Thursday, October 3, 2013

Operation Tucci

A few months back, I did a blog post about the murder of David Santucci. I know many of you clicked on it, read it, shared it, and were moved by the story. Personally, I thank each and every one of you for your support. A lot of emotions go into the grieving process. When you lose a friend to a violent act, anger and sadness are among those emotions; however, these emotions were soon met with tension. You see, there was something stirring among my friends and me to do something that would honor Tucci's memory. Two of my friends, Drew Fryman and Justin Hurley (who may well kill me for mentioning their names) came up with a great idea. They floated that idea to our group of friends, and it was very well received. And so, "Operation Tucci" was born. Maybe you've heard about it. Maybe you've read about it. Maybe you watched it on the news. Perhaps you've been a recipient of it. If none of those statements are true, please let me be the first to tell you about it. Operation Tucci refers to the performance of random acts of kindness. The first act was performed by Justin and Drew at the Chili's where Tucci had been a waiter. They ordered a little bit of food, hung out, and then asked for their bill. They wrote in the amount, added a $100.00 tip, signed the receipt, and left a note. This note read:

David Santucci was a nurse who devoted his life to helping others. He was genuine, smart, funny, and a dear friend of ours. This act of kindness was done in his memory.

Operation Tucci is not intended to be a series of large tips left on bills. While that is one option, other gestures and acts have been executed. For example, some friends handed out water bottles on the green line with notes taped to them. Some people have bought lunch for the person next to them in line. Our group of friends has done some larger-scale acts with our pooled resources. These acts include buying sno cones for people at Jerry's or buying a tank of gas for 10 people on a Friday afternoon. Slowly but surely, this operation gained traction. When a fellow Houston High School alum tipped off the local media about Operation Tucci, Justin and Drew began getting requests for interviews on local news stations. You may have seen them on Channel 3, 5, and 13. Then, the Commercial Appeal covered the story. Additionally, two of my very favorite radio personalities, Gary Parrish and John Martin, mentioned Operation Tucci on their respective radio shows. Not a single one of these networks or individuals had to cover this story, but we are certainly glad they did. This exposure makes a real difference. We watched as the Facebook Page gained momentum - 500 likes, 1,000 likes, 2,000 likes, and it sits today with 4,585 likes. People have submitted acts of kindness from Memphis, other states, and even other countries. 

What is the logic behind Operation Tucci? Tucci's death is a tragedy. He was taken from us on one of the most popular streets in downtown Memphis. He was taken from us by a gunshot. What larger contrast could there be to this act of evil than to extend kindness to others? That's the type of guy Tucci was - a selfless one. He would not want us harboring anger or resentment. He would not want us avoiding the streets of Memphis and living in fear. Tucci loved Memphis, and he loved people. Operation Tucci endeavors to show that, while Tucci may be gone in body, his kind spirit transcends tragedy. His kind spirit can't be taken by a gunshot. That powerful truth is what propels Operation Tucci onward.

Hey, what would this blog post be without a little bit of fashion? Recently, Champion Awards, a t-shirt company, reached out to Justin and Drew and offered to print 50 t-shirts for Operation Tucci at no cost. The shirts were designed with the tagline "Be Kind, Memphis" in white text on top of the intentionally chosen Memphis blue. We debuted these shirts at one of the Operation Tucci events at Jerry's Sno Cones. We wore the shirts to highlight the movement. Quickly, people began asking where they could buy a shirt. At the time, there were no plans in place for people to buy them. Frankly, we had just been the recipients of a kind shirt company, but my friends figured out a way to the meet the requests of those interested in getting their hands on a shirt. These shirts are being sold here. Part of the proceeds ($7.00) go directly to Operation Tucci to fund future acts of kindness. 

I'm humbled to have such driven, innovative, and caring friends. I'm heartened that so many in the Memphis community have embraced the movement. I'm thankful that the media sought to share a story that wasn't the typical espousal of negativity. Mostly, I'm comforted to have constant reminders of my friend David Santucci as these acts of kindness reflect the type of person David was - kind

Feel free to join the movement and share it with others. 

Be Kind, Memphis.

Very Truly Yours,

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