June 15, 2024

Just one act of kindness can go a long way. It could turn a person’s day into one they will remember. Just think how you could grow that goodwill with many acts of kindness.

In May 2020, during the pandemic, Sheena Merling created a Facebook group called Act of Kindness (AOK), a group designed to take initiative and do something kind for someone else. Whether it’s paying for someone’s order in a drive-thru or buying a food or beverage for someone living on the streets, Merling and her crew have done it all.

“When the pandemic hit, everything was taken away and as a mother of four, I couldn’t do parent council, help with my neighbourhood association, or even bring my children out,” said Merling. “I couldn’t help in the community, and it bugged me.”

Marling explained over email that the group has existed for nearly two years and members from all over have contributed to its growth.

“It started off with family and friends and now has grown so much more than I ever could have imagined,” said Merling. “On Facebook we have 7,018 members and if you add the other social media groups together, we have a total of 8,671 members.”

Since the group first began, many members have performed various acts of kindness to show their gratitude to the community. Members have done deeds such as paying for another’s order in a drive-thru and creating and gifting goodie bags. Many members have earned the title of “fairies” a term used by the group to express those who gift members delicious goodie bags anonymously.

“Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind,” said Eric Hoffer, an American philosopher.

To continue this stream of kindness, Merling has partnered with the City of Kitchener to honour the next National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by creating a crosswalk that will be placed in the heart of Victoria Park. The City of Kitchener has given the group $22,500, the amount the group was hoping for.

Sheena Merling (left) and Nicole King (right) holding their first cheque from their LoveMyHood grant. Photo submitted by Sheena Merling.

The crosswalk design is scheduled to be revealed to the public on Sept. 30, 2022. A march will be hosted by the Healing of the Seven Generations and the crosswalk will be unveiled during the ceremony.

“This walkway can give people a place to go, reflect and gather one another and heal in their own way,” said Merling. “By taking steps across the crosswalk, they can stop by the water and reflect on what Every Child Matters means to them.”

Google Map and infographic made to show the location of the crosswalk. Photo submitted by Sheena Merling.

“There is no act of kindness that is too small or too big,” said Merling. “It’s what you want to do and it’s what comes from the heart. It could be as simple as a card with a $5 Tim Hortons card. Just those things that make you smile.”

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