Local Initiatives

Kindness Marathon at Mich. Co-op

By Victoria A. Rocha | ECT Staff Writer Published: December 16th, 2013

You’re doing your food shopping at a supermarket and a stranger in a Santa cap offers to buy a bag of groceries. Or you’re pumping gas and someone offers to pay for a tank.

While a Salvation Army bell ringer goes on break, Midwest Energy volunteers step in, one of many good deeds done in one day. (Photo By: Midwest Energy)

While a Salvation Army bell ringer goes on break, Midwest Energy volunteers step in, one of many good deeds done in one day. (Photo By: Midwest Energy)

Unsuspecting members of Midwest Energy Cooperative in Cassopolis, Mich., found themselves on the receiving end of those good deeds recently. Making that holiday cheer possible was a group of employees conducting a Random Acts of Community Kindness Attack, a daylong marathon of goodness.

“I walked up to the next person in line, introduced myself,” and offered to buy him $20 worth of groceries, said Amber Mark, a customer care rep at the co-op and a RACK Attack team member.

“He said, ‘Are you serious?’ And I said, ‘Yes, sir! I am serious. All I ask is that you pass this kindness on to someone else.’ And he said, ‘I definitely will be doing that! This just made my day!’”

Mark and others at the co-op are hoping that other RACK Attack recipients will heed that caveat—paying forward acts of kindness.

“We began the project to show the community that we’re giving back and maybe even inspire others to do the same. One small action can really change someone’s day,” said Nicole Barfell, who, with co-worker Lori Ruff, are project founders and organizers.

RACK Attacks are held twice a year, in December and June. The most recent RACK Attack began at 7 a.m. on a windy, 25-degree day. The element of spontaneity was extended to volunteers, too.

“We didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Mark, who was one of four volunteers. Ruff and Barfell had planned everything. “We just hopped in a van.”

Donning Santa caps, volunteers gave hot chocolate to school crossing guards; delivered muffins to a local business; hid surprises in library books for future patrons; and gave goodie bags filled with feet and hand warmers to postal carriers.

In between activities, volunteers cooked dinner for families at a Ronald McDonald House just over the border in South Bend, Ind. While not a total surprise—the co-op had called ahead of time—the gesture was appreciated just the same.

“They are my electric carrier at home, and it’s so great that they do this kind of thing,” said Kellie Montgomery, volunteer coordinator at the Ronald McDonald House.

A day of nonstop generosity “really gets you in the mood to give and hopefully it will put someone else in the same mood,” said Mark. “Afterwards, I went home and shared my stories. I was exhausted, but it was so much fun and a great learning experience.”

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