Last week, seven SMUS students spread a little love by giving away hugs to anyone who wanted one. The group of volunteers were doing a test run in advance of the official Free Hugs Day, since this year they wanted to take the event downtown, a new venue.
“Every year, the school has Free Hugs Day,” says Reverend Keven Fletcher, who accompanied the students. “For me, it’s so important for SMUS to reach beyond itself and into the local community.”
The community definitely appreciated the students’ efforts, as people kept coming to receive a free friendly embrace. Tourists, locals, seniors, kids – all kinds of individuals took part throughout the afternoon.
“It was interesting to see people’s reaction to the idea,” says hugger Kaylynn Purdy. “Some people actually ran over to hug you or got out of their cars or off their bikes, others just wanted to chat and some thought that you were going to pick-pocket them.”
Two of the student leaders were inspired to run this year’s event after they went to the CAIS conference, where they realized that this simple event was a great way to serve. “The cool thing about Free Hugs Day is that there’s no measurable product,” says Reverend Fletcher, which makes it different from other service activities, such as fundraisers. The goal is just to improve someone’s day.
“I found that it was impossible to stop smiling the entire time I was holding the sign, and everybody that you hugged or talked to couldn’t stop smiling either,” says Kaylynn. “Just by holding a sign and hugging a stranger the world seemed like a kinder and more welcoming place.”