*This is a sponsored post by AT&T, but this is sincerely the best post ever. Way to go AT&T. Thanks for letting us be a part of this Spread The Cheer Campaign.
Christmas tree up, presents wrapped, sugar cookies decorated, but something was still missing… spreading holiday cheer to others.
Every year I try to create experiences and activities that will help bring the holiday spirit into my home. This year I had the luxury of being able to make our holiday season even more meaningful by participating in the AT&T ‘Spread The Cheer’ campaign. What is the ‘Spread The Cheer’ campaign? Using funds provided by AT&T, participants were asked to spread holiday cheer and help those around them.
AT&T’s 2014 giving campaign was very successful. Following the campaign, they asked their employees for submissions on, “How would you spread holiday cheer and help those around you?” The response was huge! AT&T received over 1,200 submissions! A few of these ideas were selected, implemented, and video recorded. This one made me smile from ear to ear.
Another fantastic ‘Spread The Cheer’ moment was caught on camera in Atlanta, Georgia. Watch how a food truck made a big difference.
You can watch other ways cheer was spread here.
When AT&T reached out to us here at HowDoesShe, we immediately knew this was something we wanted to do. We felt honored when asked to participate in the 2015 campaign. Brainstorming and planning was immediately underway. Personally heading up this special project made me feel like I was on some sort of secret holiday mission, and it felt great!
Using a $500 gift card (Thanks AT&T!), you and your team must use all 500 dollars spreading the cheer in whatever manner you so choose.
Sounds easy and fun, right? Fun, absolutely! But easy, that’s another story! We were all so excited to get started that the ideas just kept flowing. It was so hard to narrow down just exactly how we wanted to spread the cheer because well, when you start to think about it,…there are so many people that would be deserving and appreciative recipients of even the smallest gesture of kindness.
After about three days of deliberation, we were ready to get out there and #SpreadTheCheer with everyone around us!
First Stop: Local Thrift Store
We went into our local thrift store hoping to find a shopper whose bill we could pay and maybe even add in a little extra surprise. Upon entering the store, we were greeted by the sweetest yet most energetic cashier, Lisa. Lisa’s positive attitude was contagious. As she greeted and chatted with each customer, it was as if she was welcoming them into her own home. It took only a few seconds for us to realize…SHE WAS THE ONE! We thought we had it all figured out perfectly. We decided to have my nephew buy something and while at the register, he would ask Lisa a couple of questions. He asked her, “If you could have anything for Christmas what would it be?” Here we thought we were being slick enough that Lisa would spill the beans, then we could go buy whatever it was she asked for and return later with the surprise gift. Well, we shouldn’t have been surprised when Lisa’s response was thinking of others. Now even more than ever we wanted to do something special for Lisa. We thanked Lisa, then walked out with the book we purchased. We quickly reconvened outside and decided to write Lisa a special note and using our #SpreadTheCheer gift card, we included a gas and retail store gift card with our little note. We walked back into the store and handed Lisa the card and thanked her for being such a wonderful person and explained that we hoped she could use the gift to get something special for herself. Knowing Lisa, I’m sure she’ll use what was given to her to spread the cheer with others. And isn’t that what the holiday season is all about!?!
I’d like to think we couldn’t have picked a more perfect person to spread the cheer with. But then again, I don’t think we really picked Lisa….or any of these awesome people we stumbled upon this week. We were just lucky enough to cross paths with her and all the wonderful people we met as we #SpreadTheCheer.
Speaking of all the wonderful people…
2nd Stop: Family Restaurant
As we walked into the restaurant, we were greeted by the hostess. Similar to our thrift store experience…we were impressed by her kindness. Where some people might be a little taken back by a group of ten (6 of which being young, energetic kids) she pleasantly seated us and as we apologized for all the crazy going on..she assured us it was no problem at all. She explained that she had three boys of her own, so she completely understood.
Although we were all excited about the southern feast about to be had, we were there with a plan in motion. We wanted to find a waiter with whom we could #SpreadTheCheer. Well, change of plans again…our new plan we knew had to include the sweet hostess, too!
