Kentucky Sisters Who Started "Be Kind" Movement Get Surprised with Times Square Billboard on TODAY
Now's a good moment for a bit of feel-good news, don't you agree? That's why we were so pleased to see the below clip from Today with Hoda & Jenna on a "Be Kind" community service project from two sweet sisters out of La Grange, Kentucky. Raegan, 11, and Rylyn, 9, of the Richins family, first started the Be Kind Oldham County campaign last year, in which they designed and sold "Be Kind" signs as a way to fundraise for nonprofit organizations and urge residents to be compassionate towards others throughout their days.
On Election Day yesterday, Today co-hosts Jenna Bush Hager and Hoda Kotb caught up with the sisters and their mom Rhonda to learn more about their special project in La Grange.
Inititally, the sisters kicked off their efforts in 2019 after seeing similar signs in LaRue County, Kentucky, and thinking it was a great idea. With three children with disabilities in their family, the Richins know firsthand the power of generosity from strangers in the face of life's hardships and wanted to do their part to pay it forward after receiving an outpouring of support when one of their daughters was in the hospital. From its humble origins, the girls' grassroots initiative took on a life of its own, eventually catching the mayor's attention and inspiring the town to be officially named the "Kindness Capital of Kentucky."
On day-to-day life for local residents, so too has the project made a meaningful difference. "We have seen kindness change our county by everyone being kind because when we go to the store everyone is being kind to each other. It's just doing the simple things like smiling, or waving, or holding a door open that makes someone's day," Reagan reflects on how the project has changed their community on Today. "And that's why we make all our signs different because you can be kind in many different ways. And you never know what someone's going through so you want to do the best that you can to make someone smile so you can make their day better."
Clearly moved by this young girls' wisdom, Kotb jokes, "Rhonda, what's in the water in your house? Because we all want a drink." In addition to wanting to know their family's secret for their positive outlook, Kotb and Bush Hager wanted to celebrate of the sisters' accomplishments by revealing several big surprises. Little did the family know, but the Today team had producers all over the country, from Arizona to Maine, Alaska to Vermont, display "Be Kind" signs in their comunities, and Kentucky's mayor even showed up to hold his poster in the virtual mosaic. Then, the hosts revealed that a giant billboard in New York City's Times Square also had the "Be Kind" message emblazoned on it, considered the most sought-after billboard in the entire country. The Richins also received a shout-out from actor, model, and down syndrome advocate, Sofia Sanchez and a $500 Staples gift card to use towards making more signs. Watch the video segment below and prepare to lean into a rollercoaster of feelings.
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What can you do today to show kindness towards other in your community? We know we're grabbing some markers and poster board.