MAPLEWOOD, NJ – Thanksgiving is beginning early in the village, with the kick-off of the Gratitude Graffiti Project on Sunday, with more than 30 local merchants and with the Maplewood Library participating in The Gratitude Graffiti Project, “a 40-day practice of purposeful appreciation of one’s life through interactive art.”

Participating merchants will have markers available for patrons to write on their windows, expressing things for which they are grateful.  The Maplewood Health Department has provided the markers, and each merchants may choose how crowded to let each window become and how often to wipe them down for a clean slate to begin all over again.

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The Maplewood Library will also be a “gratitude stop,” placing “Date Due for Gratitude” cards inside books, and encouraging patrons to write expressions of gratitude before they return the books.

“Through The Gratitude Graffiti Project, participants are no longer ‘spectators’ of art, they are fully engaged in creating the art that expresses their gratitude,” says the project’s website.  “Through art, people can contemplate, create, rejuvenate and awaken a whole new perspective on how to look at how great life can be.”

The project was originated in Maplewood last year by Candice Davenport and Lucila McElroy.  As a life coach, McElroy feels is vital for people to express their gratitude every day.  Davenport is a nurse and public health educator and looks for ways t connect her community and provide positive interactions between people.  Turning local stores, restaurants and offices into “gratitude stops” allows people to read and reflect on the things for which  their neighbors are thankful, and when they are ready, they can grab a marker and add to this public display of gratitude.

“The Gratitude Graffiti Project has grown so quickly,” said Davenport. “Lucilla has spread it to Vancouver already, and even locally, it has spread into South Orange and Millburn.  Our new partnership with 1Love will extend it even more.”  Through personal connections, the project has been launched in Teaneck and Highland Park as well.

The project has just recently partnering with 1LOVE, the global non-profit organization started by Bob Marley’s family.   They will be promoting the Gratitude Graffiti Project to their affiliates across the U.S. and around the world, spreading one love through gratitude. 

“We are humbled by how the project has taken off and proud that Maplewood has opened their doors and their hearts to the project for a second year,” Davenport said.  “The project speaks to the need to spread positivity and appreciate all that we have, every moment. All these locations are helping to build a healthier community and are part of a larger movement to spread the practice of mindfulness and gratitude all while having fun through art.”

Maplewood participants include: Able Baker, CKO Gym, Gigi's Cupcakes, Hair Chalet, IncPics, KnitKnack, Pro Elite Nutrition, Salon Noir, Cha Mai's Salon, Edo's Quality Cakes, Express Yourself Studios. Fringe Hair Salon, Elite Cutz. Shakti Yoga Studio, Lotus Petals Florist, Maplewood Deli, Village Ice Cream Parlor, Matters Magazine, ML Framing, Roman Gourmet, Village Barbers, Anthony Garubo Salon, Hopscotch, The Laurel, Scrivener's, American Jujitsu (AJJ), Bass Chiropractic, Seafood Palace, Cedar Ridge Café, Milk Money, Stage One, The Framing Mill, and West Village Consignment.

Stores in South Orange include: Sparkhouse Kids, D & I Fitness and JC's Closet.  In Short Hills, Prominent Properties Sotheby's International Realty is also participating.