If you live in Virginia, you may have seen the signs popping up around town, hanging from mailboxes or posted in front yards.
Simple pieces of wood, painted white, decorated with red hearts and bearing the message “Be Kind.”
They’re not only here in the Fredericksburg area. They’re at homes, schools and businesses in Richmond, Alexandria and Fairfax County—and even in Hawaii, Nova Scotia and Australia!
“I’ve made over 550 signs now and it’s global. This thing is turning into a movement.”
Bonnell, a former Fredericksburg resident who now lives in Richmond, makes each sign in her garage. She isn’t an artist—she’s a retired real estate administrator—and says she doesn’t know how any of this came from her hands.
Bonnell said that at the beginning of the year, she was struggling to deal with the barrage of bad news and negativity coming at her through television, radio and social media.
One day in February, Bonnell decided she had to do something to combat the waves of darkness she felt were battering her. She found an old white board and set it up outside her house.
After the white board lost its battle against winter weather, Bonnell decided to write her message of positivity on something more permanent and made her first “Be Kind” sign.
Neighbors started noticing the sign and asking if they could have one. Bonnell started making more and giving them away to anyone who asked. Like the Mayor of Richmond!
A woman she went to high school with called her and told her she had worked in Fairfax County Schools for 45 years and could get the signs into each of the 193 schools in the division.
Requests for signs started coming in faster and faster—for Virginia Blood Services’ mobile units and donor stations, for Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s office, for the Diamond, Richmond’s minor league baseball stadium.
At the same time, volunteers started offering to help Bonnell make signs. People donated wood. A neighbor she’d never talked to before gave her a chainsaw. Whatever she needed to make the signs always seemed to appear.
“The message I want to get out to people is that kindness is a choice,” Bonnell said.
“When you’re in a position where you have to make a decision and if you’re not sure what the right decision is, choose kindness. If you’re kind, you’ll always be right.”