It was the ending to a news story that no one in Minnesota wanted to see happen: the body of Jacob Wetterling was found earlier this month, nearly 27 years after he was abducted. Support for the Wettering family has poured in from all over the country. The family has announced plans for a public memorial service to take place this coming Sunday, Sept. 25.
But when asked what people could do for her, this was Patty Wetterling’s response: “Say a prayer. Light a candle. Be with friends. Play with your children. Giggle. Hold hands. Eat ice cream. Create joy. Help your neighbor. That is what will bring me comfort today.”
Some community members took that straight to heart and created #CreateJoy Day, which will take place on Oct. 1. One of the event’s founders, Kate-Madonna Hindes, recently answered some questions about the initiative.
How did the idea start?
“I was eight years old when Jacob was taken,” said Hindes. “All these years, I’ve been so deeply touched by Patty’s words, grace, kindness, and solutions. And then this. I wanted to do something for her.”
Hindes wasn’t alone. She banded together with several other like-minded people and focused on Wetterling’s statement above, of which “create joy” seemed most emblematic.
“We just felt we could do something amazing and big here,” Hindes said. “There’s so much combativeness right now, people just grab onto something kind.”
There are several aspects of #CreateJoy. First is a fundraiser to build a playground in Jacob’s honor and, hopefully, in his name.
“It will be a place where kids of all abilities and come and play,” said Hindes.
But specifically for Oct. 1, there are several plans around the idea of creating joy.
“We’ve been reaching out to local businesses and nonprofits to see how they could help or how they could use help,” said Hindes. “We’re lining up opportunities for people to help food shelves by stacking and donating food, or to help churches by weeding the grounds, or help elderly people with things like organizing their garage or getting their lawns mowed.”
For information on how to sign up to volunteer, click here.
Many of the opportunities are in the St. Joseph area, but don’t consider geography a limitation, Hindes noted.
“We’d barely announced this when we began getting inquiries from as far away as Hawaii,” she said. “People really want to help.”
So the group comprised a list of suggestions—to be used strictly as a starting point, because there are myriad ways to create joy—for people who aren’t in the area that can be done on Oct. 1 (or any day, really), including:
Give Purposefully. Whether you’re in line at the drive-thru, or waiting to pay your bill at the coffee shop, carry post-its with you. Leave hashtagged notes for the person behind you with a few dollars to pay for their drink. Don’t forget to say #CreateJoy!
Be Inclusive. Ask to sit with someone who’s eating alone. Encourage your children to make friends who are new and different. Sometimes, the most joyous moments are ones where we feel respected and loved.
Find a Cause. If you’re unable to travel to the St. Joseph area, find an organization or community that needs your help. Stock a food shelf or organize donations. Pick weeds or cut your neighbor’s lawn—just because! By doing one thing in an extraordinary way, you’ll be making the world a much better place.
“We can’t make the best out of this situation, but we can try and take some of the worst out of it,” said Hindes. “We don’t get to see the good in people often enough. This will give people the chance to both give and receive joy.”
What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.