National Random Acts of Kindness Day

Author: Ashley Benedict

Today is National Random Acts of Kindness Day.

Though we should engage in acts of kindness 365 days a year, the reality is that most of us don’t. We don’t buy lunch for our friends, donate blood, or donate to charity every day. Today, however, is a day we can use as an excuse to show some kindness towards the people in our life (or, even better, those who aren’t). It’s always nice to be on the receiving end of someone else’s kindness, but it also feels good to be the one giving. Here are some things you can do to brighten someone’s day and show some kindness today (and every day):

1. Smile at a stranger.

This is the simplest – and perhaps most awkward – thing you can do. But hey, you never know if they’ll smile back, or if your smile will end up making their day just a little bit better.

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2. Give a genuine compliment.

Tell someone you like their shirt, or pants, or shoes. Tell your friends how great they look. Tell your coworkers how rockin’ they look every day. Shower your significant other with compliments. I know I always feel good when people compliment me. Spread the love.

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3. Offer to buy lunch for a friend

Obviously, if you’re tight on cash, don’t feel obligated to show kindness through purchases. But if you have plans with a friend today, perhaps offer to cover them, and maybe they’ll return the favor someday. Kindness is contagious. Even better, reach out to your local homeless community and buy hot meal or two. Even a small coffee would likely be appreciated.

4. Make a donation

Most organizations love and life off of donations. Check in with some local non-profits to see what kind of items they look for and often need. Here on GVSU’s campus, Replenish is a great place to start if you find yourself wanting to donate.

Replenish hours of operation: Monday through Thursday 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. and Friday 1 p.m. -3 p.m.; Kirkhof Center room 0074-lower level

Donations are accepted on site at Replenish or at the Women’s Center during open hours. Off-campus entities can request someone pick up their donations by contacting the Women’s Center at 616-331-2748 or womenctr@gvsu.edu. Donations may be in the form of perishable and non-perishable food items, gift cards to local grocery stores, or a monetary donation. Donations are tax-deductible and the donor will be provided with a receipt from University Development reflecting their contribution. Some of the items that are most popular include laundry detergent, pasta sauce, cereal, peanut butter, canned chicken/tuna, pasta, soup, granola bars, and feminine hygiene products.

5. Donate blood

If you find you have an extra few hours today, perhaps drop by a local blood bank and offer to donate blood. There is a national need for blood donations every day (every 2 seconds, actually), and knowing that you’ll be helping someone out there and potentially saving a life is as good enough a reason as any to go out and take the time to donate. Blood banks often run out of type O and B blood. Do you have one of those blood types? Your donation would be especially appreciated. Go to http://www.miblood.org/ to find some donation centers or blood drives near you. GVSU also has multiple blood drives coming up, so be sure to check those out!

6. Hold the door or elevator open for someone

For most of us, this is a common courtesy we do subconsciously every day. However, try to do it every time you open a door or ride an elevator today. Those around you will appreciate it, and it often leads to them doing the same for other people! If the person is super far away though, things may get awkward. Hold the door open at your own risk of becoming a door stop.

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7. Pay it forward.

Like previously stated, don’t feel obligated to do this if you’re tight on money. But it’s always a nice surprise to find that someone has paid for your coffee or movie, and again, it often leads to a chain of people doing the same.

8. Call a loved one

A lot of students live on campus, and may not be able to see their loved ones as often as they would like. If you’re one of those students, try to set aside some time today to call up some family members and let them know how much you care about and appreciate them. They won’t be expecting it, and I guarantee it’ll make their day to hear from you.

9. Ask if you can help

If you see someone on or off campus struggling with something, it can never hurt to ask whether or not they would like some help. Most people will probably appreciate the extended offer, and if they take it, it’ll feel nice to know that you’ve done something for another person with no external reward.

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10. Volunteer

Perhaps the most important thing you can do, if you have the time, is volunteer. Come to the Women’s Center and ask about organizations we work with, and how/when you can help. Call up some local non-profits and see when they need volunteers and the kinds of duties they complete. A lot of organizations tend to rely on volunteers, and it’s always nice for them to see people taking an interest in their work.

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The great thing about all of these ideas are that they are small things you can do any day of the year. Make a habit out of extending kindness to others and engaging in random acts of kindness. If we all tried to focus on those around us a bit more, I think our society could be a lot more empathetic and compassionate. Find more information on the website: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/

What kind of random acts of kindness do you do on the daily? Which ones do you plan to do in the future? How do you feel when you do something kind for others? Or when others do something kind for you? Let us know! Submit personal stories, essays, and more to gvsufeministvoices@gmail.com.

 

Question of the Day

The feminist movement is not perfect. It is important for us to continue to strive towards intersectionality and inclusivity in our every day lives. How can we make strides towards this goal? How can we alter our objectives and goals to include those who fall outside the gender binary? Let us know!

