Two months ago Alan Swaim was wondering why he was still here.
He had been in very poor health and knew that there was still something to be done in his life. One night, Swaim prayed and asked God what he wanted him to do. Three days later, while Swaim was driving up Interstate 49 to Springdale, he got his answer.
Swaim saw two men, in a violent fit of road rage, trying to run each other off the highway at 80 mph.
This senseless case of anger and violence inspired him to pray for the two individuals.
“The next morning God woke me up at 3 a.m. with a very clear message,” Swaim said. “Let’s spread friendship, kindness, and love throughout the River Valley.”
He contemplated how he would achieve something like that and decided he would spread positive messages through yard signs.
To begin he ordered 60 signs with the help of PAC Printers.
“They actually picked the purple background for me, which I love. They are real attention getters,” Swaim said.
He assumed he was being overly ambitious with that many signs, and thought that he would only distribute about 40 or 50.
The signs can be seen sporting a purple background with sayings such as “Spread A Little Kindness,” “Love One Another,” “Your Life Matters,” and “Be Kind Always.”
After a Facebook post was made about the signs, he realized he would need more signs.
“I posted on Facebook what I wanted to do and I, almost immediately, had requests for all 60 of the signs. So I ordered 60 more, and 60 more, and 60 more.”
People began seeing them in others yards and the requests for more signs kept coming in. In all, 420 signs were distributed before a local TV station noticed and aired a story on him. This caused another bombardment of requests. Swaim moved from ordering 60 signs at a time to ordering 100 and 200 signs. Since the last order he placed he is up to 1,900 signs.
“Several people have sent me donations to help me offset some of my cost for the signs, which is greatly appreciated,” Swaim said.
His mission is not just contained to the River Valley now. Swaim says wants to take the mission to Nebraska in the spring, followed by Allen, Texas, and possibly Tucson, Ariz.; Huntsville, Ala., and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
“One of my high school classmates, Ellen Hornberger Masterson has piggy-backed off of my mission and started the mission in Childress, Texas area,” Swaim said. “At last count she was up to 500 signs distributed. One of my former baseball players, Darren Haney, has also started the mission in Charleston.”
Since he has health issues, Swaim had help delivering signs.
“The blessing to me is that I have met some of the nicest people folks with great stories, folks that need encouragement, and some folks with sad stories,” he added
With today’s teen suicide rate, alarming bullying, violence, and hatred, Swaim hopes to bring back kinder and gentler times.
Alan Swaim said he can be contacted by the public on Facebook and he will deliver a sign for free.