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This Leander woman is spreading kindness, one text message at a time

Donna Pennell and her "11:11 phenomenon" aim to spread love and compassion every morning.

LEANDER — "Peace."

That was the first word Donna Pennell, 71, texted as part of her kindness campaign.

About a month ago, she started texting words and phrases of love and compassion to friends and family.

Because she wanted to spread love and compassion...every day at 11:11 a.m.

"I call it the '11:11 phenomenon,'" Pennell said.

Now she has recruited dozens of people to help her spread her message.

Every day at 11:11 a.m., cellphone alarms ring in several countries, including Mexico and New Zealand.

"Just set your cellphone alarm to go off at 11:11 a.m. When it rings, just stop what you're doing for five seconds and you send out love, kindness, good wishes," Pennell said.

And what began as messages to only family and friends now includes strangers.

"At first, they're not sure what I'm talking about. But when they understand that it's just about sending out love and kindness to each other, then it's, 'YES, I want to do this! This is so exciting!' And they give me hugs," Pennell said.

Pennell started handing out flyers in early November, hoping to invite as many people as possible to join the campaign.

Her goal is to one day send her text messages of love all around the world.

Pennell said she got this idea from the men's fellowship network at her church, Unity Church of the Hills.

The director of that network, Clay Boykin, said it all started several years ago when there was a long pause in the conversation. When the conversation started again, they all asked, "What happened? Why was there a pause?"

"Someone... said, 'I was holding space for you.' Another gentleman said, 'I was sending you good thoughts, good energy...And then somebody chimed in and said, 'We ought to do that everyday,'" Boykin said. "'Let's do that at 11:11.'"