By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to make people smile.
That’s what happened Feb. 17, when Programmed Insurance Brokers employees went head to head with Family Service Kent staffers to see which organization could generate the most random acts of kindness in a 24-hour period.
Handing out coffee cards to strangers and dozens of other good old-fashioned deeds were part of the community endeavour.
Calling it “friendly fire,” FSK community support service manager Jyl Panjer, said the challenge was issued to mark a week’s worth of events during Canada’s first ever Kindness Week.
The event came into being last summer after it was introduced by a Canadian senator and then tabled by Conservative MP Michael Barrett.
The entire third week of February will now be known as Kindness Week, with the Random Acts of Kindness Day to be held on one of the weekdays.
Panjer said the kindness initiative couldn’t come at a better time.
“We need a general mood boost right now,” Panjer explained. “Right now I think the world is obsessed with rhetoric and divisiveness and random acts of kindness counteracts that. Plus, it’s a fun thing to do.”
PIB account executive Chris Ovecka and his colleagues agree. With only 16 local employees between its offices in Blenheim and Chatham versus the Family Service contingent of 43, PIB was badly outnumbered.
But it didn’t stop the enthusiasm.
Ovecka said to “bring it on.
“People are going through a lot right now,” he added. “This is a way to bring everyone together and a way to think about other things.”
PIB co-worker Julianne Saunders said it’s good timing for RAK, as people seem to be defensive and on high alert.
“I totally agree we need something positive right now,” Saunders said.
Besides making others feel good, random acts of kindness have plenty of benefits for the doer.
“It positively influences our overall health and wellbeing,” Panjer said. “It puts the focus back on what people can control and what they can do to make themselves feel better.”
Photos from the local random acts of kindness challenge can be found online on each of the organization’s webpages.