MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The Gratitude Graffiti Project has returned to Maplewood for its fourth year, with expressions of gratitude being written and drawn all over the windows of local businesses. For the first year, through the efforts of local girl scout troops, the Gratitude Graffiti Project is also taking place at two local schools, Clinton Elementary and Jefferson Elementary.

The Gratitude Graffiti Project makes it possible for participants to express their gratitude at any of the 24 stores and restaurants participating in the project in various areas around Maplewood -- Maplewood Village, Valley Street, Ridgewood Road, and Springfield Ave.

Written on the store windows is the question, "What are you grateful for?" and organizer Candice Davenport invites everyone "to stop by any of the participating stores to write or draw one thing you are grateful for." The project lasts for 26 days, ending this Friday, November 26, the day after Thanksgiving. After that, the project will disappear until next year.

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The project began in Maplewood four years ago and was created by Davenport and Lucila McElroy. This year, the project also includes art therapist and Maplewood resident, Jessica Charkow, who is individually decorating all the windows in town with a unique rendering of the question, “What are you grateful for?”

The Gratitude Graffiti Project has spread beyond Maplewood and to other communities, including The Atlantic Health System, which has the program in all four of its hospital locations where visitors, staff and patients can share their thoughts on the buildings' glass windows and on the walls in its main lobbies.  

According to organizers, "the initiative has also reached other towns in New Jersey, as well as other states across the country. The project has even had requests to be replicated in Johannesburg, South Africa and Amman, Jordan." Davenport and McElroy recently received an email from Colorado thanking them for “starting a gratitude revolution."

The Gratitude Graffiti Project is sponsored by the Maplewood Township, Able Baker and Studio 509.