When Barbara Lukasz asked her friends to spend a Sunday afternoon handing out lunches to homeless people in Toronto, she had no idea that what was meant to be a photography project would blossom into an opportunity to bring a little more kindness into the world.
Lukasz, a second-year English student at Ryerson, is the founder of The Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Project.
The organization has been paying it forward since last September through monthly outings in Mississauga and Toronto.
Lukasz says she was inspired by the feeling of giving back and felt compelled to turn her experience into a youth movement that would illustrate the power of kindness.
Since the first outing, Lukasz has been using the RAK Project to support other local organizations.
She co-ordinated a food drive for the Mississauga Food Bank, sold bracelets to raise money for a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth organization called Supporting Our Youth and is currently developing a project that will benefit the Mississauga Humane Society.
Now Lukasz is looking for ideas to engage the Ryerson community in an upcoming kindness project.
“Ryerson has so many creative students and I know we can see how big their hearts are,” she said.
This project, in addition to her full-time education and part-time job, has kept 20-year-old Lukasz busy, but she is proud to be the project’s ambassador.
“You never know who this might inspire,” said Lukasz, “When I hear about how this is affecting people and see them tagging their acts of kindness on their own social media, it makes it all worth it.”
Lukasz sought help from Ryerson’s legal clinic to properly establish her project.
She received a lot of encouragement, which meant more paperwork.
Currently in the process of having her organization’s name and charity status approved, she is financing the group’s startup from her own pocket.
According to Alex Gill, a Ryerson professor who teaches courses pertaining to non-profit and voluntary sector management, the first step to establishing a non-profit organization is coming up with an innovative idea.
Gill encourages young people to take this first step, as Lukasz has done.
“There is no age limitation on good ideas to make social change happen,” he said. “We’re always in need of breakthrough ideas and we’re always in need of innovators.”
Rachael Delano, a Grade 12 student at Cawthra Park Secondary School Mississauga, Ont., recently participated in the The RAK Project by selling bracelets.
Delano says she enjoyed being actively involved in her community and was happy to support Lukasz and her startup.
“It is important for young people to do things like this because it inspires the people around them,” Delano said.
This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on March 19, 2014.