I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been scrolling through Facebook, came upon a story that moved me, and just kept on absentmindedly scrolling to the next funny cat video, despite the inspiration I just received.
I’m willing to bet most people would say the same. But not Lynda Salisbury.
The Indiana mom recently saw a Facebook post pop up in her newsfeed and actually did something to change her community for the better — further proving that social media may have its faults, but it can also be an incredible way to inspire action, too.
In the Facebook post, Salisbury saw that people in larger cities were creating a small movement to help families in need during the cold winter months, by tying scarves around trees for the homeless. She was struck by the small, but moving gesture, and started to take notice of people in her own neighborhood who were walking outside without good winter clothing on.
“I asked some where they were going and found out that these people were hard workers who were walking to their jobs to provide for their families living paycheck to paycheck for survival,” she tells Babble. “They were walking to the grocery store and carrying bags of groceries home to their children.”
So, instead of looking the other way, Salisbury decided to take action and join the mission to help others in her own community. Last month, she created what she now calls “The Blessing Fence” — an idea that’s already catching on in communities all around her.
“The Blessing Fence is anonymous giving for anonymous receiving,” Salisbury shares. “Anyone who has gently-used winter items or wants to give may come to the fence and hang those items at any time of the day.”
Salisbury explains that in order to remain convenient for everyone, it’s “open” 24 hours, 7 days a week, and works on an honor system. “There is no record of the givers or receivers,” she adds.
She says that as she watches people take the things they need — and watches her neighbors replenish the fence with donations — she has realized that there’s a reverence about the whole experience on both sides.
“The response is beyond my imagination,” she shares. “We started with hanging scarves. Now, the community has taken it upon themselves to give gloves, hats, coats, snow boots, work boots, wool socks, fleece blankets, sweatshirts, winter work shirts, and flannels.”
Salisbury also says that she loves taking time to hear the stories of both the givers and the receivers, which has truly underscored for her that “giving is contagious.” She shares their stories on her Facebook page too, with the hope that more people will join in the movement.
Salisbury says that watching the fence fill up and then go empty, in a continuous rotation of charity, has been the greatest blessing of her life. She’s also been touched by the fact that the rest of her family has joined in on the experience, too, and hopes that the Blessing Fence will inspire others to give back however they can in their own communities, as well.
But what I find most beautiful of all about this story is how it seems to create a healing process for everyone involved. This time of year, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of the holidays, and forget that there are simple ways we can reach out and help each other. And that’s precisely why the Blessing Fence is such an incredible idea.
“I have learned that people are kind,” Salisbury tells Babble. “There is more good in the world than what we give credit to or hear about. I have also learned that giving anonymously is magical.”
I’d have to agree.
Salisbury’s story has inspired me to go out and find a need in my own community and fill it — even if it’s as simple as a friendly hug, smile, or a scarf hung on a tree in my front yard. Giving doesn’t have to be complicated, and helping others is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves, too.
To learn more about The Blessing Fence, visit Salisbury’s official Facebook page.