By Collett Rangitsch, Wyoming, Director of Standards
In the fall of 2012, I was staring down the big 5-0 that was approaching in eight months. I’m not one for parties or celebrations, but I wanted to celebrate this one in a big way (for me). I wanted my celebration to be something meaningful, not in an in-your-face kind of way, but something that could include others and be a true challenge. Then one day I stumbled upon someone who was doing random acts each day of her 50th year. While I’m dedicated, I’m also realistic. With eight months to do 50 random acts–“I can do this,” I told myself.
So I made a list of 50 friends and relatives (I’m a list maker and need constant reminders) and started the search for something to give to these friends to remind them of the challenge I was about to begin. As luck would have it, I found Pay-it-Forward bracelets made by the Oregon company Nashelle. The tagline on the card: “Believe there is good in the world— start locally and watch the world begin to flourish.”
I gave one to each friend that I asked to join me in the 50 Random Acts Challenge. Each member of the Fraternity’s chapter team was given one and in January 2013, I set out to document my journey. At first my acts were less random and more intentional— the challenge, the bracelets, paying for a cup of coffee for the person behind me. Then one day I realized I was no longer just intentionally doing acts of kindness, but I was simply being more kind to others. I was holding the door, making eye contact with strangers, saying good morning. These little things made me feel good both physically and mentally. I managed to complete my goal of 50 acts by mid-June, and soon realized that I had forever changed my habits, completing random acts of kindness without even thinking about it.
In August 2013, for the eighth year in a row, I spent my birthday at Fraternity Headquarters with my Kappa friends. We went out to a great dinner and I was thrilled that there was no big deal made about it being a big day for me. Upon returning to HQ, I got the surprise of my life when the chapter and Leadership Consultant teams showered me with their own acts of kindness. The chapter team created a special book for me, each writing a page of what the challenge meant to them and some of the acts they had done. The cover – “Believe There Is Good in the World” – is perfect; the words inside are one of my most treasured gifts.
They spoke of stepping out of their comfort zone to do something for others, they mention how sometimes those on the receiving end aren’t as receptive to the act, and they spoke about being inspired.
Their finale was reaching out to a Reading Is Fundamental program near my home in Wyoming. Each donated a book in my name to a local school. I can’t describe the emotions that I felt at that moment. Books, something that I myself love dearly, were donated in my name, all because I challenged others to join me on this journey!
So, as National Random Act of Kindness Week begins today, consider doing something special for a random person and be the good in the world.
Editor’s Note: Feb. 9–15 is International Random Act of Kindness Week. Join in the celebration by doing your own random act of kindness and step out of your normal routine. Share your acts using #RAKweek and #KKG and you may be featured on Kappa’s official social media channels.