Following an emotional encounter with a bereaved teenager at church, a North Carolina mother decided to offer the community a beautiful feeling that cannot be bought with money. Jordan Roten created signs that read, “Free Mom Hugs,” “Free Dad Hugs,” and visited a local university campus with her husband.
They wanted to give hugs to anyone who needed one and surprisingly there were a lot of recipients. Last year, on November 16, Roten and her partner Matt made their way to the Appalachian State University and hugged over 600 people. As the day ended, the couple was left with full hearts.
Roten soon took to her social media handle to share their amazing experience and the joy they derived from helping strangers. “We held up signs and asked every student, professor, or staff member that passed us if they wanted a hug, and let me just tell you, we hugged until our arms fell off,” she wrote according to The Epoch Times. “We smiled until our cheeks were sore. We gave hundreds of hugs. Happy hugs. Sad hugs. Bear hugs. Rib-cracking, back-breaking hugs.”
While some rushed towards them after noticing the sign, others simply gave them a nod as they passed by but retracted their steps on realizing just how much they needed a hug. There were some who even returned in between classes just to get an extra hug. Most of these students didn’t want to let go, recalled Roten. All in all, it was a success and Roten says she couldn’t have achieved it if she hadn’t met a girl at a church just two weeks before.
“There’s this beautiful girl who’s 16, and she recently lost her mom,” she explained in an interview. “The sermon that Sunday was on grief, and how hope is our anchor in times of grief, and I could just see that that message was really impacting her. … I just felt a nudge in my spirit to go give her a hug.” Seeing the young lady accepting her hug without a second of hesitation, Jordan came up with the idea of offering reassuring hugs to people who needed them.
“Sometimes you just need to be wrapped up by someone,” she said adding how special a hug can be. She explained that the physical touch imparts comfort, value, and dignity to the receiver. Thus, when she discussed the idea with Matt, even he readily volunteered to tag along with her. Recounting some of the most touching interactions, Roten wrote, “We had a few precious hearts melt in our arms because they were overwhelmed with school and exams, and we had a few who told us through tears they weren’t able to go home for the holidays.”
There were some who shared their grief of losing a their parent while being comforted by the couple’s hugs. But what touched Roten was the fact that so many people realized at that point how much they needed a hug. “I’m so overwhelmed by the goodness of God and the way he loves us. Our feet are sore. Our arms are sore. Our ribs are sore. But our hearts are so, so full,” she shared.