Sanford extends Random Acts of Kindness Day all month

Medical center gift shop inspired a streak of people 'paying it forward'

Sanford extends Random Acts of Kindness Day all month

Feb. 17 is National Random Acts of Kindness Day. That kind spirit was alive and well all month at Sanford Health.

The Sanford Health Foundation whole-heartedly believes in kindness. That’s why they decided just one day celebrating kindness wasn’t enough. Neither was a whole week.

The team started thinking of Sanford employees, volunteers and members of the community who embody what kindness means.

From there, it was over two weeks of kind surprises and gifts, handed out to the most deserving people.

Surprising the security guard

One of those people was Cal Hilligas.

Hilligas is a security guard at Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. His loving and caring demeanor makes everyone feel safe.

He is a Children’s Miracle Network advocate, and he is always willing to do whatever needs to be done for the Sanford Health Foundation. For example, he took on the dunk tank in their Dunk-A-Doctor event.

On the way to the children’s hospital, the foundation team found him in the hallway. They had to quickly pivot from plan A to plan B. So they ran up, surprised him, hugged him, and he cried. It meant a lot to him.

The team surprised many others. However, they weren’t the only ones carrying out kindness.

The entire Sanford organization got behind the movement.

Kindness in the gift shop

Kim Corcoran works in the gift shop at the Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls.

At the beginning of the day, Corcoran’s boss told the staff to start a small “pay it forward” project.

If any customer or Sanford employee came to the shop for something small — like their daily pack of gum, or afternoon snack — Corcoran and the staff told them “it was taken care of,” and to pay it forward.

“The first thing that happened was a gentleman had kind of paid it forward for the next person. The next person in line then paid it forward. It just kept going on and on, until at the end of the day, we actually had money left over because there were so many kind people that wanted to pay it forward,” said Corcoran.

Sabra Shields manages the retail locations in Sioux Falls.

She says Sanford goes to these lengths to make sure everyone who walks through the doors, no matter their situation, feels welcome and wanted. That’s what makes the organization so special to her.

“We had a family where they had a stillborn baby, a grandchild. They were having a hard time even just picking out the gifts. They’re in such tears. We just made sure that by the time they left, they had the things that they needed, and didn’t let them pay for it. We just told them that we are taking care of it. You know, it’s one of the hardest days of their lives. We hope that they can look back, and have that one bright moment.”

Learn more

Posted In Community, Foundation, People & Culture, Workplace Health