WILKES-BARRE — How often are there free flowers, free hugs, and positive messages written on the pavement on Public Square?
On Saturday, a few locals gathered to spread positivity, including Tim Maloney, Becca Boerger and Justin Vacula, for “Be Kind Wilkes-Barre.” They will return at noon Sunday.
Maloney, who organized the event, said it was inspired by “Be Kind Scranton,” and the Scranton-based “Hug Army,” who have done similar events in the past.
“(We’re here) to promote positivity, and, in general, just being kind to one another,” Maloney said. “I feel like, in this current climate, there’s a lot of divisiveness and hate going around, and something simple like this is an easy way to spread happiness.”
Maloney said this was the third time the event has taken place in Wilkes-Barre — the first, in February, saw about three dozen participants and the second took place this spring during the Fine Arts Fiesta.
In addition to the flowers and hugs, the group handed out pieces of paper that said “You’re Awesome.” They also wrote positive messages — including “you are loved” and “you are beautiful” — in sidewalk chalk on the Square.
“I agree with the focus on positivity,” Boerger said. She’s a part of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Wyoming Valley.
“We believe in the inherent dignity and worth of every person, so that means even if you don’t agree with them, they have inherent worth and dignity, and I think that gets lost sometimes in our current environment,” she explained.
Boerger pointed out the potential impact of something as simple as a kind word.
“For some people, they may be walking around and they may be in such a bad place … and you receive something like that … you just don’t know what impact that has on somebody’s life.”
Vacula, who is a student of mental health counseling at Marywood, was just hoping to give back through kindness.
“Sometimes people don’t recognize the positive things that are going on in their lives and focus on the negatives, and discount all of the positive experiences … so this, actually going out and being part of the community, maybe that could be a big help … small measures of kindness,” he said.