Held annually, the event calls on people to simply take a moment and do something convivial for their fellows.
Living up to the spirit of the day, Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz was with township staff at last Sunday’s Elmira Sugar Kings game, handing out apples in an effort to spread the kindness and spread the word. With her were chief administrative officer David Brenneman, and Rae Ann Bauman of the building department, who is organizing the township’s participation in the day.
“Being kind to people is easy,” said Bauman. “It’s not something that has to be thought or pushed, it should be second nature. This day kind of honours kindness in people, not only randomly, but if people can take time to be kind, you’ll get more out of life being nice to people than you will being mean to them.”
The kind act could be something as classically polite mannered as holding the door open for someone, taking the extra time to show someone appreciation, or donating blood. Bauman notes that while the township is promoting the day, it’s up to people to get involved
While Random Acts of Kindness day has grown into a nation-wide event, the day was actually started right here in Waterloo Region by a volunteer at the KW Community Foundation, Debb Ritchie. Ritchie approached KWCF with her idea ten years ago, and the organization was keen to support it.
“In our first year we had ten volunteers that went out and did kind acts in the community,” said Bethan Llewellyn, the group’s director of foundation services. “And now we’re up to over 25 different organizations that are participating locally and encouraging their staff, and participating widely throughout the region.”
When the movement became too large for Ritchie to handle herself, she passed the reigns over to the foundation to manage.
“In addition to the movement growing here locally, it has spread across the country, and will be celebrated in over 250 communities,” said Llewellyn. The local foundation is part of a network of 191 community foundations in Canada, and many have joined in the Random Acts of Kindness day themselves.
“It’s been picked up from coast to coast to coast,” she noted. “So Random Act of Kindness Day is now celebrated in communities from Fredericton all the way right out to Victoria and the community foundations out there in B.C. It’s really exciting to have seen this grow over the last ten years.”
In the township, as elsewhere, the scope of the event is really supposed to extend beyond the actual day itself, and is more about community and belonging, said Brenneman.
“Random Acts of Kindness might be one day a year, but it’s about having that feeling and having that attitude and having cultural type spirit throughout the entire year,” said Brenneman, who was the chair of the KW Community Foundation for the previous four years.
“Just get out and experience it,” recommends Llewellyn. “I know that people think you should be kind every day, but slowing down and taking a moment and thinking about others, especially on Random Act of Kindness Day can be a very rewarding experience.”
The KW Community Foundation has been involved in the township for a number of years through the Woolwich Community Fund. The fund has been active since 2000, and in the past has provided grants towards projects for the township’s libraries, schools and playgrounds. As of December 2016, the Woolwich Community Fund was valued at $300,000.