I wanted to post about a great outreach we’ve been doing in our community for the last few years. It has been a hit each year, and annually we do more and more hugs.
For Valentine’s Day, our small(but big-minded) church buys bags of Hershey’s Hugs, thousands of ziplock snack bags, and confetti, and printed up business cards with our “Hug” graphic (you can download it, and several other high-quality, printable card graphics I designed by clicking here.)
We assemble over a thousand of these bags during a church fellowship time, putting 4 Hugs in each, a small spot of confetti, and a card.
We then bag up 25 of these into plastic grocery bags, and give them to our saints to distribute on Valentine’s Day.
The goal is for each person in the church to distribute Hugs to as many people as they could. We specifically targeted people who were working in stores, restaurants, and other places of service. The reason for this was to be a blessing to those who were having to sacrifice their own time to make sure others had a good holiday.
The results have been incredible!!! We’ve received so much positive feedback that we almost couldn’t keep up with it. Phonecalls came in, our website traffic went through the roof, stories from our saints about people breaking down in tears at the kindness… a few of the workers, cashiers, waitresses and waiters that got a “hug” actually came back and returned it with a real hug with tears in their eyes.
I have to report that nobody visited our church directly from receiving a “Hug” bag last year, but several people have come as a by-product of it… these workers went home and shared our church’s kindness with other people, and our church has been blessed because of it. We have a very good reputation in our community not just because of this outreach, but because of the consistency in doing this type of outreach.
And I can’t begin to explain the impact this outreach alone has had on our own people. They have turned into an outreach machine!! People that never thought they could do evangelism are now the biggest contributors! People who had a bad taste in their mouth at rejection and vowed never to do outreach again (believe it) now do personal evangelism consistently… as a personal ministry! My saints asked me to modify the card from saying, “Have a great Valentines Day” to just “Have a great day” so they could give more out all through the year. One of our ladies has taken it on as her personal ministry and regularly assembles and gives these bags away. She’s making a difference in people’s lives!
It’s awesome stuff, guys!
Now here’s the twist!
Every “Hug” package that our church gives out has a link to www.HugGrandRapids.com on the business card, and encourages people to, “Pass it On… Send a virtual hug to a friend”.
I registered the Hug Grand Rapids domain name and designed and built a website that allows people to visit it, type in an email, name and message to a friend, and send them a “virtual hug”. The site emails a “hug” to the friend with a link BACK to the site, where that person can in turn send a hug to other people. The site has a running tally of how many hugs have been sent. Every email carries a link that says, “Sponsored by the Pentecostals of Kentwood” which promotes our church’s website.
This year, our goal is give away at least 1,500 hug packages on Valentine’s Day at our local restaurants, shopping malls and hospitals.
We’re having our people “adopt” an area of town so we don’t overlap efforts.
We’re hoping that the website will continue year-round because of its novelty, and will be a constant reminder and advertisement for our church.
So… there you have it… this is our Hug Grand Rapids campaign!
For anyone looking for supplies, here is an incredible price for 3×5 ziplock bags from uline…
http://www.uline.com/ProductDetail.asp? … 93&ref=208
…and here is an equally incredible price for crinkle-paper (confetti)…
http://www.uline.com/Browse_Listing_190 … ds=packing
I have found that you can get a better deal from a local Walgreens on Hershey Hugs than I could find in bulk online… here’s a comparison:
http://www.walgreens.com/store/product. … od2499555#
$.33/oz, which coverts to $5.28/lb