YORKTOWN, N.Y. - Jefferson Valley Mall is celebrating the holiday season by creating a contest designed to spread kindness and cheer.

Mall management has set up a Gift Kindness Contest in the food court in hopes of inspiring the community to participate in random acts of kindness.

The staff kicked off the holiday season on Friday, Nov. 29, by revealing a wall covered in gift tags. 

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Each tag is labeled with an act of kindness. To participate, individuals are encouraged to take a tag off the wall, take a photo of themselves doing an act of kindness, and post the photo to Instagram, along with tagging and following the mall, @jeffersonvalley, tagging a charity of their choice and using the hashtag #GiftKindnessContest to enter for a chance to win $1,000 for that charity.

“This holiday season, we are encouraging guests to give the gift of kindness to friends, family, partners, team members, acquaintances or strangers. Kindness is a gift everyone can afford to give and we hope this campaign will spark the spirit of giving in our community, one act of kindness at a time,” General Manager Alexa O’Rourke said.

The mall has teamed up with local nonprofits which want to help bring some cheer to those less fortunate this holiday season.

Yorktown Teen Center, Toys for Tots, the Mahopac National Honor Society, Alliance for Safe Kids, the Community Food Pantry at St. Mary’s, NY Blood Center, Guiding Eyes for the Blind and the Food Pantry at Jefferson Valley Mall have partnered with mall management in their social media-based kindness contest.

Members of the those groups and Community Cares were in attendance to help the mall reveal the gift kindness wall.

The individuals from the charities agreed that kindness is something we need to see more and they’re happy to help.

Members of the Mahopac National Honor Society said that the mall’s mission of spreading kindness aligns with their core beliefs. They were representing Community Cares, a charity that helps families in medical crises.

“The Mahopac National Honor Society loves to help out local charities and today we’re helping out Community Cares, which helps local families with terminally ill children do cooking, cleaning and day-to-day things that they might not be able to focus on,” said Chase Santoriella, a student at Mahopac High School. “In the National Honor Society, one of our core pillars is definitely community and personally [something] I hold in very high regard because I think it’s just so important for us as a community to give back and we like to get involved and help out as much as we can.”

A member of the Yorktown Teen Center, which offers a safe, enriching and fun space for Yorktown’s teens, said that being kind to one another starts with each individual and needs to be continued by paying it forward.

“What we try to do is show teenagers that it’s good to be kind,” said Adriana Beaudreault, president the Yorktown Teen Center Board of Directors.

Brian Beaudreault, a member and staff member at the center, said that when someone shows kindness, they may get kindness back.

“When there’s kindness in the world, it’s definitely a good thing for people and the Teen Center definitely helps with kids in their improvement of kindness,” Brian Beaudreault said.

Maria Anna Duffy, a volunteer with Toys for Tots, said that she’s helping the Marines collect toys for children.

“We like to make donations for children who don’t have any toys for the holidays and we take unwrapped toys and donations,” Duffy said.

To kick off the contest, a member from each charity selected a tag and act of kindness to perform.

“This season, in general, it’s all about giving back: how we can help one another, how we can help our communities, and we’re so incredibly passionate about what it is we’re creating here. This is just one way for all of us to work together, all of us to donate, give an extra tip, help somebody to their car. It doesn’t take much out of our days to spread love and light and that is what we are hoping to do here today and the next couple of weeks,” O’Rourke said.

The contest runs until Dec. 27. To participate, visit the Jefferson Valley Mall and pick your own act of kindness; the wall is located in the food court. 

For additional information on the Gift Kindness campaign, visit giftkindnesscontest.com/rules. 

To find a drop-off location for Toys for Tots, visit https://www.t4twestchester.org/donate/dropoff.asp.