Mercedes, a single mom just trying to make ends meet, went to work expecting an ordinary day.
Instead, it quickly morphed into an extraordinary day with a windfall of more than $2,000 in cash and gift cards, and a new bicycle.
Mercedes was a recipient of a random-acts-of-kindness and Ripple Effect Movement mash-up organized by Kelowna-based motivational speaker and trainer Crystal Flaman.
“Mercedes worked at the Marmalade Cat Cafe and was so deserving and grateful,” said Flaman, founder of Ripple Effect Movement and Inspiring Success Services.
“We helped Mercedes last year and posted the video to RippleEffectMovement.com. Now I’m encouraging people to create their own ripple effect with National Random Acts of Kindness Day coming on Monday.”
That’s right, National Random Acts of Kindness Day is the same date as Family Day — a perfect dual opportunity to showcase the gift of giving with the whole family, according to Flaman.
In fact, Flaman declares it one of her favourite days, right up there with Christmas and her birthday.
For the Mercedes surprise, Flaman sent a Ripple Effect Movement email to 20 friends and businesses, urging all to contribute $50 each in cash or gift card.
Many of the friends showed up at the Marmalade Cat Cafe on the assigned day to grab a coffee and give Mercedes a big tip.
Businesses contributed gift cards, and enough extra money was raised to buy Mercedes a new bike, which was parked in front of the cafe, festooned with balloons.
Mercedes doesn’t have a car and was looking to cycle everywhere she could, if only she had a bike.
Flaman said your random act of kindness doesn’t have to be as elaborate as the Mercedes project.
“Just be aware of National Random Acts of Kindness Day and smile at someone to brighten their day or pay for the person’s cup of coffee in the drive-thru line at Tim Hortons, and maybe it will trigger a six-hour pay-it-forward marathon like the one five years ago at the Tim Hortons in Glenmore,” said Flaman.
“It’s all about generating a good story and feeling in these times of so much negativity.”
Flaman has 101 ideas to create a ripple effect in the inspiration corner section of her CrystalFlaman.com website.
Some of the suggestions include saying “I love you” to the people you love, helping a co-worker, shovelling a neighbour’s driveway, telling a (clean) joke, recycling, letting another motorist merge in traffic, sending a thank-you card, encouraging a child (or adult) to follow their passion, inviting friends over or simply being happy and sharing your joyous mood.
Better yet, create rituals at home, work and in the community that allow you to perform random acts of kindness daily year-round.
Every year, Flaman set up a “gratitude and wishing tree” along a hiking trail on Knox Mountain with a zip-lock bag stuffed with pens and cards on thread.
Hikers can write what they wish for or what they’re grateful for and hang the card on the tree.
“Some of the notes are a simple ‘thank you for this day’ or ‘thanks for a great hike,’” said Flaman.
“But many are profound, with people wishing a loved one can beat cancer, people wanting forgiveness for something, people wishing they could take something bad back they made happen, dismay over unrequited love and people wanting to get past the things that hold them back.”
National Random Acts of Kindness Day began in 1995, but the concept is believed to have started in 1982 with a woman named Ann Herbert.
On a placemat in a restaurant where she sat in Sausalito, Calif., she wrote “practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” in response to the random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty she often saw in the world around her.