Penticton city council deals with a great many requests throughout the year, but a plea to simply be kind is a first.
The request came from Aaron McRann, executive director for the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan, who wanted the councillors and the city to both endorse and participate in Random Acts of Kindness day on Nov. 7.
McRann explained the CFSO is sponsoring the event in Penticton and the other communities in the South Okanagan Similkameen, and doing it in participation with about a dozen other community foundations across Canada.
“The point of the day is to create some feel-good buzz in our community, to provide an opportunity and to encourage citizens to do nice things for each other,” he said.
McRann said several businesses, including the Penticton Western News, have already stepped forward to participate and help out with donations to support the cost of the event.
“We are really excited to be involved in this,” said Don Kendall, publisher of the Western News. “It is a great way to build community spirit.”
The process is simple. The CFSO is having 3,000 random acts of kindness cards printed, which they will be distributing in the days leading up to Nov. 7.
“You will be handed one of these cards and you can only get rid of it when you do something nice for someone and then you pass them the card and tell them to pay it forward,” said McRann.
That could be as easy as buying a cup of coffee for someone. But McRann is encouraging people to be as creative as they can. In terms of the City of Penticton, he suggested that bylaw officers could occasionally give out a random act of kindness card instead of a parking ticket.
“There is some support for that, I guess,” said McRann, after the audience broke out into applause. Another of McRann’s ideas was for bus drivers to give out free bus passes to random riders, letting them have a free ride for the day.
“We are not asking for a lot, it is just simple, easy, inexpensive ways to pay it forward in our community,” he said.
The participating community foundations will also be keeping track of how many acts of kindness are generated and comparing notes, according to McRann.
“We want to see how far those cards go into our communities. Our goal is to try and track as much of it as possible,” he said. “Medicine Hat tallied 11,000 random acts of kindness last year. I have no idea what we can accomplish in Penticton, but it has got to be a lot considering the quality of our community.”