September 28, 2020

BY SARA HANAFI
Paying for someone’s coffee, giving out flowers or holding the door were just a few things Conestoga students did to celebrate Random Act of Kindness Day.
Nov. 9 marked the fifth anniversary of the community initiative, which was started by the Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation (KWCF). Conestoga’s Respect Campaign partnered with the city-wide organization to promote kindness and courtesy around campus.
Ryan Connell, a Student Life programmer and the event planner, said the college has been very active in the initiative.
Students were treated to free popcorn and cotton candy, as well as free hot chocolate. There were also several booths set up where students could make bracelets, colour in colouring pages and make origami and paper fortune tellers. Additionally, students were encouraged to sign a banner saying what random act of kindness they had done for someone.
There were even volunteers canvassing the school giving out lollipops and official kindness cards, which students could then pass along to someone when performing a random act of kindness.
RAK Day was brought to Connell’s attention by a mature student the same year the KWCF introduced it.
“We’ve been involved since day one,” Connell said. “The idea is so pure and so well meaning in its intention. I thought it was a great idea.”
The first year Conestoga participated the event was very low-key, with only four or five volunteers handing out popcorn and kindness cards. Despite its small size, Connell said the response on campus from students was huge.
“Students were so eager about doing this, so we knew we wanted to continue it,” he said.
The next year, Conestoga joined forces with the Regional Random Act of Kindness Day Committee and RAK Day took off at the school.
“We’ve just continued to make it bigger and better,” Connell said.
This year, there were about 50 student volunteers, who were all Respect representatives during the Respect Campaign.
The event was celebrated on a smaller scale on other campuses as well, including Waterloo, Guelph and Cambridge, where students signed a banner and volunteers handed out candy and cards.
RAK Day was even a trending topic on Twitter – students were tweeting about it using #RAKday and saying what random act they did for someone, or something that had been done for them.
A couple of campus services at Doon even participated. Co-op and Career Services gave out free coffee, CSI Self-Serve had free black and white photocopies, and the library waived all late fees.
Brittney Loney, one of the volunteers helping at Doon, said the positive feedback from students was great.
“Not many people would think of doing these (random acts of kindness) on a regular basis, but I think with all these activities going on, people will consider doing it more,” she said.
The Respect Rep team is the largest volunteer committee at the college, consisting of over 130 student volunteers.
They are recruiting new members to volunteer as orientation leaders in January. To get involved, visit the Student Life office, located in A-wing across from Tim Hortons.