It started with a simple act of kindness. Last year, Edmontonian Jennifer Banks saw on Twitter that a new mom needed something in which her baby could sleep. Banks, a mother of two, offered her five-month-old daughter’s bassinet, which she had just outgrown. That one gift made Banks believe there had to be a better way to help people in the community.
Later that week, Banks wrote a blog post asking friends and family to celebrate her upcoming birthday by doing random acts of kindness for others, rather than buying her gifts or wishing her well. Her request resulted in 115 acts of kindness, including giving to the food bank, volunteering for local charities and bringing flowers to the elderly. “It was pretty overwhelming, that something that was a bit of a whim for my birthday, ended up being as big as it did,” says Banks.
Inspired by people’s willingness to do random acts of kindness, Banks decided to start a year-long kindness initiative. Through her blog, Make Jen’s Day, Banks helps local charities in need of donations by connecting them with the public through social media. Her goal is to motivate people to be kinder to one another. “My overarching dream is for Edmonton to be known as one of the kindest cities in Canada,” says Banks.
This year, for her 37th birthday, Banks is planning a secret kindness project that will take place July 19 to 21. While she won’t reveal the details of the plan just yet, Banks is using her blog to ask 300 people to volunteer for the kindness project. Her reason for keeping this project a secret? Banks wants everyone to focus on the charitable acts, not her.
“I encounter people who think it’s self-serving or wonder why I’m talking about it if it’s a random act of kindness. I don’t have a problem sharing it, because I find it inspires people,” says Banks. “The more we do it, and the more it becomes engrained in our community, the more normal it will seem.”