Just one year ago today, we had no clue about COVID 19. We were not preparing for a pandemic. I had never thought of social distancing or wearing a mask.
The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, at that time, was preparing for Leap of Kindness Day, on February 29, 2020. We were trying to spread kindness across the world and brand Saratoga as one of the kindest places to live.
We invented Leap of Kindness Day in 2016. The idea was simple. Every four years, there is a Leap Year. We all get one extra day that year. What will you do with your extra day is the question we asked. In 2016 and again in 2020, our idea was to suggest that everyone in Saratoga County and beyond use their extra day to do something kind for someone else. The only constructive criticism we would ever hear was that we should practice kindness every day, not just one day every four years.
Just two weeks later, we would go on PAUSE. We were told to Stay Home. We saw friends and neighbors lose jobs or be forced to close their business. Our children were sent home from school. Our local nursing homes went on lockdown with in-person visits prohibited. Our healthcare workers and first responders were our heroes on the frontlines of this war with COVID 19.
With so much turmoil and trauma, we also saw kindness here in Saratoga!
FLAG Saratoga was launched last March. In just a couple of weeks, the volunteer leaders behind this effort raised $30,000. They bought 3,000 meals from struggling local restaurants and delivered these meals to the heroes on the frontline.
We Are Brewnited was formed in April. This collaboration between local breweries led to the creation of a new beer. The proceeds from the sale of this beer and other donations were used to help local folks impacted by COVID 19. The organizers give actual cash donations to help with specific requests and needs.
The Saratoga County IDA and Clifton Park IDA both created a small business grant program this summer. They’ve now distributed tens of thousands of dollars to local small businesses to help them with expenses related to personnel protective equipment. They are still awarding grants today.
Saratoga Hospital purchased Downtown Business Association gift certificates for all of their employees. Now as these heroes use these gift certificates, it is putting cash in the registers of our local shops and stores downtown.
Driscoll Foods and Saratoga Eagle underwrote a Split the Bill program last week. 2,300 local people spent more than $180,000 on one day at local restaurants.
During the month of February in 2021, Curtis Lumber is inviting customers to purchase a 2 x 4 for $6. All purchases will be given to Habitat for Humanity for a new home build project locally this summer. This initiative was created last year as one of our Leap of Kindness Day activities. This past summer, I stood in the new home where the 2 x 4’s were used and the family was just so excited.
We may have invented Leap of Kindness Day. I’m more impressed, however, with the fact that our community has invented so many ways for all of us to be kind during this past year. We said all along that we’d be Stronger Together. What we really were was kinder together.
We’re going to need to continue to be kinder together. It can be as simple as wearing a mask. It can involve making sure you get the vaccine when it is made available to you. It can be continuing to make all of your purchases from local stores, shops, restaurants, contractors and professional firms. It can be by making a donation to a local nonprofit.
We don’t have to wait for February 29, 2024, to celebrate Leap of Kindness Day. We can do something kind for someone else every day. It will always make a positive difference.