As the saying goes, a small act of kindness can go a long way.
And a simple blue pumpkin at South Hill Mall is spreading the word.
“Blue the Pumpkin” is part of the Malls and Retailers Unite Against Bullying initiative, which consists of malls around the nation that unite to inform their communities about the effects of bullying.
“It just seemed to kind of fit nicely,” South Hill Mall marketing director Patty Summers said. “We like to do events that showcase our involvement in the community and our community values.”
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And at a place where families and kids make a frequent appearance, one of those values is kindness.
“One little act of kindness can change someone’s life,” Summers said.
The blue pumpkin stands out to visitors of the patch, which is located in front of Dick’s Sporting Goods.
“‘Blue the Pumpkin’ is that color to teach children that the things that make us different also make the world beautiful. ‘Blue’ reminds us that inclusion and celebrating diversity is important to a community,” said Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for The Cafaro Company, which owns the South Hill Mall.
‘Blue the Pumpkin’ is that color to teach children that the things that make us different also make the world beautiful. ‘Blue’ reminds us that inclusion and celebrating diversity is important to a community.
Joe Bell, director of communications at The Cafaro Company
The pumpkin isn’t the first instance of South Hill Mall’s call to prevent bullying. The mall coordinates with National Bullying Prevention Month in October. On Oct. 14, the mall partnered with Exceptional Families Network to throw a Dare2BExceptional Walk to raise money to benefit special needs programs.
“We always have something going on,” Summers said.
While “Blue the Pumpkin” is new this year, South Hill Mall has been involved with Malls and Retailers Unite Against Bullying since its creation in 2012. Phyllis Cafaro, vice president of marketing for The Cafaro Company, set out to create the initiative in 2012.
“She had a big passion for children being treated properly,” Bell said. “So she wanted to create something in shopping malls that helped children in some fashion.”
Cafaro created a line of children’s books called “Captain McFinn and Friends” that encourages children to make positive changes in the world. Shortly after, she created Malls and Retailers Unite Against Bullying with similar goals. Now, more than 350 shopping malls have adopted the program.
“Blue the Pumpkin” can be found at the South Hill Mall until the end of October. Visitors are encouraged to snap and post a picture on social media with the hashtag #SHMPatch to be entered to win a $25 South Hill Mall gift card, and to continue to spread the word.
“People will look at it and want a blue pumpkin and that’s where the story begins,” Bell said. “As people become more familiar with that, it just helps the conversation (to continue).”
“I just think it’s a nice little reminder,” Summers said.