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Yorkville family cheering up community, a dollar at a time

Mike Morris quietly puts an envelope with $1 inside car senior center parking lot 2008. After Morris' passing his family

Mike Morris quietly puts an envelope with $1 inside on a car in a senior center parking lot in 2008. After Morris' passing, his family is continuing the tradition. | Submitted photo 

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Updated: October 27, 2012 6:11AM

YORKVILLE — Some day, people might ask just how “Free Love, One Dollar” day started.

And they might be amazed to find out it started during online and conversation at a house on Tuma Road in Yorkville, and grew into an international event.

It actually began one day in 2008, when Mike Morris fanned open 10 one-dollar bills he had gotten, and enlisted his younger sister, Andi, in a random act of kindness. He put the bills into 10 different envelopes, wrote “Free Love, One Dollar” and some other message like “You are beautiful” on them. The pair then put the envelopes under the windshield wipers of 10 different cars in a retirement center parking lot.

“It’s so funny that it started as a one-time, spontaneous thing,” said Andi Morris Tuesday. “But that was him — always doing random acts of kindness. He wasn’t a typical person. He just always wanted to do something for someone.”

Although she took pictures, Andi might have forgotten all about that day if tragedy hadn’t struck. Her big brother lost his life on June 5 when the Jeep Cherokee he was working on rolled back on top of him, killing him.

Mike Morris, a Bolingbrook resident, was 32 years old.

A few weeks after his death, in an attempt to remember him, Andi, along with Mike’s fiancée and some friends, repeated his act of that day in 2008. With his birthday coming up Tuesday — the first after his death — friends talking with Andi came up with the idea of doing “Free Love, One Dollar” again.

“It really started as a way for our family to get through this day,” said Cindy Bonafede, Mike’s mother. “Then everything else happened so fast.”

The everything else was the result of a Facebook page Andi put together hastily last week telling the world of the effort to distribute more envelopes with $1 in them on Mike’s birthday.

By Tuesday, almost 8,000 people had looked at the page and left comments. More than 400 from around the world confirmed that they intended to take part in the day, too, wherever they were.

“There’s people in South Africa, and Europe, and across the country doing this,” Bonafede said. “There will be thousands doing this.”

As people took part, some took pictures of their surprise, and secretly photographed the recipients. They posted them on the Facebook page. And even some of the recipients posted on the page.

The page is available at

Andi, a senior fitness and health major at Aurora University, said she thinks her brother would be thrilled.

“He is doing the biggest happy dance right now,” she said with a broad smile Tuesday as she and her friends got ready to visit Goodwill, Countryside Nursing Center and several other places to drop off envelopes.

She called it a fitting tribute to the big brother she always looked up to.

“He went above and beyond anything for any person,” she said. “He would help anybody at any time, if they needed help or if they just needed a smile.

“This is not about the dollars, it’s about the smiles.”

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