A man approached the counter at his favourite Penticton restaurant to pay for his lunch, a routine he had performed for years.
But when he did so, he was shocked to find that someone —a 13-year-old — had already paid for it. The man tearfully explained that in the past 10 years, no one had ever done something so kind for him.
That 13-year-old was one of many Grade 7 students who took to the streets last year to show kindness to others.
For many middle school students, their favourite school day of the year might be the final one before summer break. But for many, their most memorable day is one spent spreading positivity in the community.
On Feb. 11, just before Valentine’s Day, students from KVR Middle School will once again roam around Penticton performing random acts of kindness for strangers. What’s more, they don’t expect anything in return. And those on the receiving end may never know it was them.
The initiative, called Real Acts of Caring, was brought to Summerland by French immersion teacher Melissa Burdock last year, and it’s now in Penticton. From reducing bullying in the school to helping the kids focus on others, the initiative, Burdock explained, has a significant impact.
Kindness, say the students, can be shown in a variety of ways — from complimenting someone to buying their lunch.
“Even just holding the door open for someone, it makes them feel good for the rest of the day and it also makes you feel good for the rest of your day,” said student Luke McCoy.
“The simplest things can make someone’s day,” added student Marie Carriere.
“So even something like, school-wise, it could be letting someone borrow your pencil or helping someone out with their homework.
“It could help them out, and you don’t expect anything in return.
“They could really be happy and they could start to spread (happiness).
On Feb. 11, all 24 French immersion students will take to the streets.
A recent bake sale raised $452 funds, which means that each group in the class will have $90 to spend on other people that day.
Each group’s initiatives are student driven. Some acts of kindness will not require money, but some will. Some groups are planning to drop off flowers at the seniors centre, purchase items for others in drive-thru lanes and show their appreciation to first responders.
Their hope is that by setting an example, they can inspire others to be kind to people throughout their daily lives, even after Valentine’s Day has passed.
“In future years, hopefully other classes, other schools (will take it on),” said McCoy.
The students planned to present Penticton city council with a proclamation on Tuesday to declare Feb. 9 to 15 as Real Acts of Caring Week. A group of students will also travel to Victoria to ask provincial leaders to do the same.
On Feb. 11, the students will be fly to Victoria, where Education Minister Rob Flemming will present them with a proclamation.
Citing preliminary discussions, Burdock anticipates provincial leaders will declare Feb. 9 to 15 as RAC week throughout B.C.
Students from Summerland, Burdock’s class from last year, will be part of the group traveling to Victoria.
“The hope is if it’s purposeful during that week it will become part of your everyday life afterwards,” said Burdock.
The teacher said it feels great to once again see the initiative come to fruition. Every year, she is surprised at the great ideas students come up with to show kindness in the community.
“Last year we had people in tears in the community,” said Burdock.
“We talk about how you never know how you might make someone’s day.”
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