Woman Starts ‘Acts of Kindness’ Group To Help People In Need
She's on a mission to create a kindness army in her community – and beyond.
Residents in Golden Valley, MN have been noticing more and more scarves popping up all over town. Wrapped around guardrails on bridges, tied to benches in parks – they seem to appear overnight, and they're gone just as quickly.
It's called "scarf bombing," and Michelle Ungerman Christensen is the woman behind the trend, at least in her neck of the woods.
Christensen first learned about Scarf-Bombing when she read about homeless people who were taking down outdoor yarn art installations to keep themselves warm. Other cities have done similar "bombings" where cold weather items are left in public places for people to take as needed. She wanted to do something similar in her community.
In 2018 she started "One Good Deed," a Twin Cities-based community service group that's dedicated to organizing and performing various acts of kindness, like Scarf-Bombing. A tag is attached to each item with the message, "Take me! I'm Not Lost. I'm Yours."
Christensen, 49, describes her deeds as a "ripple of kindness."
Last winter, she gathered 40 volunteers, and, thanks to an anonymous donation, she chartered a coach bus to pass out thousands of hats, gloves and other clothing items in Minneapolis' Loring Park and St. Paul's Kellogg Park. People who were driving by the park at the time even pulled over, took the coats off of their backs and tied them to trees.
Christensen works with local organizations, including her own employer, Frana Companies, to raise money for her projects. Last year, she was able to raise $5,000 for food, toiletries, wool socks and sleeping backs for the homeless, along with hundreds of other donations from fellow volunteers and do-gooders in the community.
"When [Christensen] puts her mind to something, she does it. There's not even a question of if it's going to get done," Christensen's friend Christine Mielke told the StarTribune. "She knows great people are out there looking for good to be done. She makes it really easy for people to take part. She's gained people's awareness and trust. If you give her an idea, she'll empower you to get it done and set the wheels in motion."
This year, Christensen and her crew of volunteers made denim quilts and personally delivered them to homeless people. Now, she's working on making mats out of "plarn," which is plastic yarn. She uses plastic bags to make them, which people have been providing by the truck load. The bags are stitched into durable mats for individuals to rest on, instead of the concrete.
A "plarn" sleeping mat.One Good Deed/Facebook
Christensen (pictured below, left) has a lot of ideas for One Good Deed – she even has a notebook with a running list of "Good Deed Seeds" – and she is hoping that the initiative will continue to grow.
"One Good Deed came to be because people just really became super-engaged and realized that kindness is incredibly fulfilling and very easy," Christensen said.
"That was the prime directive. Nothing else mattered but the kindness. It started off as my dream and now it's become their dream, too."