Project356 Aware encourages unexpected acts of kindness

Project365 Aware strives to inspire students and community members to get out and do something good for others. Today, Project365 Aware, a movement founded by Weber State University student Braiden Thompson, is hoping 100 people or more will go out at a set time and perform random acts of kindness.

“The idea behind it originally was that you would go out and meet a new person every day and kind of experience the world through their eyes,” said Cam Banner, a participant in Project365 Aware and a family member of the founder. “The more we learn about the world, the more we realize we don’t know. It would be selfish of us to not experience the world through other people’s eyes.”

Project365 Aware went from simply inspiring others to meet new people to encouraging them to perform random of acts of kindness within a few weeks. Today’s Project365 activity is called a UKB, an “unexpected kindness blitz,” and is intended to get Project365’s message out and get more people involved.

“It all came as an idea a long time ago, and I wanted to talk to someone new every day, because I knew that was good to do, (to) get out of your comfort zone,” Thompson said. “It took me a few months to get myself to commit to doing that, and once I did that, I wrote a blog about the idea and what I wanted to do. By that point, about a week or two after, I was trying to think about how I could make it bigger, and that’s when the unexpected kindness blitzes came about.”

People had already caught on to Thompson’s idea about talking to strangers, and once he released the idea about random acts of kindness, people didn’t hesitate to jump on the bandwagon and get started.

“I think I am going to put a note with a candy bar on some people’s cars,” said Ashley Thayne, a participant in Project365. “I am also going to put something in my mailbox for the mailman. I’m kind of thinking of doing a pay-it-forward-type thing and put another envelope in there with a gift card or something and say, ‘Put this in somebody’s mailbox that needs it.’”

Participants of Project365 Aware said they are thrilled to get out and help others. They said it is an important event to participate in, and the project’s goal is for it to snowball, catching more people’s attention and exciting them to do more acts of kindness.

“We hope these acts of kindness perpetuate themselves and turn into more acts of kindness,” Banner said. “We produced cards, so when you preform your act of kindness, you will hand your card to that person or somehow get it to that person.”

These cards tell the recipients of the act of kindness that the act was brought to them by someone participating in Project365 Aware. The cards encourage the recipients to spread the word and share their experiences on Project365 Aware’s Tumblr page.

“We’ve created what is called a Thunderclap, which is a social platform where people can commit to participating in Project365 Aware,” Banner said. “We have made a prerecorded post saying you never know what one small act of kindness can do, and that post will go out from participants’ Twitter and Facebook pages.”

Thompson has spread the word by simply telling participants, as well as spreading it through online media.

“The thing I love about it is that nobody is in it to make money. It’s not like we are trying to make money off of it. It’s not like we are paying in,” Thayne said. “It’s just encouraging people to be kind to other people, and we need a lot more of that in the world today.”

Some WSU students said they are excited about performing unexpected acts of kindness and about how they think it will help the world.

“Random acts of kindness cause a chain reaction that not only brings happiness to the one being served, but also to you, too,” said Samantha Ahlin, a freshman. “They don’t take very long. You don’t even need to know the person, and service is one of the most thoughtful ways to help the world about.”