Random Acts by Lori Powell
By Lori Powell
‘Random Acts is a non-profit organisation that’s aiming to conquer the world, one random act of kindness at a time. We’re dedicated to funding and inspiring acts of kindness around the world.’
Inspiration comes from many sources and our journey to find that inspiration can, at times, be surprising or indeed seemingly random. The powerful tool of social media is a great way these days to get out a message, any message, and it was via Twitter that I first heard about Random Acts.
I wasn’t particularly looking for information about charities – okay the truth, I was following the Supernatural fandom – but when I heard about Random Acts, I had to find out more. The charity was co-founded, and has as its Board President, actor Misha Collins, who plays the angel Castiel in the Supernatural series. In 2009 he realised that he had a great platform with his Twitter following to create a charity and Random Acts evolved from there. The aim of the charity is to encourage people to take part in random acts of kindness both big and small.
For me it is the philosophy of the charity that I found so appealing. In our dog-eat-dog world, where so much emphasis is based on the big achievements in life, I was drawn to the simple message that a random act of kindness can make the hugest difference to a person’s day. On the ‘about’ page of Random Acts it says;
‘A stranger needs help carrying their groceries. A homeward bound neighbour could use some cheering up. These opportunities crop up every day and most of us are so busy that we miss them. All you have to do is pay attention and offer kindness whenever, wherever you can.’
And this got me thinking. A lot. In today’s busy, busy society it is easy to overlook those simple acts but the charity encourages people to take time to make small, random acts ,of kindness that can really make a difference to people. Helping someone carry their shopping or visiting an elderly neighbour for example, easy things, that cost nothing more than a little time. I think everyone if they thought about it, could give examples of acts of kindness they have done, of course we can, we’re all pretty nice human beings, right? Go on think about it for a minute, yesterday, last week, that time in the holidays…yeah we’ve all helped someone out, we’re good people.
But, and I know this is true in my case, there are other times when we could look a bit harder for someone to help. The thing that struck me when I read about this charity is how it’s the little things that sometimes make the most difference. Okay, think about it, that woman sitting all alone in the cafe when you went in last week, a smile and a hallo could have made her day, but you were stressed, the parking ticket was nearly up, you still had four more shops to visit and the children were getting grumpy, so you ignored her completely and did what you had to do. That rain storm yesterday, it was a nightmare putting the bins out and you were soaked to the skin and frozen in half a minute – so you didn’t bother going round to see if your elderly next door neighbour needed a hand with theirs. These are made up examples, but I bet they hit close to home with many of us. I bet we can all think of things we’ve ignored. I, for one, am going to be more aware.
The simplicity of this charity is very appealing, how easy it is to make a difference and how all of us can participate in that. Of course they encourage bigger acts of kindness and help too; a film on the website shows money raised to buy a car for a family whose child had cancer and needed the vehicle for hospital appointments. It also shows how money raised helped someone buy an outfit for a job interview, it shows bikes being handed out in New Jersey and shoes being bought for a child. All with money raised by people for Random Acts.
So how do they raise money? Well, as well as accepting donations, Random Acts have different events throughout the year. AMOK (Annual Melee of Kindness) is where, one day a year, you go into your community and perform acts of kindness – from clearing the rubbish up in the street to putting on a play at the children’s hospital. We all have something we can offer.
As I type, the E4K weekend has just finished for 2013. E4K, or Endure for Kindness, is a marathon money raising event. Participants’ sign up do an activity continuously for a set period of time, raising money for charity while they do it. Running marathons, gaming marathons, baking marathons, a sew-a-thon, – it doesn’t have to be anything difficult and, as they state in their values, kindness breeds kindness and being kind is fun!
Misha Collins himself is a very active participant in Random Acts – this year he ran 20 miles in a very fetching waitress outfit, another year he ran 50 miles. Again film clips show him handing out bikes and shoes and doing it all with a silly striking stick on moustache and a huge smile on his face. He most certainly is not just a famous name on the stationery. I didn’t find out about this charity, and specifically E4K, until it was too late to participate, but next year I’m definitely going to join in.
There is a great team behind the charity – a team that extends worldwide and there is a great deal of fantastic information on their website about them and the charity itself. So if you’re interested in finding out more, follow this link www.therandomact.org/about/ . They also have the links for you to follow Random Acts on Twitter and Facebook etc. So, come on, who’s going to join me and become one of Misha’s minions and help change the world one random act of kindness at a time?