By LAURA TESTER
Pictured above: Sunny 94 visits with residents of the Lacombe Seniors Lodge
A Better World Canada’s project to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday is catching on — one kind act at a time.
Since the Community Compassion 12 project was introduced in early January, at least 13 activities of spreading good cheer have been recorded through ABW’s website.
ABW co-founder Eric Rajah thought of the project two years ago as he reflected back to when he was 13 and moving to Canada with his family.
Although Rajah was born far away in Sri Lanka, an island southeast of India, he was still aware of how Canada was perceived.
“The only thing that I remember was that it was a kind, caring and compassionate country,” said Rajah. “That was the world image of Canada and still is.”
In 1990, Rajah went on to co-found A Better World Canada that’s made a difference in the lives of countless individuals in places like Kenya, Afghanistan, Thailand and Bolivia.
Now he hopes caring acts will rise across Canada as a result of the organization’s Community Compassion 12 project.
“The best thing we can give (during this birthday) is to go back to the roots of what Canada means to so many people,” said Rajah.
While most of the recorded activities have been within Central Alberta, organizers hope Community Compassion 12 will spread across Canada.
ABW communications specialist Jacqui McCarty said she’s excited to see the response, so far.
“We’re seeing really creative ways for people to go out and help,” said McCarty.
McCarty said it’s great to hear some of the stories, including people delivering homemade baked goods.
“It really makes an impact because the people (receiving them) know that these items were made just for them,” said McCarty. “It shows love, compassion and community.”
Community Compassion 12 is simple — do one act of compassion each month as an individual, family, business, church or organization.
Ideas include visiting the elderly, joining the bone marrow registry and writing thank-you notes. Other suggestions are available through www.abwcanada.ca/portfolio/community-compassion-12.
Participants are invited to submit their acts of compassion (with photos if possible) for publication through the website, emailing compassion@abwcanada, or calling 403-782-0325. As well, #compassion12 hashtag can be used to post acts of compassion on social media.
Individuals are reporting their acts of compassion on ABW’s website, including one who plans to do 44 acts of compassion in honour of her 44th birthday. One of her ideas is to place a note in a dressing room with a gift card to that store.
Others are offering car rides to the store, helping neighbours move, and paying the rest of a single mother’s grocery bill. Often, people feel good about themselves after giving, too.
Curtis Harrington and his wife Kim and children Joanne, 15, and Jessica, 13, presented chocolates to desk and housekeeping staff after staying at an Edmonton hotel. The family from Lacombe, Alta. were glad to make the staff’s day.
“I think it’s nice to appreciate people,” said Jessica. “It will make them happy.”
Kim first thought of the idea to give chocolates and now the family intends to do a compassionate act each month and record it for ABW’s project.
Curtis applauds the Community Compassion 12 project because it makes people realize they “must be more compassionate to their fellow man.”
“We should be doing it at all times,” he added. “It would be nice to see it continue for another 150 years.”
Rajah was keen to let all Albertans know so he discussed the project with Ronald Orr, Wildrose MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka.
Orr calls it a “really cool idea” and an interesting way to celebrate Canada’s big birthday. It’s a great way to honour what it means to be Canadian, he added.
“Canada is not just a place, not just a timeline, but it’s actually about people and particularly as Canadians, we’re more concerned and caring about others,” Orr said.
He said he will promote the project on his Facebook page, as well as tell other Alberta MLAs about the worthy project.
Orr himself also wants to participate through volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and at food banks.
“I often tell people it’s about having your eyes open and then seizing opportunities when you get them because all too often, people think there’s something they can do and then they don’t do it,” said Orr. “And then they think, ‘I should have done it.’ When you see something, just act on it.”