Free hugs, free food and random kindness


By Ly Nguyen

This past week, Union participated in the national Random Act of Kindness Week, which ran through Feb. 9, 2015, to Feb. 13, 2015.

The tradition of spreading kindness was started by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, which usually designates  Random Acts of Kindness Week to coincide with Valentine’s Day.

Assistant Director of Kenney Community Center Janet Sweeney explained that with the help of a group of students, she could encourage people to do something nice and, at the same time, promote the Kenney Community Center during Random Acts of Kindness Week.

With the Kenney Community Center’s incentive, the first Random Acts of Kindness Week at Union took place in 2012.

The annual celebration has, so far, been met with favorable reception.

It has spurred students to do their own activities in their dorms, such as writing thank-you notes for the cleaning staff.

“It’s nice to do something for your own campus and also see people going out of their way to do something nice for you. It can brighten your day,” Sweeney explained.

As part of Random Acts of Kindness Week, Kenney Community Center volunteers were involved in planning the events.

The volunteers were tabling in Reamer Campus Center from Monday to Friday, one hour before and throughout the Common Lunch hour.

Every day, there were a total of 10 to 12 students from Wells House and Alpha Delta Lambda, as well as other individuals. In particular, ADL sent out a many of its members to table at the event.

Similar to last year, on Monday, there were popcorn bags and pins with Random Acts of Kindness Week labels. Also, raffle tickets that had been placed in students’ mailboxes were collected at the table in Reamer.

Tuesday seemed to be most memorable to students because of the “Free Bake Sale.” There was a large supply of cakes from Campus Kitchen, Culinary House, Wells House and other individuals

“Starting from noon, the bake sale ran out at 1:50 p.m. Volunteers were happy and many people were confused by the word ‘sale’ when they saw the bake sale,” Sweeney said. The students who passed by were pleasantly surprised to find out that the cakes were free.

On Wednesday, there was a wheel where students could pick cards with quotes or win a prize. There was also free hot chococlate outside of the building.

On Thursday, volunteers provided thank-you cards, looked up mailbox numbers and mailed the cards through U.S. postage, if necessary. At least 100 cards were sent.

Rights House also participated, distributing jars with cards that included inspirational quotes.

As the last event, on Friday, Kenney Center volunteers gave out free hugs and Hershey Kisses.

Sweeney noted that, this year, the Kenney Community Center reached “out to the surrounding community by sending small groups of people to survivor communities, City Mission, Nursing Homes and children in crisis to distribute gift and snack bags.”

The Kenney Community Center received funding from UNITAS, an organization in Union that fosters relationships with the Schenectady community. The funds proved helpful in buying supplies and running activities during Random Acts of Kindness Week.

The prizes for the raffle consisted of many donations. The Wicker Wellness Center donated a gift basket, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Kim Plofker donated a handmade quilt and other individuals donated smaller prizes.

Morgan Clark ’17, who is an active Kenney Center volunteer, helped to table at the Reamer Campus Center every day.

Clark said, “Random Acts of Kindness Week makes people, the campus and Reamer happier. I am nicer to people during the week, too.”

Random Acts of Kindness Week gave students the opportunity to step out of their normal routines and to attempt a random act of kindness each day of the celebratory week.

The purpose of the week, according to the original founder of Random Acts of Kindness Week, is to help people to “teach, learn, collaborate, grow and communicate the kindness they care about in their unique ways.”


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