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Paying it forward, with bagels

Homewood Bagel Co. gives community a way to show love and support to strangers
Homewood Bagel Co. gives community a way to show love and support to strangers
Homewood Bagel Co. gives community a way to show love and support to strangers(Shilo Groover, WBRC)
Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 5:25 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - When you are having a hard day, the kindness of strangers can make a huge impact. That kindness builds a sense of community, and that is what the Homewood Bagel Company is all about.

“We wanted to do something that would allow people to show and share kindness and pay it forward,” says owner Ginny Willcox Leavens.

Homewood Bagel Co. gives community a way to show love and support to strangers
Homewood Bagel Co. gives community a way to show love and support to strangers

When you walk inside the quaint and colorful bagel shop on Central Avenue, there is a board hanging near the register full of little brown tags. Every single one is a message and meal from a stranger. Some are written to community heroes like firefighters and nurses. Others are for students or parents and sometimes they are just for someone who needs a hug. Each tag is a message that you are not alone.

Employees say more customers are leaving tags than taking them.

“We get a lot more people wanting to buy a bagel it forward for someone else than we get people actually redeeming them. It’s kind of nice to see that our community is so giving,” says Baker Whit Callaway.

The board has been hanging since the bagel shop first opened in December of 2019, but it’s become even more impactful during the pandemic.

“We have seen some super inspirational messages for COVID survivors, someone who has lost a loved one, one was touching for someone struggling with their mental health through this crisis,” says Leavens.

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