If you could give a stranger a gift that costs you nothing but makes their day, what would you give?

A hug?  A listening ear?  A kind word?

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There are a number of ‘Free Hug’ campaigns happening in the world that bring peace, respect and comfort to random strangers.

Juan Mann is an Australian native who was living abroad and found himself in hard times. Having to return home, he was not greeted at the airport with friends and family, instead he had to forge his own path.

In his own words, after arriving back in his home town;

“Standing there in the arrivals terminal, watching other passengers meeting their waiting friends and family, with open arms and smiling faces, hugging and laughing together, I wanted someone out there to be waiting for me. To be happy to see me. To smile at me. To hug me.”

So, he did something about it, he took a piece of cardboard and a marker and wrote “Free Hugs” on both sides, then stood in a busy intersection holding the sign. What happened next is what the true human spirit is all about.

“The first person who stopped, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how her dog had just died that morning. How that morning had been the one year anniversary of her only daughter dying in a car accident. How what she needed now, when she felt most alone in the world, was a hug. I got down on one knee, we put our arms around each other and when we parted, she was smiling.”

More locally, my good friend, Cheri,Mcleod, started a free hugs campaign in a local park in London, Ontario. Cheri’s birthday falls one day before Earth Day, and she decided to celebrate by baking Earth Day cupcakes and taking them out to share with strangers while offering free hugs. She was told by one person that it wouldn’t work, that person was wrong. In Cheri’s own words “I needed hugs, so did other people.”

You can follow Cheri here

Follow Free Hugs London ON here

Cheri has since moved on to another location and exciting new adventures.  Amanda Stark, also from London is continuing the work Cheri started. Once a month there is a pop up ‘Free Hug’ event that is announced on their Facebook page “Free Hugs #LonOnt”.

We are in a time where humanity everywhere is faced with hardships and whether you are experiencing it first hand or being inundated by the media, if you could stand one afternoon in a local park and offer the gift of a free hug to someone, you would be making a difference.

We here at AnswerPlus offer virtual hugs everyday. Whether it is one of our agents offering a kind word to someone in distress, or is simply available on the other line to listen. We are in the business of helping people, although it happens over a telephone line, sometimes people need a hug, sometimes they need an ear, that is what call centre agents specialize in.