Arts

U of O club pays it forward with random acts of kindness

 Photo by Tina Wallace

Between midterms, papers, roommate issues, and relationship drama, it can be easy to feel like you need a hug. Students who feel overwhelmed will be glad to know there is now a club dedicated solely to making others happy.

The Random Acts of Kindness club is a group consisting of about 40 students who, as the club’s president and founder says, “spread love and kindness on campus to brighten up people’s day.”

The club wants these acts to remain random and unexpected, so the president prefers to remain anonymous.

Arts_RandomActs_CourtesyofRandomActsA random act of kindness can be anything: it can be smiling at a stranger, giving out hugs, or handing out hot chocolate during midterm week. The act is done freely without expecting to get anything in return.

“One of my friends works at a Starbucks drive–through,” the president says. “One day, this gentleman came and told her he wanted to pay for the person behind him.”

The next person was so surprised and thankful that he decided to pay for the next person in line, and the trend went on for almost two full hours. The club members hope their actions will also have this positive ripple effect.

The club was created last January by two friends who enjoy doing random acts of kindness and thought they would have a stronger effect as part of a group. As of September 2013, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) recognizes the Random Acts of Kindness as a club and members can log volunteer hours on uoZone.

“Just like the acts of kindness are random, we meet randomly every few weeks, ” says the president. “Students exchange their ideas and then we see how we can make it work. Then we do the event and we’ll meet one week after to see what we can do better.”

The club members find that most students respond to acts of kindness in one of two ways.

“Some people are surprised, but they’re very thankful,” the president says. “And then there are just some people who don’t understand and think maybe you’re trying to poison them.”

Club members perform official acts of kindness wearing white T-shirts illustrated with pink hearts held out between two hands in a symbol of giving. The club tries to promote a relaxed, stress–free atmosphere, and they are always looking for new members.

“When you give, you really receive, not in material ways, but you find this inner peace,” the president says. “Many different people come because they just want to help and get involved.”

Who knows whose day will be brightened next—it might even be yours.

Students can join the club’s Facebook group, www.facebook.com/groups/RAKuottawa.