Words of Inspiration hope to warm the hearts of suffering Chinatown and Little Italy

Wellington Z. Chen Executive Director Chinatown BID/Partnership stands in front of the Chinatown Information Kiosk on Canal Street and Baxter Street.
Photo by Dean Moses

The Chinatown Business Improvement District has launched a words of kindness campaign in hopes of warming the hearts of struggling businesses and residents in Lower Manhattan amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The recent nor’easter that battered the East Coast with heavy snowfall is the latest in the long line of setbacks that have prevented Chinatown and Little Italy from regaining their footing since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The historically rich Lower Manhattan community has harbored famous historical individuals, landmarks, sprawling markets, and some of the city’s finest cuisine tourists and fellow New Yorkers have traveled to enjoy for decades.

However, since the arrival of COVID-19, the beloved community has suffered greatly.

Those traveling to enjoy the tastes and sights of the area have been reduced to an almost nonexistent number, leaving many restaurants no choice but to close their doors for good. The once lively region is currently a hub of dreary steal shutters that showcase the hardships of the world as it is.

If the lack of patronage was not enough, the neighborhood has also seen a rash of xenophobic hate related incidents brought on by the pandemic.

Chinatown has suffered financially because of a series of unprecedented setbacks ever since 9/11.

With so many individuals out of work and suffering from food insecurity, the Chinatown Bid and Little Italy Merchants Association are taking a stand to remind Lower Manhattan residents they are cared for through a competition that seeks New Yorkers’ help.

A trash can says “Show some love” beside a host of shuttered businesses. Photo by Dean Moses

Named Warm Hearts NYC, the neighborhood is asking for readers to submit a sentence of up to 25 words of encouragement that they believe would lighten the lives of business owners during this dark period in their lives.

The selected messages will then be placed on the shuttered businesses, on digital displays and on street banners inspiring the neighborhoods to keep faith and remain optimistic for the future.

“It’s horrendous, every store is closed. There is no foot traffic, the whole street—not a single soul and I am walking from Bowery to the Manhattan Bridge. How could you survive? So, this is calling on our common humanity, putting a message out will save a life,” said Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown BID.

In addition, a Chinese saying, “Have you eaten yet?” intended to show concern for an individual’s well-being will be displayed on banners from lampposts and showcased on monitors fixed to the Chinatown Information Kiosk on Canal Street and Baxter Street to promote love and support.

You can submit your own words of inspiration by visiting amny.com/warmheartsnyc. The contest is open to all ages and the deadline to submit is March 4.

Those who participate are entered into sweepstakes with a chance to win a $100 dollar gift card. Winning messages will be announced on March 25.

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