It’s not exactly certain when the tradition began, but in Europe, love padlocks became a popular expression of love in the early 2000s. Though travelling overseas to lock up one’s love with a friend or partner is more difficult to do as the pandemic continues, participating in the tradition at the Dayton Mall can be just as meaningful.
“The human spirit that I get to see day to day is so incredibly gracious and warm and giving,” said Beth Mann, board president of the local non-profit organization For Love of Children (FLOC).
FLOC is the beneficiary for all the funds raised by the Big Heart campaign through the end of March. Since the onset of COVID-19 last year, FLOC has partnered with numerous other local non-profits and agencies to provide whatever resources are needed to struggling children on a daily basis. One of the initial food drives that FLOC held, in partnership with several other non-profits, fed approximately 160,000 people.
“Even in the darkest of times, it’s inspiring to see how many people just want to shine a light in the world,” Mann said.
FLOC serves over 6,000 children in the Dayton area who are abused, neglected, in the foster care system or in need of community resources — especially since the onset of the pandemic. It was established in 1980 and consists of an entirely volunteer-based team of over 2,000.
Every penny raised through the Big Heart campaign goes to the children FLOC serves through the end of March. Mall officials will name a different non-profit to benefit from the Big Heart campaign each month or two.
“I think the Dayton Mall has just done a beautiful job of sharing the mission of so many different charities in the area,” Mann said. “They’re like the ultimate cheerleader, like the ultimate mission statement, they’re just doing so much to promote Dayton. So we’re very grateful to be a part of that.”