Human Interest

Five years ago, members of a women’s hiking group made their way along a trail in Long Canyon.

Their subject of discussion: Ben’s Bells, a kindness-promoting effort that had recently sprouted up in Tucson.

Hikers Jawn McKinley and Sandy Brandvold latched onto the idea of doing something similar — only instead of distributing pottery bells, they would distribute kindness charms crafted from broken, recycled and surplus donated jewelry.

“The world seemed to be on such a dark path that year, and spreading kindness seemed the only way we could spread light,” McKinley said. “We began collecting jewelry, designed and ordered weatherproof tags to attach to and hang the charms by and acquired crystal and pottery hearts to hang on each one.”

Fifteen women began assembling the charms. The first distribution went out in May 2011.

“Since then, we’ve sent over 4,000 kindness charms to every state in the country and around the world,” McKinley added. “Our ‘charmers’ take them along whenever they travel, and here in Sedona we hide them. They seem to find the people who need them the most.”

Every two months, volunteers made and spread kindness charms. In 2015, they decided to expand their efforts and impact. SedonaKind was born as a result.

“In a meeting at our wonderful library, over 40 women  met to create a mission statement, a name, a logo and begin the process of creating a website,” McKinley said. “So far we have three committees: Outreach handles communication and PR, Kindness in Schools will be working with teachers and kids and Operation Special Delivery is a secret Valentine’s Day project that you’ll just have to watch for.”

Recently, SedonaKind did more than simply make plans, joining itself under the nonprofit umbrella of Cornucopia Community Advocates. According to McKinley, the organization will allow SedonaKind to take tax deductible donations on its own website.

“Our mission statement is, ‘To encourage acts of kindness, large and small, locally and around the world,’” McKinley concluded. “We truly believe that there is no act of kindness, however small, that doesn’t make a big difference.”


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