A little boy sees the allure of a “free hugs” sign in the corner of his eye. He willingly approaches and embraces Bailey Hohm. Her arms encompass the boy and a bond is formed.
“His mom walked up to us and started crying and said that her son is autistic,” said Hohm, sophomore philosophy and psychology major. “He had never smiled at anyone or touched anyone before.”
Not every hug has this effect, but Hohm hopes each one will.
“(Free hugs) made me a lot more confident and it’s helped me make more friends too,” Hohm said.
She hasn’t just transformed the lives of others, her life has changed too.
“She actually was a very shy and reserved person who didn’t talk very much,” said Chris Dulaney, a junior horticulture major. “I just find that astounding because she has this bubbly personality.”
According to Dulaney, hugs can transform lives. As another person who became friends with Hohm after getting a hug, he said she takes her mission seriously.
“I think she just genuinely cares about everyone and that’s a really rare person to find,” said Shannon Oliver, a sophomore psychology major who became friends with Hohm after receiving a hug.
Hohm can be found standing in front of the Behavioral Science building on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. giving out free hugs.
“I definitely couldn’t do it everyday, but she continually does it everyday and sticks with it,” Oliver said.
Her mission doesn’t end at 11 a.m., it continues regardless of where she ends up because she always carries her sign. The sign has seen better days and Hohm constantly carries duct tape to repair it.
“When I’m not on campus, I bring my free hugs sign with me, so if the opportunity arises I go for it,” Hohm said.
Hohm’s dedication to free hugs started in high school and has become an integral part of her life.
“(Giving free hugs) furthers my desire to make the world a better place, doing the little things I can and appreciating the little things in life,” Hohm said.
Once, in front of Starbucks a women said Hohm was wasting her time as she entered the coffee shop. As she waited in line, she witnessed Hohm giving free hugs and saw the change in people’s demeanor.
As the women left, she proceeded to hug Hohm and three other people on her way down the street. Hohm loves giving hugs and feels it’s a necessary.
“It’s something she likes to do, but she also has the mentality that I need to do this,” Dulaney said.
According to Oliver, people have bad days and it is hard to tell when that is happening.
“I think people don’t realize how much they need a hug one day and that could mean the world to someone,” Oliver said.
Her goal is to transfer positive energy, according to Dulaney.
“I just want to make people smile and spread the love a little bit and do what I can to make the world a better place,” Hohm said.
Through her mission, she has established new relationships.
“Bailey loves to be friends with everyone,” Dulaney said. “She’s fascinated by all of it, she wants to know who you are and love you for who you are.”
The free hugs girl is on a mission — a mission to inspire CSU, to brighten days and to lift spirits, according to Hohm.
Dulaney believes Hohm is just the beginning.
“If people on campus accepted the free hugs more and if more people joined in than just Bailey…we would create more of a unified campus,” Dulaney said.
Collegian Senior Reporter Lawrence Lam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.