By Heather Cass, Publications Manager, Penn State Behrend
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love.” Jackie DeShannon’s words ring as true in 2021 as they did in 1965.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, why not put a little love in the world? Here are some pandemic-friendly Random Acts of Kindness and other good-deed ideas from the Office of Civic and Community Engagement.
Behrend-Specific Acts of Kindness
- Volunteer to support our students who are in quarantine and isolation (staff and faculty only). Get more info or sign up to help
- Give money or donate food and/or personal care items for packages that are delivered to students in quarantine and isolation. See the graphic below for a list of items needed and how to donate them.
- Reach out to an office/department that has been essential in keeping campus open and our students safe and cared for during this time. An acknowledgment is enough but sending a treat would be even sweeter. A few ideas: candy, donuts, flowers, popcorn, or cookies.
- Message someone you know has been struggling with the circumstances brought about by COVID-19. Some staff and faculty members are working extremely long hours, others have had their hours reduced, some may have lost loved ones during this time, while others may be feeling isolated or overwhelmed.
- If you are a current student, join a service club at Penn State Behrend, such as the Random Act of Kindness club, Reality Check, Circle K, or Project Paws. You can find a list of service-oriented clubs here.
Fifteen General Random Acts of Kindness
- Paint small rocks and place them around campus, parks, or other public areas for others to find. Find directions and lots of ideas on Pinterest.com.
- Leave a note and water or snacks for delivery drivers.
- When you’re getting coffee or a snack at a fast-food restaurant, pay for the car behind you.
- When you get great service, call the number or take the survey printed on your receipt and praise the worker who helped you. Those comments do get back to the workers.
- Leave positive online reviews for restaurants or businesses you frequent. If you buy items from Etsy, take the time to write a short review; sellers are rewarded with more visibility when they get good reviews.
- Whenever possible, try to buy local and support small businesses, even if it costs a few dollars more. Those businesses need you now more than ever.
- Add encouraging messages to a public sidewalk using chalk, or just draw something colorful to share your art with the world.
- Write a positive message on a sticky note and put it on a bathroom mirror or some other public place.
- Start a virtual book club. It’s as easy as picking a book and inviting fellow readers to join you in a future Zoom discussion of the book. Many people are longing for connection today and books provide a shared experience and brief escape from reality.
- Call the older people in your life, whether your parents, grandparents, or friends. It’s likely they are feeling especially isolated and would welcome the opportunity to talk.
- When you brush snow off your car on a snowy day, do the same with a few other cars around you.
- Set up a Zoom meeting with young relatives – even kindergarteners can handle a tablet or phone meeting. This past year has been draining for parents of young children. It’s likely they will relish the break while their little ones talk your ear off and show you all their toys.
- Offer to tutor younger relatives or friends struggling with remote learning. Not only will you help them but explaining concepts can help you better understand them yourself.
- Check out the wish list for a local animal shelter (most have one online) and see what items you might be able to donate or collect.
- Be considerate of others – hold the door for someone behind you, return your grocery cart, let some go ahead of you at the grocery store or in traffic, and, of course, wear your mask.
If nothing here speaks to you, Chris Fox, assistant director of Civic Engagement and Smith Chapel, suggests simply focusing on putting yourself in another person’s shoes and go from there.
“Any act that demonstrates empathy will have a positive impact,” Fox said. “Empathy is a great tool for healing and can help us get through difficult times.”