As a special guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show , Juan Mann—pronounced "one man"—shows how a single person can spread kindness across the world through an act as simple as a hug. The sight of Juan holding a poster offering "Free Hugs" spread worldwide when friend Shimon Moore paired a song by his band, The Sick Puppies, with video of Juan hugging passersby on a busy street. The video received hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube after landing on the video-sharing site.
Juan and Shimon—who also attended the show—accept the Pay It Forward Challenge and put their $2,000 to work starting another campaign…one that turns Juan's hugging philosophy into help for others. The project, Freehelpcampaign.org, is a website that connects people who need help with those able to give it. "We cut out the middle man of larger charitable organizations and get right down to the individual," Juan explains.
To get the word out, Shimon and his band put on a free concert at Los Angeles Mission, a social service organization serving the city's Skid Row neighborhood. Tapping into their music industry contacts and others they know, Juan and Shimon donate new clothing, cell phone minutes and bottled water. People are so willing to help, in fact, that Juan and Shimon have a hard time spending their $2,000!
"It's not about any one individual," Juan says. "It's about every individual, and we can all make a difference because the beautiful thing about life is knowing that you're the one who gets to put it all together."