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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Secret Admirer: Town Shocked To Discover Batches of Personal Surprises and Gifts

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Over the past year, dozens of people started receiving packages that contained a note and a small jar with their name on it.

“Hi, I’m a compliment jar,” the note read. “When you are feeling sad, angry, lonely, or just need a boost, pick out a piece of paper from inside to read.

“I hope you enjoy and get a little happiness from this gesture, because I think you are amazing!”

The compliments weren’t run-of-the-mill, one-size-fits-all sayings, either. They were crafted for each individual, each one proof that the giver knew the recipient thoroughly.

“You are awkward, in a cute way — like an elevator ride, but with puppies,” read one compliment, according to a recipient’s post.

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“I don’t know if sarcasm is a skill, but you’ve certainly mastered it,” another stated.

“You are just so weird sometimes — it is great,” read a third.

But the notes weren’t signed. There was no name, no way to tell where the little verbal sunshine had come from, other than the handwriting style and the thoughtfulness displayed in the word choices.

Some recipients went to work solving the mystery for themselves, relying on Ring camera footage, zip code look-ups, or simply recognizing the handwriting.

Many posted about the unexpected gift on social media, sending their thanks out in hopes that the giver would see their message and appreciate how much they appreciated the gesture.

“The best way to bring 2020 to a close,” one person wrote. “Found a small, unmarked package in my mail today and these were the contents. No idea who it’s from.

“Sometimes the universe knows exactly what you need. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a wonderful, thoughtful, and caring friend (whoever you are) but please know that this is deeply appreciated. This touched me to the core. The thoughtfulness that went into this is amazing.”

“I hope whoever did give this to me realizes just how much I needed this gift,” wrote another. “I’ve opened it and read one when I needed it, but tonight I dumped it all out and read every single nice thing this person said about me.”

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Eventually, the secret admirer’s identity was revealed: Kimberly Wybenga, 38, of Northglenn, Colorado, had sent those jars in hopes of raising the spirits of her friends and acquaintances during a time when she knew many people were struggling.

Since she’d been discovered despite her best efforts not to, she decided to share her project through a video on YouTube that outlined her intent and the reactions her gifts received in order to encourage more people to participate.

“By far one of my favorite projects,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “Seeing other people happy brought me so much joy. The world is a better place with all my friends and family. Staying anonymous was almost impossible as about 80-90% figured out who sent the package. So I’m now sharing this in the hope this inspires someone else to spread kindness.”

In all, Wybenga sent 50 jars and 1,750 compliments into the world — quite a force for good.

“I know everyone is dealing with some kind of struggle and I just thought it would be nice to support them any way I could, even if I didn’t know what they were going through,” Wybenga told Good News Network.

Her video closes with a reflection and a challenge that she hopes people will pick up and run with.

“During this stressful time, before you speak, ask yourself if you are going to brighten someone’s day or add to the darkness,” she wrote.

“There’s so much we can’t control right now but we can control our words, and the grace and kindness we display. Be the light.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking