We’ve all heard inspiring stories where a friend, family member, or even a complete stranger does something to help someone else out. Oftentimes we only hear about grand gestures, but I find that the smallest of acts of kindness have the biggest impact. This is something I can certainly attest to.

When I was in college, I was like any other student - FRUGAL! Ramen noodles and Kraft Dinner made up most of my lunches and dinners for two years (I’m not much a breakfast person, but if I were, they probably would have been my go-to for that as well). But once in a while I would treat myself, kind of a like a random act of kindness to myself. On one of these “treat” days, I went to the grocery store and picked up all makings for spaghetti and meatballs, and some dessert (Oreo ice cream sandwiches – please note this is an acceptable gift if you’re looking to treat me to something special…).

Well, as I placed everything on the belt to be rung through, the gentleman in front me of asked the cashier to ring up my groceries along with his so he could foot the bill. I was completely taken aback; I had never experienced this kind of kindness and generosity from a stranger. That was 16 years ago and, like the quote goes, “they may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel”.

I will always remember how that made me feel. Now, I love nothing more than paying it forward with random acts of kindness. Not only does it brighten somebody else’s day, but it brightens mine as well, especially these days.

One thing I love about working at Aquatera is that we live our Core Purpose of Growing Healthy Communities and are always looking for ways to give back. We are avid sponsors and supporters within the communities we serve. Some of my favourite ways we give back include:

  • The Bottle Donation Program – Every month, a non-profit organization within our service region is selected as the recipient of this program. In partnership with Recycle Plus we accept bottles and cans specifically for the purpose of giving back to our community. Deadline to apply is March 15. Learn more and apply at https://www.aquatera.ca/community/bottledonationprogram.
  • The Litter Pickup Program – Each year, Aquatera will sponsor $1,500.00 to local groups in exchange for doing on-site litter pickup at our Landfill, along Highway 40, the Correction Line and Resources Road. Learn more and apply at https://www.aquatera.ca/community/litter-pickup-program.
  • Employee Matching Program - Through an employee sponsorship matching program, we encourage employees to give back to the community, and Aquatera will match the qualified donation up to $100. In 2021, our employees donated $3,695 in which Aquatera matched for a total contribution of $7,390.

It’s no secret that the last two years have been a challenge and struggle for many. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, the disruptions to our social fabric, and the toll this situation has taken on our mental health, we could all use a little more kindness. Whether you’re looking to show kindness to friends and family, or a stranger, here are a few small ideas with a big impact:

Random Acts of Kindness for People You Know

  • Bake Someone Treats: Baking is a therapeutic hobby for me. I love to bake cupcakes and cookies and surprise my friends, family, and colleagues with a special treat from the heart.
  • Help a Neighbour: In the summer, mow your neighbour’s lawn after you’re finished yours. In the winter, shovel your neighbour’s driveway when you’ve finished yours. I have the best neighbour – always willing to lend me a hand in the yard. In return, he gets some of those cupcakes and cookies!
  • Positive Affirmations: Write something positive on a sticky note or in a card and leave it on someone’s desk, put it in your kids’ lunch box, or put it in a common area for everyone to see. I used to write simple sentiments such as “You Are Awesome” or “The World Wouldn’t Be the Same Without You” and leave them on people’s desks to guarantee they would have a positive experience that day. It’s an easy way to spread some love!

Random Acts of Kindness for Strangers

  • Give Someone a Compliment: Everyone needs a confidence boost once in a while! If you pass by a stranger and like their hair or outfit, let them know! If you’re at a restaurant and your food is delicious, pass your compliments on to the chef! A compliment is a small gesture that can go a long way.
  • Buy Someone’s Coffee: If you’re in the drive-thru getting your morning coffee, pay for the person behind you. I have paid for someone’s coffee and have had my coffee paid for by a stranger, and there is no better way to start your day!
  • Smile at Someone, Just Because: Studies show that smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match! Scientists also say it’s contagious. So, smile and pass it on!

With Random Acts of Kindness Week upon us (February 13-19), I want to remind you that there is room for Kindness each and every day. There are so many easy ways we can spread the kindness bug! Starting small allows us to work these things into our daily life, which in turn will help make the world a kinder and happier place.