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13 ways to celebrate 143 Day in Pittsburgh

Mr. Rogers once said: “There are three ways to ultimate success. The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”

As a way to honor Fred Rogers’ legacy of kindness, Gov. Tom Wolf has proclaimed May 23 as “1-4-3 Day” and is asking Pennsylvanians to show gratitude to one another, today through Sunday.

Why May 23? It’s the 143rd day of the year, and Mr. Rogers often used “143” as a way to say “I love you,” because there’s one letter in “I,” four in “love,” and three in “you.”

After so much struggle and heartache over the last year, there couldn’t be a more necessary time to spread love, do good deeds, and help your neighbors. We all have the power to make a positive difference in our communities, just one kind act at a time.

If yinz are looking for a little inspiration, we came up with a list of 13 ways you can celebrate #143DayInPA in the place that Mr. Rogers called home.

Pittsburgh greeting card set (📸: @lovepittsburghshop)

1) Write a thoughtful note to someone you haven’t seen in awhile.

With the increase in vaccinations, we’re finally able to see some of our family and friends again, but a lot of us are still missing special people in our lives. Put your heart on paper, and send a note to someone you haven’t seen in awhile. Nothing quite lives up to the excitement of getting snail mail from a friend.

May we suggest using Pittsburgh-themed cards like these ones from Love, Pittsburgh?

2) Donate to or volunteer with your favorite local charity.

There are tons of Pittsburgh nonprofits doing amazing work to support the community, especially these days with so many of our neighbors in need.

Need some ideas? Check out 412 Food Rescue, which with thousands of volunteers, is able to recover and redistribute healthy food to those who need it, all while keeping it from entering the waste stream. You can also help welcome Pittsburgh’s newest neighbors seeking refuge through Hello Neighbor, transform vulnerable Pittsburgh neighborhoods from the ground up with Neighborhood Allies, or give a kid in need a happy birthday celebration with Beverly’s Birthdays. Oh, and don’t forget organizations helping with COVID-19 relief like the Pittsburgh Restaurant Workers Aid.

3) ‘Redd up’ your neighborhood.

It’s as simple as grabbing a trash bag, putting on some gloves, and hitting the streets. Get some inspiration from the Pittsburgh Street Stewards, a volunteer organization of residents who ‘redd up’ designated streets in our city’s 90 neighborhoods. You can learn about the adopted areas and where stewards are needed by visiting the group’s Instagram and Facebook pages.

Janoski’s Farm & Greenhouse (📸: @francesca_dabecco)

4) Buy someone flowers (or plants).

Gifting a piece of nature’s beauty will instantly improve someone’s day. Here’s a list from NEXTPittsburgh of local women-owned flower shops, plus you get plants at a variety of spots around town, like local farms and greenhouses, Soil Sisters or City Grows.

5) Pay for someone’s order behind you.

One good deed can inspire a ripple effect, and even the smallest of gestures can transform someone’s whole day. Whether you’re ordering a coffee, checking out at Giant Eagle, or pumping gas at Sheetz, you can pay it forward by swiping your card for the person behind you.

6) Thank a frontline worker.

While there appears to be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, we can’t forget about all of our frontline workers. From nurses and doctors to grocery store clerks and USPS workers, many of our neighbors put their lives on the line to serve the community. Maybe even give an extra thank you to your local “State Store” employees — I know yinz relied on them extra this year.

7) Be nice on the road.

Every driver in Pittsburgh knows the feeling of chaos while merging on a bridge or navigating awkward city streets. Keep your cool and let one of your fellow commuters ahead of you. It costs nothing but a little bit of patience. Extra points if you let someone in on the Fort Pitt Bridge, heading toward the tunnels!

Food for the Soul Manchester Community Farm (📸: @francesca_dabecco)

8) Get involved with your community garden.

If you don’t have a patch of soil all of your own, there’s no better way to get to know your neighbors than to garden with them. Plus, access to fresh produce is a way to fight food insecurity and prevent poor health. Check out Grow Pittsburgh’s map of urban gardens to find one near you.

Editor’s note: If you don’t have a neighborhood garden, it’s not too late to organize. Grow Pittsburgh is helping my neighborhood build our community farm in Manchester, pictured above after we laid soil. I can’t wait to see it flourish all summer long.

9) Give up your seat on the bus.

Our buses, Ts, and inclines aren’t as packed as they used to be, but it’s always courteous to give up your seat to ederly people, people with disabilities, people who are pregnant, or just about anyone who looks like they could use a rest.

Lake Elizabeth in Allegheny Commons Park (📸: @francesca_dabecco)

10) Appreciate our parks.

If you read our Arbor Day Q-and-A with Ben Adams, you know that a lot goes into maintaining our city’s trunks and canopies. You can help keep our urban forests healthy by becoming a Tree Tender with Tree Pittsburgh. They offer a course that covers urban forestry practices, tree biology and health, basic tree identification, proper pruning and maintenance, and instruction on how to lead your community in organizing tree plantings and tree care. Or, at the very least, send some love to the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

11) Take care of our rivers.

It’s hard to imagine what Pittsburgh would be without our three rivers. In fact, Pittsburgh would most definitely not be here without them. It’s important to conserve the health of our rivers in order to maintain the wellbeing of our entire region. Check out UpstreamPgh, a Wilkinsburg-based org that works to mitigate stormwater runoff from surrounding communities and preserve the ecology of the area. Or get your hands dirty and help remove debris from our rivers with Allegheny CleanWays.

12) Give a stranger a compliment.

It’s totally free! You never know; what you say could make someone’s day. Still social distancing? No problem. Here are some very Pittsburgh messages of kindness we made (leftover from Valentines Day) that you can send to your pals in Pittsburgh.

Kindness Zone sign Downtown. (📸: @danielgilman)

13) Create your own “Kindness Zone.”

You may have seen these signs around town, but now you can create your own “Kindness Zone” with help from the Senator John Heinz History Center. They released these signs in partnership with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania specially for 143 Day. Visit the museum shop to purchase the sign, as well as magnets and stickers.

The state’s website has a “Kindness Generator” to provide inspiration for the day, as well as a “Kindness Tracker” that tallies kind gestures submitted by Pennsylvania residents. They’re also urging people to spread kindness on social media with the hashtag #143DayInPA.

How will you celebrate 143 Day? Forward this story to a friend, and keep the kindness momentum moving.