Saturday started as a cold day, raining ice, with the sidewalks and roads covered with a sheet of ice: not exactly a day for anyone to be out in the elements, standing in a long line, waiting their turn to navigate the treacherous, ice-laden ground to place a wreath on a veteran’s grave.
Thus my RAK opportunity was born.
With it being too cumbersome to carry warm drinks or snacks to participants for Wreaths Across America, I did the next best thing by getting 50 Starbucks cards which I happily gave away throughout the morning!
My starting ‘strategy’ was to give cards to those in uniform.
I then targeted the police and security who were, for example, checking bags & directing people.
What fun it was to exchange an armful of wreaths for some gift cards with the surprised & grateful helpers at the trucks!
“Wow – you traveled all the way from Bedford, PA starting at 4 am this morning in the dark, cold, and bad weather conditions to participate in this? Please enjoy *2* gift cards each (and get home safely)!”
“I was so sorry to see you slip on the ice, not to mention you traveled from Brick, NJ to join your family in this event – gift cards to those who ran over to make sure you were okay and to your family”
“Happy to provide my name, Mr. Reuters Photographer, in case you’re able to publish the picture you took of me. I hope you got a good picture of my [ARG] hat? Please enjoy a warm drink when you’re done” (no, not at all a bribe …. ! )
I had to work up a bit of courage to approach people, and at times I wished I had more to give away, but it was wonderful to touch so many people and so rewarding to give back to those who were out that unpleasant morning honoring our country’s veterans by giving their time & energy, and even, to some extent, risking their safety (the gentleman from NJ I saw fall was older and he went down hard)
The looks of confusion were always followed by big smiles & words of “thank you, “ “Happy holidays!” “Alright!” “so nice!!,” but the most surprising and best thanks I received was the bear HUG from one of the truck drivers who’d delivered the wreaths.
Making other people’s day was a great way to start my day!
– Laurel Sonnenschein