Helping Works

Boise man spreading gratitude to troops in a creative way

awebb@idahostatesman.comOctober 1, 2013 

Scott Truitt, a designer and brand strategist, has always traveled a lot for business. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, he began noticing more and more military personnel in airports and other public spaces.

Truitt, who moved to Boise from Seattle four years ago, grew up around the military. He’s comfortable with the culture and got in the habit of walking up to men and women in uniform and shaking their hands.

“It wasn’t about approval or disapproval of the war. It was a gesture of support,” he said.

He soon realized that others weren’t as comfortable as he was in expressing their appreciation to strangers in uniform — even if they wanted to. Exchanges can also be awkward for military men and women.

So Truitt used his creative know-how to come up with a way for civilians to quietly convey their thanks.

A professor friend told him about a gesture of thanks that originated in 18th century France. A person places their hand on their heart, then extends their hand outward with an open palm.

Truitt thought the gesture conveyed the right spirit and message. He founded the Gratitude Campaign. The centerpiece of the campaign is a 90-second video that illustrates the gesture and its meaning. (Scroll down to watch the video)

He set out on a mission — one he’s been on for the last six years — to make the gratitude gesture as familiar as the peace sign.

“We’re trying to create a social norm,” said Truitt.

“Our goal is to get to the point where people don’t even know there was a campaign.”

He started big. In 2007, he got the Seattle Seahawks to show his video at every home game that season. Since then, more than 20 TV networks have aired the video as a public service announcement. Churches, schools and other organizations have shown it.

The Gratitude Campaign has amassed more than 21,000 “likes” on Facebook. Close to 2 million viewers have watched the video on YouTube.

Truitt says it’s hard to track how far the gesture has spread. He has yet to see anyone use it in public.

“I keep waiting to be somewhere where I see that happen,” said Truitt.

But he hears stories. One of his friends was on a business trip in Texas. He saw a soldier across the terminal and used the gratitude sign. The soldier dropped his bag and walked over. The soldier had heard about the Gratitude Campaign and knew what the gesture meant.

“It makes me feel fantastic as I watch our numbers grow on the website and on YouTube,” said Truitt.

True to his mission, the video is available for free for anyone to download and show for non-commercial purposes.

The Gratitude Campaign will have a second chapter. Truitt is developing a cause marketing campaign. He’s working with retailers to develop products the public can buy. A portion of sales will benefit veterans in four areas: post-traumatic stress treatment, support for military families, support for wounded warriors and services to help veterans leaving the military find jobs.

LOVE MID-CENTURY STYLE? DON’T MISS THE HIGHLANDS ARCHITECTURAL TOUR

Preservation Idaho, a tireless advocate for the state’s building history, hosts its annual Heritage Homes Tour, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 6.

This year’s tour focuses on Boise’s Highlands neighborhood, an area that promises more than a few opportunities for “Mad Men” time travel through its distinct building styles.

The price for the self-guided walking tour is $20 for PI members, $25 for non-members. Get tickets online at www.preservationidaho.org or on the day of the tour in person at Highlands Elementary, 3434 N. Bogus Basin Road.

A shuttle bus between homes will also be available, but you must buy the $5 pass before Sunday. Get details online or write info@preservationidaho.org.

HELP THE HOTLINE

Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours return to Boise’s Egyptian Theatre, 700 W. Main, at 8 p.m. on Oct. 4. The show celebrates the first year of service at the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline and will raise money to help the line stay open 24/7. Tickets are $25, available online at EgyptianTheatre.net.

ISPH currently operates 12 hours a day, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. Outside those hours, crisis centers outside Idaho answer all calls to 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Counselors in other states are not as familiar with Idaho’s state and local services.

“Late-night hours and weekends can be critical times for people in crisis,” said John Reusser, Hotline director. “It’s always better having Idahoans helping Idahoans. Expanding hotline hours to 24/7 as soon as possible is the surest way to do this.”

So come to the concert, or make a donation, or copy the hotline number and pass it on to someone who needs it.

Also note, if you’re passing by the Egyptian today, you can stop in and buy an extra concert ticket for a veteran. The hotline staffers and concert organizers will make sure it gets to the right place.

SHRINERS OFFER FREE SCREENINGS FOR KIDS

El Korah Shriners and Idaho State University-Meridian host a free screening clinic for children with orthopedic conditions, burns and spinal cord injuries

The clinic is Saturday, Oct. 5, from 9 a.m to 1 p.m. at the Idaho State University-Meridian Health Science Center, 1311 E. Central Dr., Meridian.

Volunteer physicians will screen children and teens under age 18 for a variety of conditions. The clinic will evaluate children for possible treatment at Shriners Hospitals for Children.

For more information about the screening clinic, call 343-0571.

TAKE TO THE STREETS: LIGHT THE NIGHT WALK

The walk supports The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It takes place at 5 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 3, at Ann Morrison Park.

Proceeds go to cancer research and community services. The Night Walk is Boise’s largest blood cancer fundraising event, bringing together more than 1,200 participants to celebrate and enjoy a fun, family friendly evening with music, refreshments, and entertainment.

To find out more about forming a team or participating in the Light The Night Walk, contact Chelsea at 658-6662 or www.lightthenight.org.

BOISE’S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION CONTINUES

Saturday, Oct. 5, is the night of the swank Bieter Ball. Some of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Musicians’ Fund of Boise. Ticket prices range from $65 to $120.

If that’s a bit out of your price range, consider the 150Fest, from noon to 4 p.m. on the same Saturday in the Grove Plaza at Boise Centre.

Musicians featured in “In Our Town: Songs for Boise 150,” a CD compilation produced by the City’s Department of Arts & History, will perform.

The event is free, though the CD, food and drinks will be available to buy. The Capital City Development Corporation is offering free parking at all six of its garages between 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

CITY OF TREES MARATHON NEEDS YOU

The annual race is Oct. 13. Organizers are looking for volunteers to direct traffic at intersections and help with takedown after the race. The organization will make donations to Operation Warm Heart based on the number of volunteers who step up to help.

A few volunteer spots may be available on the days leading up to the race.

If you are interested in volunteering, send an email to cotvolunteer@gmail.com.

If you’ve volunteered in the past and would like the same intersection or water station, or if you’d like to volunteer near a particular friend, let organizers know. They’ll try to accommodate you.

HAVE A GOOD RECIPE? SHARE IT TO BENEFIT GARDEN CITY LIBRARY

The Garden City Library Foundation is writing “A Literary Feast,” a cookbook featuring the favorite recipes of the library’s cardholders, board, donors and staffers, as well as the mayor, members of the city council and city employees.

Editors are inviting library fans to submit up to four recipes for possible inclusion. The hardback cookbook will be available to buy at the library for $10 (plus tax) in early December. Net proceeds will benefit the library.

Recipe donors’ names will be displayed with the recipes. Donors should include a note about why their recipe is special, as well as a note about favorite books.

The deadline to submit is Oct. 7. Submit online here or stop in at the library and pick up a paper form at 6015 N. Glenwood St., Garden City, or call 472-2940.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

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