I’m not sure, in my lifetime, that I have felt as emotionally drained as I do right now. Between family illnesses, lack of sleep and what happened in Connecticut last week, I haven’t been able to find a lot of room for happy thoughts. Just as I began to sink into hibernation, I received an email from the PR department at Tim Hortons.
The last thing I was looking for was to start working on a new project. My plate was already pretty full and I have to keep reminding myself that blogging is a hobby and not my real job. Before I opened the email, I had already located my standard, copy and paste, “Thanks but I can’t accept any new projects at this time” response. Luckily, I read the email because what they were proposing was the exact thing I needed at that very moment.
They were offering to send me 50 – $5 gift cards for their Random Cups of Kindness promotion, that I was allowed to hand out to whoever I saw fit. I accepted immediately and waited with anticipation for the cards to arrive. I wasn’t really sure how I was going to distribute the cards and as it turns out, the experience was a lot more uplifting than I could have imagined.
I began my adventure by leaving two cards at the Tim Hortons drive-thru, for the next two cars in line. The person at the window looked at me like I was nuts but by the end of the week; they were expecting me and knew the drill. I never saw any of the recipients of the gift cards but I was encouraged by how happy it made the employees inside the store. I was determined to not let my pneumonia slow down my mission and soldiered on. I surprised parents and teachers at my son’s school. I visited a couple stores that I constantly get excellent customer service from and surprised them with special gifts. I handed them out to people who looked like they hadn’t smiled in a long time and I even gave one to Santa Claus at the mall, because, well, Santa needs love too!
Just watching the smiles on people’s faces as I handed them the cards would have been enough for me to enjoy the experience, but hearing comments like “I really needed this” and “You really have made my day”, pushed the experience over the top. Oddly enough, my favourite part of the campaign came when my daughter fell and cut her mouth, which sent us to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Don’t worry, she is fine and didn’t require any stitches, but it gave me the chance to hand out gift cards to parents of sick kids and also to some of the wonderful staff at CHEO. This was the point where I really started getting emotional about what I had been fortunate enough to be a part of.
It might sound silly and exaggerated, and I’ll never be able to accurately capture my feelings in words but this experience has really changed me. It’s changed the way I interpret what is important in my life versus what is unnecessary extras. Giving is important. Making people smile is important. Helping others is important and family is the most important of them all. Money and feuds and impatience and anger are not important, they are just distractions from what we should really be focusing on.
I realize that Tim Hortons’ “Random Cups of Kindness” was a marketing campaign designed to create a buzz for the brand, but whether they realized it or not, they have touched some people’s lives at a time when it was most important to do so. There was no compensation for this campaign, nor was any expected. I wasn’t required to write, tweet, speak or do anything else but hand out the cards and bring smiles to people’s faces, which I gladly did.
I want to say Thank You to Tim Hortons for including me in this amazing promotion and for restoring my faith in the good things that people are capable of doing for each other. They were only $5 gift cards but I am a different person for having done it. If more big companies did what you have just done, the world would be a better place, even if only a little bit better.
Happy Holidays Everyone! I am wishing nothing but the best for all of you in the New Year!