This week Love What Matters had to opportunity to interview Jason Wright, founder of the Kindness Card Movement, to learn more about how his inspiring mission to spread hope to unhoused individuals came to fruition. Read on to learn more about the growing movement that has amassed nearly 50,000 followers on social media.
What is the Kindness Card Movement and how did it start?
Jason: “A few years ago, I did a documentary called Getting a Lift which entailed me taking homeless people and hitchhikers where they needed to go. In those videos, we’d often end up having lunch together. It kind of grew into me having really interesting discussions with people I’d just met on park benches, airports, and hotel lobbies.
One day I was speaking at this church for a non-denominational kind of a gig and they gave me a wallet that had about $400 worth of gift cards in it.
They said, ‘We want you to have a vehicle, a tool to be able to give and feed more people in your travels in a slightly more organized way to continue doing what you’re doing.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s awesome!’ That was 18 months ago.
Together we came up with this kind of kindness card thing. I gave those out over the next couple months of my travels and began posting the stories online.
Soon, people started to respond; I’d go to a book signing, or to a speaking gig, or whatever, some event, and people would come up to me and give me a Taco Bell gift card with their initials on the back or their favorite inspiring quote and say, ‘Hey, will you give this away for me on your travels?’
From there, it just kind of grew and grew until people started saying, ‘Hey, can I just Venmo you money, and you go buy the cards in my name.’
Today I’ve given away $15,000 worth of kindness cards in my neighborhood, $5, $10, $15, $25 at a time. I always have them handy in my travels.”
What is a recent Kindness Card story that sticks out to you?
Jason: “I was in Salt Lake City when I saw Raymond near my hotel. It took a little while to get him to open up. Of the hundreds and hundreds of interactions I’ve had, I’ve never had one where the person I talked to was so completely hopeless. It was utterly heartbreaking.
So, I gave him the rest of everything I had, and I tried to get him to use my room for a couple of hours. He was not comfortable with accepting offers, so it was hard to get him to even accept the meals. He didn’t like asking for help.
I usually don’t get emotional when I meet people, but Raymond was a really good, sweet guy in need of hope. While I’ve had a few meetings where I got emotional, with Raymond I just full cried as that guy pushed his home away in that shopping cart. It was in the snow; it was rough.
That story in particular really resonated with people online, I think, because of the heartbreaking nature of his kind of journey.”
What is your reasoning behind the Kindness Card movement?
Jason: “99 percent of the people I meet and give cards to are actually pretty flipping hopeful. Like, they’re grateful to be fed. They’re grateful to be seen.
They’re like, ‘You know what? I’m gonna make it.’ They just feel they need a meal or two, a job interview, and better government assistance. This kindness card movement has kind of become this bridge from hungry to hope. Like, how can we just help someone get another day or two?
Because we’re not going to solve all of the homelessness problem with Taco Bell gift cards, right? That’s not the mission of it. We’re not tackling, and I don’t want anyone to think we’re trying to tackle, major, extremely complicated unhoused problems across the country. That’s not it at all.
It’s just me being a vehicle for other people who, in most cases, are too shy to directly offer these acts of kindness. As my family tells me, I’m the ‘obnoxiously friendly’ kind. I understand that not everyone is like this, and so I’m happy to have those conversations with the homeless.
Yes, we’re feeding people, but more importantly, we’re really feeding people’s souls. And we do that by giving a little bit of a bridge from hungry to hope.
Just tonight on the way to Seattle I conversed with the sweetest man in a wheelchair. We talked for about 10 minutes and I realized it was the conversation that mattered a lot more to him than the two cards to McDonald’s. So, that’s the scoop.”
How can people support the Kindness Card Movement?
Jason: “You may donate funds electronically for cards to be purchased on your behalf, or you may send cards to the address below. (The most common cards are for Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Walmart, Target, etc.)
Venmo: @authorjasonwright (6111)
Cash App: $authorjasonwright
Post Office Box 669
Woodstock, VA 22664”
This interview was conducted and transcribed by Kelsie Radziski and edited by Sophia San Filippo. You can follow Jason’s journey on Facebook and Instagram. Have a story of love, kindness, or healing to share? Visit our submissions portal to submit today.
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