wasn’t much of a hugger, but she was there to support her friend.
In the end, they gave hugs to my nine-year-old daughter. I didn’t hug them, but they achieved their mission. My day was much better for seeing their selfless act of kindness.