A man was sitting on a bench near the wharf in Auckland, New Zealand. His friend had died recently—the second friend to die in the past month. He had no job, and no place to stay as of the next morning.
“I was like frozen, I didn’t know what to do next,” recalled the man, who preferred to remain unnamed. “You know, life is hard, but there are some days that are really hard. That day was one of those days. As I sat there looking into nothing, there comes this young guy. He talks to me. I think I may have been even rude.
“I don’t want no preaching, I don’t want to buy nothing. Well he smiled still. He hands something to me. I say, ‘What’s this for?’ He simply replies, still smiling, ‘That’s just a present, a chocolate, that’s for you.'”
This account came from a man who wrote to the Love This City campaign to say how important this act of kindness was to him. Love This City organizes people to drop love bombs on strangers.
They pick someone at random in a public place in Auckland. One by one they go up to that person from different directions and each give him or her a small gift, like the chocolate this man received. It’s known as “love bombing.”
“The present wasn’t a chocolate,” he continued. “It was hope and it was love. The tag [on the chocolate] said simply, ‘You are loved.’ … It took me from the dark of that day and made [me] feel like it wasn’t all lost. … It was a week ago. I still keep the tag and read it everyday: ‘You are loved.’ … May you harvest what you sow tenfold.”
Jenna Scullin, who started the campaign with her husband two years ago, said this man’s life was totally different when he contacted her a week after being love bombed. He found somewhere to live and he was in a better place altogether.
“One morning early in 2014 I felt a sense that God really wanted people to know how loved they were and that people needed to see love with no agenda and with nothing required in return,” she said.
She made love bomb packages, and designed cards that read “You’ve been love bombed.” She also designed cards that read, “Thank you for serving our city.” Those are for the bus drivers, police officers, and many others who Scullin felt needed to be reminded that they are appreciated.
More than 400 people eager to spread love showed up for the first event.
One love bombing stood out to Scullin in particular, because she became friends with the bombee. The love bombers don’t collect the contact information of the people they bomb, but sometimes the people are so moved they get in touch with Love This City afterward, which this woman did.
The woman, whose name has been withheld, wrote to Scullin after she was bombed: “I am currently six months pregnant, alone with the father not around anymore. Although I don’t practice any kind of religion, I do find myself complaining to God about not guiding me or protecting me like people say he … should, but most of all lately for not loving me.”
She had considered suicide. “My silent prayers and complaints have finally been answered,” she said. “I can now stop thinking about ending my life and live knowing that at least someone out there loves me.”
Scullin stayed in touch with her: “I was part of her journey through the rest of her pregnancy and the birth of her baby. … That was incredible, going into the hospital the day after she’s given birth to this baby that she might not have had—both of them might not have been around.”
Love bombs are starting to drop on other cities in New Zealand and around the world. Scullin has helped six groups in the United States get started.
“I’ve heard from a few people that, in New York, there’s no better city on the planet to have a Love This City event,” she said. “Everywhere, on every street corner, there’s somebody who needs to know they’re loved.”