In 2008, founder Sara Schairer said she was going through the hardest time of her life. As she was watching an episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” author Wayne Dyer spoke about compassion being the most important thing to teach children. Schairer said the message stuck with her. She said she thought about it for the rest of the day.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and the word compassionate turned into the two words — “Compassion It” — in my head,” Schairer said. “And I was like, ‘Wow, that makes sense, compassion is a verb now. It’s an action.’”
She trademarked “Compassion It,” but it wasn’t until 2011 that Schairer took action. She thought about putting the phrase on bumper stickers or T-shirts, but her friend suggested she needed something small and inexpensive if she wanted to start a global movement.
She settled on a two-sided, reversible bracelet that could be used to spur compassionate action. Each morning, the bracelet starts on the black side. When someone does a compassionate act, they flip it to the white side. The bracelets are sold in pairs, and the first compassionate act is to give a bracelet away.
“That’s what is unique about it,” Schairer said. “I like to say we’re a movement that creates movement.”
The first batch of 1,000 bracelets arrived in May and completely sold out in about 40 minutes, she said.
The first 1,000 bracelets were used to unite the town of Northbrook, Ill. and raise money for families after two suicides and a fatal car accident occurred within three weeks. A small town in Missouri also used “Compassion It” bracelets to grieve after a 13-year-old girl committed suicide.
“These communities wanted to embrace the idea of compassion. Evidently, these kids kill themselves because of bullying,” Schairer said. “So it’s a very powerful, but simple, tool.”
Schairer said any organization can use the bracelets as a fundraising tool, and her goal is for groups around the world to start their own “Compassion It” movements.
“What I’m envisioning is that we have little ‘Compassion It’ movements happening in schools, churches, synagogues, temples all over the world, and that they’re able to raise money for their own causes and create a community around this concept of compassion,” Schairer said. “It’s actually in six continents right now, believe it or not. The only continent we’re missing is Antarctica, so if we can get the penguins to start wearing these, we’ll be in business.”
As the “Compassion It” movement has grown, it has provided outreach programs to teach compassion in local schools and the community and has partnered with similar programs in Nicaragua and Liberia.
Schairer said simple acts are important, and she likes to keep granola bars in her car to hand out to homeless people as she drives around.
Schairer is in the process of registering “Compassion It” as a nonprofit organization, which she hopes will allow the company to fund more outreach efforts and continue to spread compassion around the world.
For more information, visit www.compassionit.com.