OKEECHOBEE — Normally when you hear that something is contagious, it’s a bad thing, but occasionally, it can be good. Love can be contagious, and so can kindness. Angie Griffin, owner of Stafford’s Salon and The Outpost, has always been a big advocate of showing kindness and caring within her community. As the president of Okeechobee Main Street, she often leads the way with her attempts to make everyone in the community feel important and needed.
In January 2019, Okeechobee Main Street brought The Kindness Revolution to Okeechobee to help advance the kindness cause in Okeechobee. While the revolution was going on, participants watched for people doing random acts of kindness and gave them a “Kindness bracelet.”
This year, Ms. Griffin watched as her community closed down to try to stem the tide of the COVID-19 virus, and said she wanted to do something to make not only herself but the people she works with and people who pass by her businesses every day feel a little bit better and know they are loved. She wanted to brighten their days just a little bit if she could. She discovered something called Heart Hunters on Facebook and began reading about it.
According to their Facebook page, Heart Hunters “was started by a mom in Galesburg, Ill., who saw a post about placing hearts in windows for kids to see while out walking. She thought it sounded wonderful, and Heart Hunters was born. She wanted to promote social distancing while doing an activity with her children during a time when we must be so careful. It has grown into much, much more.
Ms. Griffin loved the idea and wanted to show her appreciation for all the people working on the front lines, she said. “It’s just like a thank-you, an appreciation of what they are doing for all of us.” She saw pictures from different places and really liked the way they looked. She planned to do their windows before they got the order to close their doors, and had already begun cutting them out. They cut them all out by hand, she said. Linda Howard and her daughters helped, and then of course the girls in the salon helped as well. Even with all that assistance, it took a long time! After they cut them out, they taped them to the windows. She thought about putting a sign in the window explaining why they were there but couldn’t figure out how to go about it without ruining the whole feel of the window, so she didn’t. She is thinking of going back and adding #HeartHunters somewhere on the window so people can look it up if they want to know more about it.
She would love to see others doing the same thing, she said. She was happy to see Lillies and Lace and Big Tasty decorated their windows. Hannah Addington, whose family owns Big Tasty, said they did the windows to show support of the essential workers. Ms. Addington explained each color represents a different field of work: Pink is for medical personnel; red for EMT/firefighters; orange for food providers; yellow for health department workers; green for truck drivers, delivery drivers and postal workers; blue for law enforcement; and purple for media. She said the display illustrates just a small measure of the gratitude they feel toward those on the front line.
Now that she has finished her window at Big Tasty, she is working on the window of Addington Satellite and has even offered her services to anyone who would like hearts cut out for their windows. “You buy the supplies, and I will do the cutting,” she said. Marion Ross, who owns Brains on STEM, is next in line for Ms. Addington’s cutting services. Ms. Addington said it’s not as difficult as it sounds. She has a machine to cut them.
If you would like to know more about Heart Hunters, you can find them on Facebook and talk about hearts with their 792,000 members.