REGION — Shopping at Flower Hill Promenade this summer will do more than grow the local economy. It will also sow the seeds of kindness through a variety of installations, activities and community and charity events called “Growing Kindness in Sunshine.”
The four-month program, which runs through August, was created to “celebrate the many acts of kindness we see every day and support people and organizations in our communities working hard to make a difference through those acts of kindness,” Jeffrey Essakow, real estate developer and Flower Hill managing partner, said.
“There are a lot of little things that can help people exercise that kindness muscle,” Marrissa Mallory of J Public Relations added.
In the middle of the shopping complex, located on Via de la Valle just east of Interstate 5, is a wishing tree, where shoppers can write down a wish and place it in a glass bottle hanging from the branches.
A “Noodling Around with Color” display hangs above the central plaza, and the “Today I Feel …” wall, strategically located outside Core Yoga, can help patrons get in touch with their emotions by selecting and wearing a button that includes sentiments from playful and awesome to annoyed and blue.
The mall plans to track daily feelings based on the number of buttons removed from each category.
Through a partnership with about a dozen San Diego charities, Flower Hill will help raise funds for and awareness of each organization.
A vertical hanging garden was created to benefit Feeding San Diego. A harvest party will be held when the food is ripe for picking. The produce, which includes everything from tomatoes and artichokes to strawberries and eggplant, will be donated to the nonprofit.
Cake4Kids, which bakes, decorates and delivers birthday cakes to foster children and at-risk youth, will hold cake walks June 9, July 14 and Aug. 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Voices of Our City Choir will perform from 1 to 2 p.m. July 14. The 65-member ensemble, made up primarily by San Diego’s homeless population, will be showcased this month on the PBS documentary, “The Homeless Choir Speaks.”
Charity Wings Art & Craft Center will be on hand to help youngsters make unicorn headbands. The San Marcos organization partners with other charities to provide the “gift of art” to those who would benefit from creative ways of self-expression or healing, such as the disabled community and low-income families.
When she’s not at a speaking event to promote her charity, Child Hunger Sucks, 9-year-old Ever Matson will be at Flower Hill selling lollipops to help feed hungry children.
Ever said she started the organization after serving meals to those in need through her father’s nonprofit.
“At the end of the day, I got to go home,” she said. “They didn’t. It’s scary for those kids to be on the street, so I decided to turn something bitter into something sweet.
“I’m in the business of doing good,” she added. “Every child needs a champion, and every child deserves a chance.”
Since starting Child Hunger Sucks last year, Ever said she’s raised enough money for 10,000 meals. Her goal this year is 1 million.
Although Essakow acknowledges online shopping has created challenges for brick-and-mortar shopping centers, he said the program is more about philanthropy than finances.
“There’s so much chaos in the news this year that we decided to develop a concept to grow kindness, where people could come here, support a cause and pay it forward,” he said. “Every 10,000-mile journey begins with one step.
“We want San Diego to be that first step,” he added. “This is not about promoting Flower Hill. It’s about promoting kindness.”
Before leaving Flower Hill, shoppers can express what they never got to say on the “Having the Last Word” wall. They will also be reminded of the theme before driving away with sayings such as “Spread the Love,” which have been painted in some of the parking stalls.
Visit flowerhill.com for more information and a schedule of the do-it-yourself workshops and charity-based events.