One of the coolest events Random Acts does each year is the Annual Melee of Kindness (AMOK). I’ve done it twice myself, and this year was even cooler than the last!
So I bet you’re wondering what a photo of Times Square is doing on my blog. No, sadly, I wasn’t in NYC to take that photo. But a number of Random Acts staffers and supporters–including musician Justin Guarini!–made a big splash in the Big Apple, gathering food and supplies for needy animals, and having a great time.
The fun continued a few months later during the Endure4Kindness event (E4K). This time, the Random Acts team offered video tours of the city via Periscope, in exchange for donations! Here’s mine (warning: it’s long…also, peacocks).
The great thing about Random Acts is that crazy and fun events like this happen all over the world–not just in major cities like NYC. You can get a glimpse of some of the random goings-on over at their Kindness Files!
Yesterday’s blog post was all about how Random Acts got its start. As part of my continuing series about this wonderful organization, I wanted to introduce you to their first project: Hope 2 Haiti.
When co-founder Misha Collins tweeted to his fans in early 2010, asking them to support relief efforts in Haiti through UNICEF, the response was overwhelming. So overwhelming, in fact, that it inspired Misha and some friends to create Random Acts. Inspired by a woman named Bonite Affriany, Random Acts and its supporters helped create the Jacmel Children’s Center. This center serves as an orphanage and school for children displaced by the devastating hurricanes. This was the first tangible evidence of Random Acts’ impact in the world, and the combined efforts of hundreds of people.
Random Acts’ current project is Dreams 2 Acts: Nicaragua. Construction is already well underway on a beautiful free high school in San Juan del Sur. The school will help bring educational opportunities back to those who have been excluded from school through a variety of circumstances. Along with large-scale projects like these, Random Acts continues to provide financial support for a wide variety of acts of kindness all over the world.
Because I believe in the power of kindness, and because Random Acts inspires me so much, I have chosen to “donate” my birthday to the cause on CrowdRise.com. I hope you’ll take a look at my fundraising page, and donate/share if you feel so moved. I like feeling like I can be a force for positive change in the world, and this is one of the ways I’ve chosen to do that. Please join me!
As a writer, I love a good backstory. And after I discovered Misha Collins and Random Acts, I wanted to know theirs. How did they get their start? What was the “defining moment” that put the wheels into motion?
Turns out, it was all about a tweet.
Misha Collins: The Man Behind Random Acts
Random Acts was co-founded by actor Misha Collins, best known as Castiel from the tv show Supernatural. Now, celebrities diving into charitable endeavors is certainly nothing new. But I wondered what motivated him into starting this. So, I did some digging.
I didn’t have to look far, because I quickly found this video:
There was just something about that collective positive energy–as harnessed by the internet–that really grabbed my attention. Sure, the internet is flooded with garbage “news” articles, trolls making unintelligent commentary, and worse. But this! This was proof that we could do better. It continues to be that proof.
Although there are many reasons why I admire and appreciate Random Acts, one of the things that keeps it close to my heart is the fact that it’s a place where that positive collective energy can go. We don’t have to sit idly by, shaking our heads at the negativity of others. We don’t have to just wish we could think of “something” we could do. Change is happening–here, and elsewhere–and they welcome all of us to be a part of it.
That’s why this year, I’m “donating” my birthday to Random Acts and their message. It’s my way of saying “thank you” to an organization that does so much, and inspires me and so many others to “conquer the world, one random act of kindness at a time”. I hope you’ll visit their website to learn more about them. And if you like, make a small contribution through my CrowdRise birthday campaign. Together, we can change the world.
In case you didn’t know, all the pictures from my blog posts for this month come from my recent Pecha Kucha talk about Random Acts and why kindness matters. Because I’m shameless, I’m going to remind you that you can watch said talk right here. (Thanks again, PK!)
A little over a year ago, I had an idea of something I could do to help support this new organization I had kind of fallen in love with. I had done a couple of “acts” already, and was talking to folks about possibly joining the staff (someday…). But I wanted to do something else. Something unique.
One of the ways I like to spend my spare time–when I have it!–is by making jewelry. I never seem to find pieces I like, so I just kind of play around with stuff until I like what I see. One day I got the idea to make bracelets with little hidden messages in them. My method of choice? Seed beads that spell out secret letters in Morse code.
I was originally going to make these as my endurance project for Random Acts’ Endure4Kindness event, but it was months away! And I was impatient. So I asked if I could make bracelets that spelled “get kind” and sell them as an actual fundraiser, and I was approved to do so! So I opened up a little online shop and got to work. (Here’s the link if you’re curious.)
As it turned out, I still made them for E4K, and gave away everything I made. Donors got a bracelet, donors who gave more got custom bracelets, and I sent the rest to Random Acts. They were planning another volunteer trip to Nicaragua, and I wanted to give them a little something to cheer them on. Help the helpers, so to speak. And in response, I got this lovely tweet from the team:
I can’t tell you how happy that little gesture made me! It made me feel like a little part of me was there, supporting the team in their work. It’s funny, but for the past week, I’ve had a little bit of Lord of the Rings in my head, where Samwise says to Frodo, “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.” I can’t step away from work and family responsibilities at this stage in my life–though I hope it won’t always be that way–but I can send a small gift of support to those who can. (Also, you can see what the Nicaragua team has been doing right here.)
I’m not selling Morse code bracelets at this time, but I plan to bring them back for next year’s E4K. Or, if you’d like one now, just donate to my birthday fundraiser and I’ll make you one! (See what I did there?)
I’ll admit, I kind of admire runners. Like, running isn’t my thing. Never has been, never will be. But I have an number of friends who regularly run 5Ks, half marathons, and full marathons. Some run for various charities, some run just for fun. At least, I think some people find it fun…. (I kid!)
Recently, my church has taken a more active role in the life of the outside community. Sure, we support homeless shelters and deliver food to needy families, and other things that churches usually do. But someone had the cool idea of helping with the Illinois Marathon by handing out jelly beans to the runners on their way. Neat, right? I personally never would have thought of that! But I loved the idea of being able to sort-of participate in a marathon–just by cheering for the runners rather than taking the trek myself. Pretty sure that’s not something I can do!
So, for the second year in a row, I stood in the rain with our rector, her husband, and a number of other fellow parishioners, giving out jelly beans and encouraging the runners as they passed by. Lots and lots of runners gratefully accepted the sugar hit. Many others who declined still took a moment to thank us for being there to support them. And I think all of my runner friends managed to find me and at least shout a hello as they ran by. One friend, whom I’ve known since high school and who comes to town just for the marathon, sought me out on the route and broke stride just to give me a hug. What an awesome example of how kindness is returned to you, often right in the moment of giving it.
Remember when I said above that I was pretty sure I couldn’t run a marathon? Well, Random Acts has recently given me an opportunity to come close! A few days ago, they announced a new event, called Steps For Kindness. It’s a 5K (so no, still no marathon for this chick!), but…it’s a virtual 5K! This is something I had never heard of before! A virtual 5K is something you do on your own schedule, at your own pace. You can even break your run (or walk, in my case) into multiple sessions if you want. Heck, you can even do it on a treadmill at the gym or in your home! Now that’s a 5K I can actually do! Think you can, too? Just follow Random Acts on Facebook or Twitter to get details as they come.