ROCHESTER, NY - The Levine Center to End Hate has unveiled a unique campaign to express gratitude for loved ones and community members through personalized notes called LoveGrams. This initiative encourages individuals to forge meaningful connections in the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day.
Running from February 1-14, the campaign follows Governor Hochul's recent efforts to combat the surge in hate crimes across New York state. The Governor's office is proposing a $60 million budget dedicated to addressing the alarming 400% increase in threats towards Jewish and Muslim residents since October 7th.
"Since the despicable Hamas attacks on October 7, hate crimes against Jewish and Muslim New Yorkers have been on the rise. We've also witnessed hate-fueled violence against Black residents in Buffalo, as well as disturbing harassment of AAPI and LGBTQ+ individuals on the streets of New York City. We are committed to ensuring the safety of all New Yorkers, regardless of their identity, who they love, or how they worship," stated Hochul during the State of the State address in Albany in January.
Monica Gebell, Director of the Levine Center, emphasized, "We believe that acts of kindness and love are powerful tools to counter hate. This temporary initiative aims to remind people that they are appreciated and loved. It's a small step that any of us can take to brighten someone else's day, week, or month."
Partnering with organizations such as St Joseph Neighborhood Center, Volunteers of America, and the Veterans Outreach Center, the Levine Center offers the opportunity to send a LoveGram to one of Rochester's "unsung heroes" who selflessly serve in these organizations. However, individuals can also honor workers at any community-supporting organization nationwide. The Levine Center will send a customized LoveGram, either via traditional mail or electronically, in time for Valentine's Day.
"This is an opportunity to honor the teachers who go the extra mile or the bus driver who greets you with a smile and a 'Good Morning'," Gebell explained. "I draw inspiration from local barbers who provide free haircuts to those in need and a woman in my neighborhood who distributes essential kits to the homeless. It's a way to show them that we recognize their invaluable contributions to our community and that we care."
LoveGrams serves as the latest initiative in the Levine Center's "Spread Love. End Hate." campaign, which began with their Concert to End Hate last autumn. The organization is actively recruiting Love Ambassadors to support future endeavors aimed at combating hate in Greater Rochester.
"Love should be shared and celebrated by everyone," emphasized Gebell. "Through these LoveGrams, we strive to create a ripple effect of kindness and warmth, fostering meaningful connections while advancing our mission to eradicate hate in our community. Join us in building a world where everyone is seen, valued, and cherished."
Individuals interested in sending a LoveGram can do so through the Levine Center website at endhateroc.org/lovegram. Orders for notes sent via regular mail will close on Thursday, February 8th, while orders for electronic notes will close on Sunday, February 11th.