On Oct. 24, Ventura Mayor Cheryl Heitmann launched the One Million Acts of Kindness campaign in tandem with a multitude of events leading to the 150th anniversary of the city of Ventura next April. The campaign calls on Ventura residents to be kind and then share stories and photos on various social media platforms. Facebook users have already contributed quite a few, which include an officer helping tie a young boy’s shoe, Surf Rider volunteers who picked up trash off the beach, Ventura County Credit Union members and staff who donated to Ribbons of Life Breast Cancer Foundation, volunteers who donated farmers market produce to those in need, a woman praising a driver who waved back at her in gratitude for allowing the driver to move into her lane, and several more. The acts of kindness span the gamut, from small random gestures to organized events, all of them worthy of acknowledgement and sometimes praise. But with the holiday season on the horizon and the spirit of giving in the air, we feel that being kind could be taken a step further. We suggest you get out of your comfort zone.
While we think being kind should be naturally instilled in people of a civilized society, too often we see that it’s not an innate quality. For instance, a pedestrian is standing at a crosswalk where it is optional for a driver to stop, such as the crosswalk along Harbor Boulevard in Ventura. There, countless drivers cruise by without giving a thought to the pedestrians’ needs, lost in their own world. Every now and again, however, one driver will stop to let a pedestrian go by. On one particular occasion, when that occurred, another driver behind the one who stopped began honking his horn. Is it really that hard to have a little patience and endure some mild inconvenience to be kind? To some, it is. For those who fall into that category, those who can’t be bothered to be kind, we ask you to rethink your approach to life. Being kind is simple and it’s one of the greatest aspects of humanity and the conscious mind. We hope you take this opportunity to think of others first and inconvenience yourself just a little at this time of year.
While such rudeness is rare, like the driver who can’t be bothered to stop for a pedestrian, many feel the compulsion to be kind and just do it, as if ignoring that compulsion would be worse. Kindness can include opening doors for others, allowing others to go ahead in lines, expressing gratitude to others for being nice, etc. There are many more such acts, and for those, we are thankful for that natural desire to care for others. But we ask you to use that compulsion to do random acts of kindness and to take it a step further, if you haven’t already. What is your passion? Find an organization that fits, and volunteer for a special event or help out once a month or even help raise money for it. Ventura County United Way actually categorizes volunteer activities by interest. To get involved, go to vcunitedway.org.
Now here is the kicker. There are those who are not only naturally kind, but they have charities to which they routinely give time or money or both. This is a really great thing. These people understand how being kind is its own reward. But many have not ventured out of their comfort zones. Some will donate time to their kids’ school via the Parent Teacher Association, volunteer time for their kids’ sports teams, do annual beach cleanups or work at soup kitchens once a month or during the holiday season. That’s all amazing and the world needs more people like them. But we call on even those people to try something different, something they have never done before, such as walking dogs at the shelter, taking the homeless to lunch or mentoring children through the Boys & Girls Club or Big Brothers Big Sisters.
We stand behind Heitmann and the city of Ventura as residents report their acts of kindness. But we suggest that we all take it a step further and get out of our comfort zones, whatever stage of giving and being nice we are at. For our New Year’s Eve issue, we will feature stories of those who got out of their comfort zones to give back this holiday season. We hope to hear about your next level of kindness.
To be considered for our New Year’s Eve article, send your stories of kindness to firstname.lastname@example.org.