By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Twitter: @DinwiddieMonitr
Posted: November 22, 2018 | 12:30 p.m.
DINWIDDIE – At Dinwiddie High School, a new exciting club already has more than 100 members! These members are dedicated to promoting kindness through small and large acts of service at their school and throughout their individual communities.
English teacher Kymberly Knisley came up with the idea to form the Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Club at the end of the last school year. Knisley shared the idea with several of her research and writing classes. Several students expressed interest, and Knisley decided to try out a test run activity over the summer to determine if there would be continued interest, and above all, participation.
Knisley said that about 10 to 15 students initially indicated that they would be interested in the club. These students kept in touch with Knisley over the summer. She began a RAK group message. Knisley suggested that perhaps the group’s first project should be, School Supplies for Success. School Supplies for Success involved the RAK Club students partnering with the Dinwiddie County Christmas Sharing Foundation, to organize and assemble school supply bags before the start of the 2018 school year. When Knisley asked the students if they were interested, about 10 of them jumped at the opportunity to help the community organization.
Dinwiddie High School’s Random Acts of Kindness Club members smile for the camera, much in the same way their actions create smiles within their school and in the community. (DHS)
“I really became emotional about the great turnout,” said Knisley. “The students and I had food, we enjoyed our time together assembling the bags, and it was so much fun that it didn’t even feel like work. I think that’s the beauty of the club. It doesn’t have to feel like work. It needs to be fun. When you are helping others, it is both fun and rewarding. The school supply drive is what really gave me the confidence that the club was going to be a success.”
Knisley didn’t know it then, but her club of 15 students would soon grow to have 104 members. As the start of the school year began, Dinwiddie high school students of all grade levels, backgrounds, and grade point averages (GPA), signed up for the new club.
“When I first began introducing the club, one way I really promoted it was to say that the club isn’t a club that wants to know your GPA,” said Knisley. “This is a club that wants to know everything else you are involved in. There is nothing wrong with those clubs; they are great. Every club has its own purpose, and our purpose is that we want to cater to anyone who wants to join. There is no cutoff date to join. Just join whenever you can.”
“I said this in a good way, but I really wasn’t ready for that type of response,” Knisley said. “I was humbled, and I was excited, but I sort of felt like, what do I do now? When I started the club, I would have been happy with 20 members, and I was just floored when I had over 100 students sign up.”
The DHS RAK Club is now equipped with a large group of students eager to make a difference. The RAK Club holds weekly meetings, where they brainstorm and generate ideas for activities that will spread kindness on school grounds and in the community. Activities and projects are not just limited to those major things that are planned and coordinated ahead of time—such as the school supplies project. The RAK Club’s mission is a daily one. Students are encouraged to engage with people and other students that they don’t know, compliment people, speak kindly, and offer help when it is needed.
Just during this past week, RAK members prepared scrumptious parfaits, made-to-order, for faculty members, in honor of American Education Week. On Tuesday, November 13, National Kindness Day, RAK members distributed candy at random, and gave compliments and candy throughout the school, particularly to individuals they didn’t even know. During the lunch break, RAK members set up a thank you note station. They gave candy to anyone and everyone that would take a thank you card and write a short note on it to anyone that had helped them. The more thank you cards individuals filled out, the more candy they received. By the end of lunch, all the thank you cards were filled out! The RAK club has many upcoming projects. Right now, they are concentrating on the Christmas season. They want to make the holidays bright and special for anyone in need.
Helping others, showing care and concern, listening, and performing random acts of kindness, sounds like an amazing way to initiate positive change. Perhaps all of us can learn from the wonderful example of this teacher and her young students. Imagine the impact and difference in our lives, if this positive movement caught on, and was brought into our homes, our communities, and our world.