The hostess got us all set up with high chairs, slings, menus, and crayons..and then enters Marcellus. Just like the hostess, Marcellus’ personality caught our attention right away. Marcellus was more than patient with our crew, chatted with us about his family at home, shared a couple of his original songs from YouTube, and just had the type of personality that lights up a room. We couldn’t wait for the meal to end, (even though it was mighty delicious and “never disappoints” according to my brother, ha…), because we couldn’t wait to surprise Marcellus! As the meal came to an end, we thanked Marcellus as we trickled out of the restaurant. Now comes the fun part! I don’t think I’ll be able to give it as much justice as the video (spoiler alert!), but one by one we sent each of the kids in with $10..each saying…”Sorry, we forgot to give you this!” I walked in last with $50 in hand and said the same to Marcellus. His reaction was one of complete appreciation and shock…and enough to bring anyone to tears…and ok I admit..I was right there crying with him.
As we passed the hostess station on our way out, we handed the sweet hostess a little card with a gift card inside. As she read the little note, tears welled in her eyes. There’s nothing quite like watching another person fill with emotion out of sheer happiness and gratitude.
I’m so grateful we stumbled upon these two very extraordinary people on such an every day ordinary type of day.
3rd Stop: Downtown Memphis, TN
While some are spending the holidays with loved ones, exchanging gifts wrapped in beautiful bows, and attending holiday parties…others are alone and perhaps even without a home. Knowing that so many would be on the streets this holiday season, we knew we wanted to spread the cheer with those in need.
So, I headed to the store with my little girl and niece in tow. We brushed up on our counting skills as we counted out 15 bottles of deodorant, packages of Kleenex, pairs of socks, packs of wet ones, candies, bottles of water, containers of Tylenol, granola bars, fruit cups, toothbrush & toothpaste sets to fill in our “blessing bags”.
On Christmas Eve, I set out with my husband and little girl…again hoping we might come in contact with those who would truly benefit from our blessing bags. On our way to downtown Memphis, we remembered one particular man we wanted to give a blessing bag. My husband remembered his homemade sign from the previous week which read “I pray it won’t always be this way.” This particular man and his sign made such an impression on my husband that we set out to see if we could find him on our way to downtown. My heart filled with compassion as we saw him when we rounded the corner of the off ramp. We quickly gave him a blessing bag and it was nice to get to know the person behind the sign that made such an impact on my husband.
After a quick goodbye, we headed towards downtown Memphis. Along the way, our little girl fell asleep on the ride, so we decided to circle the city streets. Within minutes, we spotted the sweetest looking old man walking alone down the city sidewalk. My husband quickly pulled over, hopped out and handed him a blessing bag. My husband was gone for a couple of minutes, so I knew they were having a great little chat and I couldn’t wait to hear all about this sweet man. Upon returning to the car, I could tell he was amazed by the kindness and humility of this complete stranger as he shared with me his name and told of his sincere demeanor as they spoke.
We got back in the car, and as we turned the corner, we spotted a man putting plastic bags behind a bush, in front of a church. It appeared to be what looked like his clothes. We knew we wanted to ask him if we could give him a blessing bag. He kindly accepted the bag. In that moment, it made me realize that we don’t always know what others are going through, or what got them to the place they’re at in life. And where someone can use my help, or love…I want to be the person that’s there to lend a hand, no matter what.
We had 11 bags left, so we found a parking spot a few blocks away and with stroller in tow, we walked the streets of downtown Memphis. Again, within minutes we found a group of wonderful people who gratefully accepted our bags and were beyond thankful for the gift. It was so wonderful seeing their faces light up at what some might consider a small or meaningless gift. As we talked and got to know some of these new friends, we couldn’t help but be impressed by their positive outlooks and continued hope for a better life. Despite their circumstances, they were able to see the good in their lives and were even excited to spread the cheer with others!
It took maybe 15 minutes total before we were completely cleared out of all our bags. On our drive back, I thought about the last few days, the people we met, the lives we hoped to change, and the cheer we spread. I started thinking about next year and what we could do to continue to spread the cheer. There couldn’t have been a better way to spend Christmas Eve. I didn’t want the happiness that I felt that last fews days to end!
I truly feel like the luckiest gal in the world to have been a part of such a wonderful experience. Thank you AT&T! Whether a small act of kindness, or a large gesture of love, how much sweeter would the world be if we all took a little time to spread the cheer?!
Want to see more ‘Spread the Cheer’ ideas? Check out more videos by AT&T here.
These warm fuzzy moments are happening everyday around us by people just like you. We’d love to get a glimpse of the cheer that’s being spread nationwide. Get involved with AT&T‘s ‘Spread The Cheer’ campaign by giving back to your local community (whether it’s a monetary donation or giving your time) and share what you did on social media using the hashtag #SpreadTheCheer.
Let’s continue to ‘Spread The Cheer’ like wildfire.
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