Sanford extends Random Acts of Kindness Day all month

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

Two women talk over a gift shop counter. Random Acts of Kindness Day lasted the month of February at the Sanford Gift Shop.

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

Jade Delaney, a major gifts officer for the Sanford Health Foundation, whole-heartedly believes in kindness. That’s why she decided just one day celebrating kindness wasn’t enough. Neither was a whole week.

“We want to have a culture of kindness here. We have just been surprising people for the last couple of weeks in preparation for Random Acts of Kindness Day,” said Delaney.

She and her 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 wonderful Children’s Miracle Network advocate, and someone who is always willing to do whatever for us here at the foundation. For example, he took on the dunk tank last year for our Dunk-A-Doctor event.

“We went to go surprise him, but on our way to the children’s hospital, we actually found him in the hallway. Our plan quickly had to be tossed out the window and we had to go to plan B. We ran up, surprised him, hugged him, and he actually cried. It meant a lot to me. I know it meant a lot to him,” said Delaney.

Delaney’s 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.”

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

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