Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce

Todd Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce; Theresa Agresta, owner of Allegory Studios and CultureTalk and the 2019 Chair of the Chamber’s Board; and Kevin Hedley, of Hedley & Company, and the 2020 Chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, left to right, hold Leap of Kindness Day thank you cards handed out to everyone at the Chamber’s annual dinner last month.

CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce is once again urging organizations, businesses, and nonprofits throughout the county to join them in performing acts of kindness on February’s extra day, leap day Feb. 29.

Leap of Kindness Day was created in 2016 by the county’s Chamber of Commerce as a special day to do good for others. The day is so special it only arrives every four years.

Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce announced the return of the initiative in front of hundreds of Saratoga County business leaders at the organization’s 102nd Annual Dinner on Jan. 23.

At the dinner members of the organization handed out Leap of Kindness Day “Thank You” cards urging all those attending to write and send a thank you note on Feb. 29 to someone who made a positive difference in their life.

“We invented Leap of Kindness Day in 2016 and it spread to chambers and communities in more than 30 states,” Shimkus said. “Locally, we had dozens of organizations and hundreds of people that did something incredibly kind for thousands of people across Saratoga County on the extra day we all get every leap year.”

This year the organization is working with more local nonprofits than 2016 to get requests as to what their needs and matching them up with organizations that can run drives to collect those items.

“We’re also hoping local organizations will again find other creative ways to do something kind for first responders, public safety agencies, teachers, direct care workers for those with disabilities, nursing home residents and employees, children in local hospitals, crossing guards, and so many others who make our lives here that much better,” Shimkus said.

Nonprofits that have listed ideas already for participating in 2020’s Leap of Kindness Day include Habitat for Humanity, Mechanicville Area Community Services Center, Franklin Community Center, CAPTAIN CHS Family Services, Shelters of Saratoga, The Wesley Community, The Salvation Army, Kelly’s Angels, Saratoga County Equal Opportunity Council, as well as the Backstretch Employee Service Team.

ChamberMaster, a firm that provides software solutions to chambers across the country, honored Leap of Kindness Day as the most innovative Chamber Program of 2016.

Indeed, a quick internet search of the term found Chambers of Commerce as near as Cortland and Ulster counties and as far as Chesaning, Mich. and Chillicothe, Ohio are participating in the initiative this year. Each Chamber’s website noted also that the innovative use of leap day for doing good deeds had originated in Saratoga County.

As the 2016 leap of Kindness Day drew near the dining service at Skidmore College planned to donate dinner to Code Blue while ACO Property Advisors planned on donating canned goods to Franklin community Center Food Pantry. Polyset was another organization that took part four years ago by serving breakfast and lunch to those on-duty members of the Clifton park & Halfmoon Emergency Corps.

Other organizations that took part in 2016 included the DA Collins Company which collected food for the Shelters of Saratoga, the Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs that offered all veterans a free meal on the special day and the Gideon Putnam Hotel which donated cases of shampoo and conditioner to Operation Adopt a Soldier.

Organizations that have contacted Shimkus and his staff about their needs for the 2020 day include the Mechanicville Area Community Services Center, Clifton Park-Halfmoon EMS, and the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library.

The Mechanicville Area Community Services Center is short on household cleaning products, personal care items, and pet supplies while the Clifton Park-Halfmoon EMS is looking to raise $500 to buy critical safety items like hearing aid batteries, smoke alarm batteries, canes, walkers and food for home-bound patients.

The Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library is working with CAPTAIN CHS to collect funds to support CAPTAIN’s outreach programs including their Street Outreach Project and Youth Shelter.

The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce expects to add more nonprofit requests as they are received. Nonprofits, businesses and individuals that decide to participate are asked to post their Leap of Kindness Day plans and to use the hashtag #leapofkindnessday so the Chamber can track and share all of these acts of kindness.

For more information, please visit www.saratoga.org/foundation/leap-of-kindness-day-2020/ or call the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce at 518-534-3255.

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