If you're in Long Grove, Iowa, look for The Candy Man. Every Saturday morning, Bob Williams, a 93-year-old resident of the tiny Iowa town, makes a trip down the street to the Dollar General store, when the store offers $5 off a $25 purchase. He buys a stack of Hershey's chocolate bars, and it's what he does with them next that has everyone talking.
Williams is known for handing out those Hershey's chocolate bars to kids, adults, strangers, and town resident, starting with two chocolate candy bars for the employees at the store and one bar for whoever is behind him in line. The rest he hands out to a teenager in the parking lot, little kids playing in the yard, guys in a garage, or whoever looks like they need a bit of warmth and kindness.
The Candy Man is well known in his hometown. Williams is a retired teacher and coach, and so far he's bought and given away around 6,000 XL Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bars over the last 11 years.
The simple act of kindness caught the eye of the chocolate company, who filmed a sweet video for their "Heartwarming Project," an initiative dedicated to helping kids and families build meaningful social connections.
Neighbors were happy to talk about what Williams does and the positive effect he has on people around him. One said, "He's teaching all of us to pay it forward." Another said, "He's just so generous, always a kind word."
Williams says he gives away the Hershey's chocolate bars because it puts smiles on people's faces, which makes him feel good. As one of his neighbors said, "It's the little things in life that make a big difference." Williams puts it this way: "I don't have any complaints. I'm way ahead of the game."
Hershey's decided to honor Williams because like the company's founder Milton Hershey, Williams believes that chocolate can bring people together. The Heartwarming Project is partnering with organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, We.org, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education to "help parents, teachers, and kids build more meaningful connections and create a more inclusive & empathetic community."
Giving someone a Hershey bar or another piece of Hershey's candy is guaranteed to get you a smile in return and we could all use a little bit of kindness and connection in the form of chocolate.
The company is promising to give Williams all the Hershey's chocolate bars he'll ever need to keep making a sweet difference in the world.