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Share the love
No one to romance? No worries

02/11/16
By Angie Sykeny asykeny@hippopress.com



If romance isn’t in the cards for you this Valentine’s Day, don’t lose heart. Instead, use the day as an opportunity to share the love with your family, friends and even strangers.  

For some tips on how to do that, the Hippo consulted kindness connoisseur Brenda Perkins, board president of Hearts for Kindness, a nonprofit that seeks to bring the greater Concord community together through miscellaneous acts of kindness and small-scale, situational monetary assistance. 
“Acts of kindness are a wonderful thing to do all year long, but Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to do a little extra,” Perkins said.
 
Share the love: at home
For the kids in your life, help them assemble some goodie bags to take to their friends at school, or sneak a tasty treat or nice note in their lunchbox. If you really want to get fancy, you can write fun messages on their lunch items with a food-safe marker.
If you have some family or friends that you don’t talk to often, give them a call, or better yet, mail them a card or letter.
“It’s kind of a lost art now with text messaging, but who doesn’t love getting a nice card in the mail and knowing that someone took the time to think of them?” Perkins said. “And Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to break out of that shell and be more verbal about your feelings for the people you care about.”  
And don’t forget about the four-legged members of your family. Pets appreciate a new toy or special treat any day of the year, so be sure to show them some love on Valentine’s Day, too.
 
Share the love: at work
Brighten the work day by bringing in some treats for your co-workers. It can be something as simple as a piece of candy on everyone’s desk or a box of donuts for the breakroom. If you’re kitchen savvy, try whipping up some goodies of your own. Perkins recommends chocolate-covered strawberries for a treat that’s easy to make and easy to share.
“People seem to think they are hard to make, but they really aren’t,” she said. “Just melt some chocolate chips in the microwave for about a minute and 15 seconds, dip the strawberries and put them on some wax paper, stick them in the fridge until they harden. That would make a really nice treat for your co-workers.”
 
Share the love: while you’re out
Spread Valentine’s Day cheer everywhere you go by doing random acts of kindness. Even the smallest gesture can have a big impact on a stranger.
“It’s one thing to care for our family and friends, because they also care for us,” Perkins said. “But there’s something special about giving [to] and caring for a stranger. It’s a whole different part of your heart that you have to open up.”
If you have an old winter coat or one too many pairs of gloves, stop by the nearest homeless shelter and see if that’s something they could use. Got a few extra canned goods in your pantry? Drop them off at the local food bank. By making one extra stop on your errand run, you can make a better day for someone in need.
When you pull up to a tollbooth, cover the toll for the next driver, or if you go out for a cup of coffee, buy one for the person behind you.
Perhaps the easiest way to make someone smile is with kind words. Pay a compliment to the cashier or the person next to you in line. Write an uplifting message on a post-it note and stick it on the mirror in a public bathroom or the gym locker room.
 
Share the love, help yourself
Since Valentine’s Day is commonly associated with romantic love, being single can give you space to explore other forms of love and turn your attention to the non-romantic relationships in your life.  
“If you feel bad because you’re single on a day when people are thinking about love, don’t look at it that way,” Perkins said. “There are all kinds of love to be celebrated, and anytime you can think on a positive instead of a negative, it’ll have a better effect on you.”
Spending your Valentine’s Day focused on others is also a much healthier alternative to isolating yourself and dwelling on negative emotions. Plus, whether you’re single or not, doing acts of kindness is a great way to lift your spirit and boost self-esteem.
“I joke sometimes about how selfish it is to give, because it does have such a positive effect on [the giver],” Perkins said. “It’s a different level of happiness. It makes them feel good to feel like they’ve contributed, and they feel love in their heart.” 
For more ideas on how to share the love, and to read inspirational stories about acts of kindness and learn about volunteer and giving opportunities in the Concord area, visit facebook.com/hearts4kindness. 





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