Wait, if you've already got a shirt, this button is for you.

A few years ago, a woman tapped me on the shoulder as I stood in line at a gas station. She'd seen my t-shirt and...

Oh, wait, let me back up a little bit further so you can understand). It actually began a couple years before that day...

I was traveling back and forth between Nashville, TN + West Palm Beach, FL...and had just finished a 12 month span of living out of my car. Yep, that's another story for another time.

I'd been watching these life-giving videos on YouTube of people around the world holding signs and giving away hugs in public places. Something stirred inside. That little tingle I hadn't felt in a while. And that's when an idea formed.

Fast forward a few months later and a box showed up on my doorstep. Inside were about 20 t-shirts, long sleeves, and sweatshirts that simply said Free Hugs. I had committed to myself that I would wear these shirts every single day for one year. No vlogging, no big social campaigns . . . just hugs.

Back to the gas station...I found myself staring into the tear-stained eyes of a middle-aged woman. She sniffled slightly, looking embarrassed. and choked out, “I just got a call that my Mother went into hospice. They said she’s only got a few hours and I don’t know if we can make it to St. Augustine in time…I saw your shirt and I wondered if I could have a hug?” At the moment, I realized I had been listening to her words, but I had also looked down to find a little boy holding her hand and staring straight up at me with confused eyes. My mind snapped back to the current happenings…“Of course you can,” stammered out of my mouth as I wrapped her up. She held on. After a few long seconds, she stepped back and smiled through the sadness, “thank you, I haven’t had a hug in days.”

My heart broke. As I stood there in the middle of this gas station, finding myself in sadness for this stranger and her son, I felt something hit my foot, her son had dropped his bag of chips. I kneeled down to pick them up, and as I did, I felt two little arms wrap around my neck earnestly. As this little boy gave me the warmest hug, my heart shattered again. He grasped tightly, not letting go. We knelt there in that moment for what seemed like an eternity. After we separated and I handed him back his bag, I stood to find her tear-filled eyes looking right at us. “Thank you.” was the next thing I heard. I couldn’t come up with a carefully thought through response, only a choked out, “you’re welcome.” We said our goodbyes there at the counter. She picked up the little boy, reached to grab their food, and headed for the exit.

That's where all of this began. A story about a hug that changed the direction of my life. Funny enough, I've probably been lucky enough to experience enough stories involving hugs for a few lifetimes. See, I help companies tell better stories and grow for a living, but I've been dreaming for a few years about how to build something that could change communities. This isn't the time to tell you the full dream, nope, not yet. This all starts with one, incredibly simple statement

"The world needs more hugs." No matter your background, religion, gender, ethnicity, etc, I haven't met too many people that don't enjoy a good hug, and I'd assume that you haven't either. You might even be reading this hoping to get a hug super soon...and I hope you do. That's all this is to begin with. A message on a t-shirt that will be worn by people all around the world. It's a declaration in a world that showcases the darkness that there's plenty of good still left.

The shirts are currently handprinted by a friend of mine who runs Cyan Shores, a small screenprinting shop in West Palm Beach, Fl.  $5 from every shirt will be going to Inner City Innovators, a 501(c)(3) Florida non-profit corporation committed to breaking the perpetual cycle of youth delinquency and gun violence in the inner city of West Palm Beach. 

More. Hugs.

The shirts are unisex and fit great!
White w/ black print is 52% cotton/48% poly
Black w/ white print is 90% cotton/10% poly

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