Surprise A Hero: Who’s Giving Surprises, And To Whom?

May 22, 2020 - Written by Moriah Scoble

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how crucial our frontline workers—from grocery clerks to delivery drivers to teachers to nurses to janitors—are to society. 

We spoke with a frequent Surprise-giver, Maura, about why she decided to give Surprises and why she chose the people she sent them to. The first Surprise that Maura sent off was to a nurse named Joan in Northern Ireland, someone Maura’s husband worked with occasionally. 

“Joan was working nights with COVID patients, and she has two kids and a husband at home,” Maura said. “Her face was bruised from the mask,” she added.

So Maura visited and sent an uplifting message and a gift to Joan. “It was fun for us, because it’s a surprise, and I love that!” 

“Then we realized my brother worked at a hospital. And my sister-in-law. I understand their stress and everything they are going through, worrying about getting their families sick—and all the work they do to help others,” she said. So Maura sent them Surprises, too. 

“When we sent the first surprise to Joan in Ireland, it was just a nice message with a gift. But by the time we did it for my brother and sister-in-law, we could send a video,” remarked Maura. “We don't live near them, so it was fun. It’s so much more personal.”

Why Surprises Can Feel Better Than Other Kinds of Thank-Yous

Some people choose to send gifts on their own to frontline and essential workers, and that’s a wonderful thing. There are many ways to show our deep gratitude to these heroes, and encourages this generosity of spirit. When asked why she felt using for the gifts, Maura shared, “We would just send a gift ourselves like an Amazon gift card or something, but this is different. This is fun. It’s a surprise, and they get to pick what they want.”

That makes sense. Studies show that providing personal recognition has a strong positive effect on both the recipients and the senders. The personal nature of the messages (even the pre-scripted ones) and optional Surprise gift makes the recipient feel understood and supported. Maura understands that as well. “This is a vehicle to honor people,” she said.

And it’s not just healthcare heroes that she chose to surprise. She has reached out to educators and other essential workers, too. “Teachers aren’t going through life-and-death but are having just as difficult a time and are just as important in all this,” explained Maura. “It’s made me think of teachers and people in a different boat.”

She added, “We just keep thinking of more people who deserve surprises,” she added. “We were thrilled to have this platform to appreciate people.”

With expertise in behavioral economics and psychology, has a unique understanding of the importance of honoring and supporting people. That’s why we have temporarily shifted our main focus from human resources to frontline workers during this pandemic. We’ve waived our annual fee for any community member who wishes to Surprise a hero or comfort someone in need. It’s our way of giving back.


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