Volunteers spread handmade bells throughout Tucson to combat tragedy with mass kindness.
On the morning of January 14th, 2011, over 500 volunteers distributed 1,400 handmade ceramic bells to public locations throughout Tucson, Arizona. The bells are hung from trees where people will see, hear and find them. On each bell is a note encouraging the finder to take the bell home with the simple reminder to “be kind.”
Non-profit organization Ben’s Bells has been performing similar acts of kindness twice a year since 2003, when founder Jeanette Mare marked the anniversary of her young son’s death by randomly distributing 400 bells throughout the Tucson area. Mare found little acts of kindness from friends, family and strangers alike were crucial to her survival after her tragedy, so she started the Ben’s Bells project as a return favor to the community. The hands-on process of making the bells serves as a group therapy for volunteers to cope with their own grief while helping others.
The positive feedback loop created by the Ben’s Bells leading finders to join in making more bells has helped the project grow in size and scale. Over 18,000 Ben’s Bells have been distributed by hundreds of volunteers to other sites in need of kindness like New Orleans after Katrina and the World Trade Center in New York. The nation is responding in kind. Mare describes how FBI agents allowed her to hang bells inside the corded-off site of the shootings outside the Tucson Safeway:
“I asked an FBI guy if he would hang them inside the tape, and he took them back to a trailer setup, and all of the sudden FBI guys came out and started hanging them up in the trees,” Mare said. “The sight of these FBI agents kind of swarming out of this van and up to the trees … was amazing to see.”
Ben’s Bells Project
[via Arizona Daily Star]