Penticton and area is embracing Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Day with open arms.
So much so, the 3,000 special cards to be given out with each good deed on Nov. 7 ran out this week and officials were scrambling to get more.
“We’re having trouble just keeping up with the demand for them,” said executive director Aaron McRann of the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen, the organization spearheading the inaugural event.
“I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, sometimes people can think of these things being kind of cheesy maybe that you have to take it with a grain, or a big dose, of salt,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if that was going to happen or not and I am a little bit surprised because the response has been completely 100 per cent supportive and excited.”
In his eyes what constitutes an act of kindness can be as simple as holding a door open for someone or wishing them a good day and handing them one of the cards asking them to pay it forward to someone else.
By doing this, McRann feels, in today’s hectic, fast-paced world it will provide people with an opportunity to slow down a little and say thanks.
“It’s easy and doesn’t have to cost you anything,” he said.
The special day is taking place through out the South Okanagan Similkameen and people who have performed or received a RAK are urged to share their experience online at www.rakdaysos.com or via social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest or Instagram under the hashtag #RAKDAYSOS.
“It’s not so much this is the only time of year people do random acts of kindness but more it’s kind of a celebration of the kind of stuff that happens all the time,” said McRann. “That’s the way people seem to be taking it and people are just making it a fun day. It’s quite cool to be having conversations with people about how excited they are.”
This is a Canada-wide promotion and the organizer is confident they will be well represented when the final tally is in.
Many businesses, government agencies, individuals and schools have already issued challenges to others to see who can do the most RAKs during the day.
Earlier this week, Penticton Secondary School received a visit from some students from Princess Margaret Secondary.
“This morning a couple of kids from Maggie came in and brought us some Tim Bits,” said Pen High leadership team member Michelle Rogers, a Grade 12 student at the school. “It’s a fun challenge to see who can be the nicest and we accept.
“For me personally, is hopefully to influence the community to turn random acts of kindness into part of what you do everyday.”
Her teammate Helena Fagerlid agreed: “It is rewarding to do something nice for someone. When somebody does nice things for me, it makes me want to do nice things for someone else. It’s like giving back.”
In the morning, a welcoming committee will be at the front doors giving high fives, hot chocolate and doing other little niceties for staff and students.
The City of Penticton is also on board with the concept after receiving a presentation from McRann late last month.
“We have a few things planned for the community but we’re trying to keep kind of a tight lid on it so we keep the element of surprise,” said city communications officer Simone Blais. “It’s just small things to support community organizations and members of the community.
“Hoping to have a few friendly helpers deliver some sweet treats and we’ll keep it at that.”
She added in some cases those in violation of the city parking regulations may find a RAK card instead of a ticket, but motorists shouldn’t count on it.
Overall, McRann is hopeful people will take the sentiment of the day to heart.
“In the last little while we’ve had a barrage of bad news and that’s not our natural state and I think this instinctively re-wires our brain,” he said. “It’s kind of like being in the consciousness of the whole community. It’s a small step, but I think it means a lot.”