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Free Hugs: New Orleans Man Is A Love Machine

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – In times when tragedy strikes like the Boston bombings, it’s important to remember there are still good people in the world.

29-year old, Jake Potter is one of those people.  His mission is to spread love through his “Free Hugs” campaign.

“It’s about spreading positivity one hug at a time,” Potter said.

Since the beginning of the year, he’s given out about two thousand free hugs—at Mardi Gras, Wednesdays at the Square, and most recently, French Quarter Fest.   He’s even got his friends to embrace his hugging campaign.

He never imposes hugging on anyone.  He stands in one place, holding a sign which reads, “Free Hugs”.  He then waits for people to come up and hug him.

Potter is disabled.  He has spina bifida.

“I’ve been hugged by so many people.  One time someone ran across the square and lifted me up and almost dropped me.   Then they realized I was disabled.  It was awkward, but funny,”  he said.

You’d think with all the hugging that Jake might get some dates out of it.

“I actually have,”  he said.

Getting dates is definitely not his motive.  He hugs a lot because he truly wants to see a change in the world.

“A very dear friend of mine told me that the world would be a better place if everyone was more positive.   It’s like a snowball effect,”  Potter said.

Making others feel good through hugging is why he does it.

“In that moment when you are giving someone a hug, you are telling them that they matter,” he said.

Look for Jake and his friends to be giving out more free hugs at this year’s Jazz Fest.

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