Popular non-profit PURP Me pays it forward

PURP Me members and supporters met at Seneca Park to film a video of them yelling "We're ready!"
PURP Me members and supporters met at Seneca Park to film a video of them yelling “We’re ready!” Photo courtesy of Jason Reynolds.

People Uplifting Real People, otherwise known as “PURP Me,” is a non-profit organization that was created in Louisville that has been making its way around the city. When members and supporters of the organization aren’t all over Twitter trending “#PURPMe” and “#ThatsPURP,” they’re at high school football games handing out merchandise.

But the question everyone’s asking is, what is PURP Me?

On Mar. 31, 2013, Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware broke his leg during the Elite Eight game against Duke. At that moment, Jason Reynolds, Kevin’s best friend, said a prayer. He prayed that his friend would be okay. While he prayed for Kevin, he also prayed that he could help all people in need of it.

Weeks later after Ware’s surgery, Jason and Kevin decided to go to the nursing home to visit Jason’s grandmother, and volunteer there. It was after this visit to the nursing home when Jason realized how much fun he had helping others, and PURP Me began its first stages of development, along with the help of other U of L athletes like football starter Jamon Brown and his brother Jamal.

“When we started thinking of names for this movement, I originally thought of ‘red.com,’ because of Louisville. That was already taken, of course. Then I thought of ‘purp’,” said Reynolds.

“Purp” is a shortened word for purple, and because it was such a short word, Reynolds decided that it could be an acronym for People Uplifting Real People.

“If you think about it, purple makes a lot of sense. Democrats and Republicans, Louisville and Kentucky, Crips and Bloods… their colors are blue and red. We want people to come together, that would make purple,” said Jamal Brown.

Ware talked to Reynolds, and they decided to throw the first PURP “party,” where they could come together in one place and have fun giving to others. At this party, Ware met with boys and girls of all ages. No matter what their physical or mental state, he was there to greet all of them. There was live music, free food, and free merchandise. Other PURP parties are held at nursing homes, where the PURP team members have a good time giving joy back to people.

“I wanted to make it fun to give back to people who couldn’t afford it. Everybody needs PURP to be uplifted,” Reynolds said, “Everybody has a purpose in life. Every person that you pass by could do something to change the world. All people have value, no matter what the physical or mental attribute. Kindness is what PURP Me is all about.”

Where does all of the money go when students buy merchandise? PURP Me began to come off as a scam to people. One-hundred percent of the money pays for production of merchandise, and advertising to let more people know about the organization. PURP members give merchandise away often.

“When we give away merchandise, we lose money. We want PURP to become popular so that we can give away the merchandise for free. That’s PURP,” Reynolds said.

According to the official PURP Me website, www.purpme.myshopify.com, random acts of kindness is what PURP is about. Participants can keep track of everything kind that they do, and collect ‘PURP Points.’ These points can earn participants a VIP spot at PURP Me parties and other PURP Me events, as well as prizes and merchandise.

Ballard High School student Brandon Christian first heard about the PURP Me movement through his brother, Mikey Christian, who is the street team leader of the organization.

“Before I found out about PURP Me, I was always getting into trouble, and I hung out with the wrong crowd. PURP changed me. Just what PURP stands for, the message they put out, influenced me, and I started making better decisions,” Christian said.

“In five years, I want to see PURP Me all over the world. I want to see all the kids competing to help each other, and make the ‘Golden Rule’ cool,” Reynolds said.

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