Question of the Day

It’s On Us: Bystander Intervention Training

AUTHOR: Ashley Benedict

Presenters: Betsie Schoedel, Vawa Graduate Assistant; Draya Garrett, Women’s Center Graduate Assistant; Candace F, Women’s Center Graduate Assistant; Ashley Schult, Women’s Center Victim’s Advocate

During the Teach-In last week, I attended two events facilitated by Women’s Center staff consisting of both students and faculty. One discussion in particular focused on Bystander Intervention Training, which focuses on teaching college students how to (safely) intervene in situations where sexual violence can occur. It’s On Us was created as a way to address sexual violence on college campuses and encourage students to be active bystanders in these sort of situations. This blog post touches on the distinguishing factors between an active bystander and bystander, the realities of sexual assault, what consent is, tips and tricks on how to be an active bystander, as well as actual scenarios where active bystanders are needed.

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Women’s March: What Comes Next?

AUTHOR: Ashley Benedict

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Yesterday was a truly phenomenal occurrence. All over the world, across countries and continents, people marched as one for a worldwide Women’s March. This march was an effort to show solidarity and unity between people of all genders, sexualities, races, ethnicities, religions, classes, abilities, and backgrounds. It celebrated the power of women and the role that we have had throughout history. It called to action the disparities that still exist in women’s rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, racial rights, education, and so much more. It is the largest recorded inaugural protest in U.S. history.

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Source: Common Dreams (hyperlink attached to picture)

Yesterday made me proud to be an activist. It made me hopeful for the future. But at the same time, I have this nagging question in the back of my mind: what happens now? For most of us every day activists, the fight continues. We go on with our lives and try to make a difference through our words and actions. We try to educate and advocate. We do what we have always done. But then there are the people who attended these marches, who are unused to organized protests and every day activism. What will they do? Will they continue on in this everlasting battle? Or will they go on with their lives today as though nothing ever happened?

This question haunts me. And I do believe that if we are to truly effect change in this country – in this world – we need to see everyone who participated take a stand, not just for a day, but every day.

So what comes next?

I found this handy dandy list from this source, and I thought that they were some great ideas for those who are unsure what to do now.

  • What will you commit to doing after the marches?
  • Which organizations get funded and which ones don’t? Why?
  • When you donate, how is the money being spent?
  • Can you identify the body of work being produced?
  • What types of people are given opportunities to speak? People from that community or people OUTSIDE of that community? (I will discuss what “privilege” means in another post.)
  • How and why do certain issues become top priorities for who and why?
  • Which strategies worked and didn’t work in the past?

These are just a few questions that all activists should ask themselves. It is important that we have these conversations, not only with ourselves, but with other people as well. “Activism is not about how many panel discussions you can do. It’s about centering the stories and voices of people who are MOST affected.

After you ask yourself these questions, it’s important to focus on both REACTION and then ACTION. Allow yourself to sort through your emotions on these issues, as well as your own personal beliefs. But don’t allow yourself to remain focused on the negatives, because in the end, it will make you feel hopeless. Instead, turn your initial feelings into ACTION. Don’t simply think to yourself, “Wow, this is a horrible thing that needs to change.” If you take initiative to become an active part of your community, you can be apart of the effort to create change. Join a grassroots organization – put in the work. Use your voice to speak up against injustice. Direct the spotlight onto the people who are most affected by these oppressive institutions. And more than anything: organize.

Marching is a tool, not a goal. If you have no plan before and after the march, it will not be sustainable. It will merely just be a memory and that won’t be powerful enough to overcome ANY racist administration.

I really do hope that the massive turnout across the world yesterday will be a sign that people are ready to fight for the rights of not only themselves, but for everyone else as well. Preaching equal rights is one thing, but actively fighting for equal rights across the board is another. If we are to hope for any sort of change at all, these conversations have to continue, and so do these massive events. However, we cannot organize with no true goals in mind. Otherwise, we are filling the streets with nothing more than dreams – and dreams are fine and all, but fulfilling those dreams would taste even sweeter, I imagine.

I have learned a lot about activism in the years I’ve been an activist, and I’m still learning. I know there’s more that I could do, and that’s my own personal goal: to do more. Get more involved in my community. Research grassroots organizations and ask them what I can do to help. Use my own privilege to bolster the voices of those less privileged. Move into action.

What will you do?

Question of the Day

Dissecting Sexism: One (Art) Piece At A Time

AUTHOR: Holly Hughes

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The images above are collages which I created from text and images taken from Reader’s Digest books from the fifties and sixties, and magazines marketed for women (Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Seventeen, etc.). Each speaks to an array of socially charged issues that women encounter. The collages address these concepts with a certain degree of humor and sarcasm, which functions as a means to draw viewers in.