Ben's Bells and Sedona Kind Charms a Positive Way to Promote Random Acts of Kindness
Ben's Bells Symbols of Kindness
I didn't hear about the concept of Ben's Bells until a few days after the Tucson Arizona mass shooting that occurred on January 8th of 2011. Jared Lee Loughner was accused of shooting U S Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords point blank in the head at an outdoor meeting called a Congress on Your Corner. The shooting rampage wounded 19, and killed six before Laughner could be wrestled to the ground. While Loughner has been described as a loner who had radical political views and mental health issues, no motive for the shooting is known. The senseless violence sent the Tucson community into anger and shock waves and then despair that the world we live in is increasingly becoming so violent.
During a phone call to a friend who lives in Tucson and who had lost a friend and colleague in the shooting, she mentioned wanting to help place Ben's Bells around Tucson to help people with their sadness. She gave me a few facts about how the concept of Ben's Bells began, and later I read more about them. In 2002, a two year old boy, Ben Mare Packard died suddenly when a severe croup closed his airway. Ben's mother Jeannette Mare could have spent her time in self pity, but instead she began making simple ceramic wind-chimes with a brass bell at the bottom as a therapy for her grief. She formulated the idea to hang the bells in unusual locations and to attach a note to each bell with a reminder to spread kindness. The simple idea to honor her son's memory has become a very powerful symbol of Kindness and Hope. On Friday, January 14, 2011, five hundred volunteers placed 1,400 of Ben's Bells around Tucson to help those who found them to overcome their grief and to promote healing.
Ben's Bells Kindness Coin
A Ripple Effect
The efforts of one mother who lost her son in tragic circumstances 11 years ago has become the Ben's Bells Project. On Tues-Sat, volunteers gather to make Ben's Bells, and groups are welcome with advance notice. The colors of the ceramic bells are bright green, blue, red, purple and yellow, and the shapes include, hands, hearts, flowers, butterflies. The Ben's Bells are not sold. They are usually hung each Spring and Fall or various people have been "Belled" for exceptional acts of community service in Tucson. The Ben's Bells project maintains a web site bensbells.org. There is an online store to fund the materials for making the bells. Merchandise includes T-Shirts, Be Kind Necklaces and earrings, mini bead bells, Kindness ornaments.
Last March 29th on the anniversery day of Ben's death, the employees of The Aizona Republic newspaper in Phoenix, did a project where they brought 250 Ben's Bells to hang in the communities that comprise Metro Phoenix. The newspaper ran a story on Ben's Bells the following day, asking to hear from those who had found the bells and what the message to spread kindness meant to them. The stories from those who found them were amazing. Most of them had the theme of "I was feeling sorry for myself because of...but having discovered that bright piece of art with the message to spread kindness, it forced me to think outside myself."
So many people turn to ranting on social networks and web sites about everything that is wrong, which is a good outlet for many, but what might happen if at least some of that time was spent doing a simple act of kindness for a friend or stranger? According to an article written by Laurie Roberts in The Arizona Republic, the bells have made their way to many other states, were placed for the people of New York City to find on the anniversary of 9/11, and to Hermosillo Mexico after a fire in a child care center killed 44 children.
After the school shooting in the community of Sandy Hook in Newtown Connecticut, volunteers from Arizona went to hang Ben's Bells. As of July, 2013, a Ben's Bells studio was established in Newton, to be able to create the bells for others in nearby communities.
Eight chapters have been established nationwide.
The bells may not stop senseless tragedies , but Ben's Bells bring a healing message that the finder is not alone.
Sedona Kind Charms
Inspired by Ben's Bells in Tucson, a group of women in Sedona started the Sedona Kind project 4 years ago. Their motto is: "Always be kind whenever possible. It is always possible." Women called Charmers create beautiful chains with beads and other jewelry findings on chains that are placed in random locations with a note that says: "Take Me Home and Spread Kindness." So far, the charms from Sedona Kind have been placed in every state and at least 24 other countries. Their goal is to let each finder know they are loved and to have that love passed on.
Sedona Kind has a wonderful web site that contains pictures of the Kindness Charms, the Charmers making the charms and wonderful stories from those who found the charms and the acts of kindness that the charms inspired. The web site also contains a wonderful list of suggestions for acts of kindness such as matching someone who needs help with acts such as: Offering a ride, baking a plate of cookies, writing someone a thank you note, performing a service such as caring for their children, yard work or any other helpful task or maybe just a hug.
The charms are made from donated broken jewelry or findings are purchased through donated funds. There is information on the Sedona Kind web site on how to get involved.
****I would love comments on similar projects in other communities.
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