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Saratoga County organizes a charitable leap day

Members of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce
Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce
Members of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce

A Saratoga County tradition that aims to support local organizations is gearing up for its third iteration Thursday.
Leap of Kindness Day was created by the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce in 2016 as a way for the residents of the county to lend the extra day, February 29th, to those who support their communities.

In 2020, the day went global as more than 200 chambers across the U.S., Canada, and Ireland joined the effort to support local nonprofits, charities, and individuals.

Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus says the day of kindness is going to be bigger than ever.

“And here we are in 2024, and we are closing in on 250 communities across the world who have committed to hosting Leap of Kindness Day events,” Shimkus.

Shimkus says after a month of rallying donations and spreading awareness of the local charities looking for assistance, watching people across the world participate is always a great payoff.

“And what you see are, you know, they’re reaching out to others in their community. To people in need. To people who don’t get thanked very often. To people that are doing extraordinary things that never get recognized. They’re cleaning up parks, they’re painting buildings, they’re doing all sorts of things that positively impact their local community. And it's just inspiring to see all of these acts of kindness and to know that that whole idea originated here in Saratoga Springs,” explained Shimkus.

More than 50 Saratoga County-based organizations will be accepting and facilitating donations.

The Saratoga Children’s Literacy League is accepting donated books to be refurbished by their volunteers and given to children across the county. Erin Smith is a co-founder of the league, and says being able to participate in the Leap of Kindness Day has been great for the fledgling non-profit.

“We’ve got so much exposure just from being listed on the Chamber’s site for Leap of Kindness Day. So, that’s been great. Saratoga Eagle approached us to do a workshop on Leap of Kindness Day, so we’re organizing that. And then, also, Carrie Woerner’s office is doing their own activity for Leap of Kindness Day, and then they’re giving us the proceeds from that. So, it’s been amazing, just the exposure alone,” said Smith.

In 2023 Bikeatoga was able to give out more than 700 bicycles to provide locals with a sustainable mode of transportation for free. President Benjamin Norford says donations keep the gears spinning, since it costs Bikeatoga roughly $11 per bike for repairs.

“So, any kind of donated bicycles or monetary donations would go straight back into the community for people who need bicycles primarily as transportation. We have a lot of clientele who are dealing with homelessness, or recent struggles with incarceration, or maybe migrant workers, or for whatever reason. We’re not here to judge, we’re just here to give people bicycles. And it helps them get around and have more mobility to get their groceries, go to the pharmacy, go to their jobs, and live their lives,” said Norford.

Shimkus says there are ways to participate in Leap of Kindness Day other than donating time, money, or supplies.

“Take a person that has made a difference in your life and send them a thank you card, or a thank you email, or a thank you text. You can take your favorite business in this community and write a favorable review about them. You know, this doesn’t have to be about money, it can be about spending a little bit of time to thank and show your appreciation for some of the local people here that really make a difference everyday in our lives,” said Shimkus.

Leap of Kindness