DePaul student spreading smiles, one hug at a time - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

DePaul student spreading smiles, one hug at a time

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

It's Valentine's Day and if you don't have someone special out there, maybe you just need a hug.

A local DePaul student is going around the country to give us all something to smile about one hug at a time.

Mr. Rogers once said, "if you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet – there is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person."

David Melia is a professional hugger.

Melia, a sophomore at DePaul University, has hugged more than 50,000 people since becoming a professional hugger but he says it all began with one hug that changed his life forever.

From there, he was given an assignment in his creative writing class: write the first two chapters of a book – any book. Inspired by his new found love of hugs.

He went on to write the entire book: "Free Hugs: It's more than a campaign. It's a lifestyle." And he says that only brought more people over with open arms.

But the hugs didn't stop there – he used the money he earned from the book to kick off a cross country tour to give more people something to smile about.

As for the city that gives the best hugs? Well that's easy.

So while he says that 90 percent of people walk by without hugging him, he will still be available Friday for a little Valentine's Day love for those who need it.

In the end, maybe that's the best Valentine's gift of all.

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