There was a cold wind on Nov. 6, but it couldn’t beat the warmth in the hearts of those in Penticton and beyond on Random Acts of Kindness Day.
Aaron McRann, executive director of the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen said that things may have worked a bit differently than the foundation’s first attempt at Random Acts of Kindness Day last year, but it wasn’t able to dampen the spirit of kindness.
“It was a little bit of a different feel from last year because the weather was cold and kind of bleak,” McRann said.
Despite the chilly weather people paid for parking passes at the hospital, provided gift cards at the Soupateria, left warm clothes on parking meters for those in need, store discounts were offered and some visited the elderly in seniors’ homes.
“The outdoor celebration feel that came with the first one was hard to duplicate because it was so darn cold out,” McRann said. “But this year it was super busy, there was lots going on. Everybody was doing it on a more intimate level.”
The Community Foundation distributed over 7,000 random act of kindness cards, which let people know they have received a random kind act and reminded them to pay it forward. McRann said there is no guarantee they were all used, but he knows many get used more than once.
“It’s hard to tally, but based on what we heard my guess is we were about the same as last year in about 10,000 random acts of kindness,” McRann said.
It was Rylan Hernberg’s favourite day of the year. The sales manager at the Ramada Penticton had plenty of surprises waiting for guests at the hotel and the Kettle Valley Station Pub.
“I’m still smiling,” Hernberg said. “It was a blast and I think we brought a lot of smiles to peoples’ faces.”
Flowers were handed out around the hotel, one lucky guest was treated to a free night in the form of $130 cash left on the bed with flowers and chocolate. Cash and gift cards also hidden in phone books in the suites as well as menus at the KVS Pub.
“Giving someone a flower in the elevator, people are usually shocked and they smile and it brightens up their day,” Hernberg said.
Hernberg, usually the perpetrator of random acts of kindness, found himself receiving a thoughtful gift that day. He usually picks up lottery tickets to give out and the woman behind the counter was waiting for him on Friday to give he and his pregnant wife a gift.
“She said she was waiting for me to come in for many, many months,” Hernberg said. “She told her mom about me and said how kind I was and her mom knit us a blanket, just a beautiful little blanket.”
“I was impacted deeply by that kind gesture,” Hernberg said.
Many schools in the area jumped on board this year in Princeton, Osoyoos and Penticton. The Vemillion Forks Elementary School chipped in doing some cleanup work in Princeton.
“The (schools) involvement was critical because the kids are the ones who are going to have the biggest level of energy for this kind of thing. They get it intuitively and their parents get it from them,” McRann said.
A focus for the Community Foundation this year was getting the message outside of Penticton. A successful venture highlighted by a mention from Premier Christy Clarke on Twitter. Others took to social media sharing kind acts including one Pen High staff member who bought breakfast sandwiches for a person living on the street.
“It was easier to do more work outside of Penticton, which was one of the goals this year,” McRann said.
Many students at Penticton Secondary, while going about their routine stops to their locker, were greeted by encouraging sticky notes on the door. Nearly half of the lockers in the school had neatly handwritten message like ‘Thanks for being an amazing person,’ ‘Share your beauty with the world’ and ‘Stay positive and have confidence.’
McRann said the foundation also heard of random act of kindness cards travelling outside of the area as far as Vancouver.
“It’s really amazing to see everyone doing little things and how exciting it is for people. I get a real charge out of young people doing things, I think that’s amazing when you can see what kids can pull off,” McRann said. “I get a little sentimental on those days. I find it to be quite empowering and uplifting.”
The goal for next year is to get a volunteer crew together to help spread the kindness. A good sign that things are growing beyond the staff at the Community Foundation, McRann said. Visitwww.cfso.net/rakdaysos to see how others were impacted by the day or search #RAKDAYSOS on Twitter.