Greeting cards that are found at the gratitude lounge. (Selena SIngh)

Greeting cards that are found at the gratitude lounge for #RUKind initiative. (Selena Singh) (Card artwork courtesy With Love Compassion Cards)

In honour of World Kindness Day on Nov.13, Ryerson Student Life wrapped up their #RUKind campaign on Nov.18 which included 5 days of prize giveaways to students along with on campus activities to inspire kindness.

The campaign began in 2014 through a social media campaign as a way to celebrate World Kindness day, where students were encouraged to share their stories of kindness online. Ryerson Student Life and Student Life Programs expanded it this year by bringing it on campus to engage students face-to-face.

RU Student Life says they wanted to spread kindness by helping students get groceries, winter clothes, campus gear, transit passes and school supplies.

Andrew Bisnauth, Ryerson Student Life Programs orientation and events specialist says that the initiative has gotten a great response from students this year because of the excitement around getting free things and the idea that there is something they can take part in to make themselves and the people around them happy.

“We decided to take the initiative beyond the means of social media because you only have a certain reach on that platform,” says Bisnauth. “Being on campus, you get to interact with more students in person to create more awareness.”

(Courtesy RU Student Life)

Bisnauth says #RUKind is also great for this time of year because it can help students cope with things they might be going through from exams and their personal lives. With a simple gesture like free hot chocolate, or an appreciation card from someone who cares about them, the initiative was created to remind students that a little kindness goes a long way.

From sponsorships and partnerships, Ryerson Student Life has been able to give away $2000 worth in gift card value to 18 winners that submitted a kindness story on social media.

Parnell says that this year, they feel like they were able to help students on a bigger scale with gifts like $100 to Metro for groceries, $150 for a month worth of transit passes and $100 to Best Buy for school supplies. These gifts all make a huge impact on any student’s life and Parnell hopes they’ll use a small piece of their gifts to pay the kindness forward. Each year, we hope to grow it more and more.

“You’ll notice that in 2014, our team used what we had in the way of video talent and small giveaways like a free coffee and notes to spread kindness,” said Bailey Parnell, the digital marketing specialist for Ryerson Student Life. “In 2015, it grew a little more to include dinners, headphones and more.”

They have set up on campus twice during the initiative, both inside the library building and outside on Gould Street. They also set up a food and toy drive on campus and the #RUKind Xchange, where students could exchange old books and items for ones they didn’t have.

Food drive and #RUKind Xchange table. (Courtesy Selena Singh)

Food drive for the RSU Good Food Room and #RUKind Xchange table. (Selena Singh)

The interactive part of the initiative also involved giving away free hot chocolate and getting students to pay it forward. There was a ‘gratitude lounge’ set up on Gould Street one day and in the library building the next day. The lounge had couches and greeting cards for people to take, write something kind on it and either give it to someone they care about or simply leave in the lounge for people to read.

Gratitude lounge where students can fill out greeting cards to give away. (Courtesy Selena Singh)

The gratitude lounge where students can fill out greeting cards to give away. (Selena Singh)

“Through this we are trying to foster a sense of community on campus, and trying to make the world a better place,” says Bisnauth.

Some kindness stories from winners:

On Snapchat, Sherina said:

“I’m a first year student living in res and I noticed a lot of people were stressing about having their first midterm, so I wrote out inspirational quotes and messages on sticky notes and woke up at 5 am on a Monday morning to put them on everyone’s doors! I didn’t tell anyone it was me because I wanted to stay anonymous an just let people feel happy and inspired by the notes.”

On Facebook, Maryam Idroos said:

“Sometimes it’s not just about yourselves, it’s about anyone but you. I was speed walking on campus one day, rushing to class to find a lost old lady desperately trying to find an address. I pointed her in the right direction by walking with her even though I knew I was going to be late. Two days later, I met her on campus near the engineering building. She thanked me for helping her find the address I helped walk her to. Moral of the story- a little goes a very long way!”


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