With the stress of the recession, the residual frustration of the transit strike and general winter doldrums, Kindness Week in Ottawa may be just the thing to get residents and spirits up, says the chairman of Ottawa Kindness Week.
"This time of the year couldn't be better for it," said Rabbi Reuven Bulka of Congregation Machzikei Hadas on Sunday. "We have a downturn that has a lot of people upset, a strike, and we didn't even have the Senators do well.
"Hopefully, acknowledging each other and helping each other will make a difference."
Facilitated by United Way/Centraide Ottawa, the second annual Kindness Week, which starts Monday and runs through Sunday, will feature activities throughout the community, in schools and workplaces.
"It's a simple idea," said Bulka. "It's not expensive and the return to the investment is dramatic. It's very little expenditure and the amount of good it does is absolutely beyond. Kindness is recession-proof," he said. "And the more things you do for someone, the better you feel about yourself."
Bulka got the idea for Kindness Week last year, when he started "wondering what we could do to make a good place ever better."
"A transit strike, an uncertain economy and a long winter can test even the most thoughtful amongst us," said United Way/Centraide Ottawa president and CEO Michael Allen. "There's no doubt that we can all use a little more kindness in our lives right now."
One of the driving tools behind Kindness Week is the Kindness Card, which carries the "pay-it-forward" message. More than 200,000 cards will be distributed throughout the community at events, in schools, workplaces, restaurants, and by the Kindness Crew. Card recipients are encouraged to do something kind, then leave the card behind. The person on the receiving end can then share where and how kindness happened to them at kindottawa.ca.
Other initiatives include Ottawa police officers handing out kindness citations to individuals "caught" being kind during Kindness Week, which can be redeemed at Rideau Bakery locations for a free treat; the Drive for Drivers Project, which provides transportation services for seniors and adults with disabilities to attend their essential medical appointments; and the Kindness Crew Bus Tour, which travels around the city performing acts of kindness. Sunday, they will be sorting food at the Ottawa Food Bank.