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Posted on March 23, 2014 | 8:05 p.m.

Local Teacher Starts ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ Month

Franklin School third-grade teacher challenges everyone to one nice act a day in April

Source: April Random Acts of Kindness Month

Leon Lewandowski believes we can make the world a better place, one kind act a day for a month. Last year, Lewandowski challenged himself to try to do at least one Random Act of Kindness (RAoK) a day for the month of April. He posted it on Facebook, then created a page for others to join him. It was a success, and now he’s hoping to get even more to join him and his 400 members this year.

“I want this thing to grow to be the next Movember,” the Franklin School teacher said. “When people are the recipients of RAoK, their entire demeanor changes and they tend to want to pass it on to someone else.”

Lewandowski and his 9-year-old daughter last year gave out cold drinks on the side of the road on a hot Sunday. He and his wife passed out flowers to strangers on State Street. The family paid for parking at Knott’s Berry Farm for the car behind them. At the Santa Barbara Fair & Expo, they paid for kettle corn for the next people who intended to buy. They helped the homeless, mowed their neighbor’s lawns and surprised friends and co-workers with baked treats.

“The best RAoK,” Lewandowski said, “are the ones you do for strangers, for folks who don’t know you and least expect it.”

The Facebook page is an important component of the month because it gives people a place to come and get ideas, post their own RAoK, and to feel inspired to go back out and do it again the next day.

“It was March 31st of 2013, Easter Sunday,” Lewandowski recounted, “and I had gone to my local drug store to buy a few items. It was raining that day and outside the store, huddled below the overhang trying to stay dry, were three young people (late teens/early 20s), one female and two males. They had wild hair and tattoos and one of the guys had a nose piercing with what looked to be a clothes hanger dangling from his nostrils.

“As I shopped, I got to thinking about these kids. I don't know if they were homeless or not, but I do know that they were young and out in the rain on Easter Sunday instead of home with their families. I purchased three peanut butter/chocolate Easter treats and when I came out told the trio that the Easter Bunny hadn’t been able to find them this morning, so he gave me these candies to deliver to them.

“The smiles and surprised looks on their faces were unforgettable. ‘Thank you so much,’ ‘God bless you,’ were the reactions from these pierced, tattooed kids. It wasn’t much I did, but it felt good. It was unexpected and kind. I decided I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could do that each day for the next month, one Random Act of Kindness for 30 days.”

Lewandowski is hoping that April Random Acts of Kindness Month will grow and everyone will know that our Central Coast community started it, embraced it and made it what it will one day be. He’s contacted local churches, is doing a month-long project with his students and has even asked Ellen DeGeneres to participate.

“Anyone can be kind for 30 days,” Lewandowski said. “When you do, it changes your outlook in your fellow human the other 11 months of the year. It feels good to make others feel good.”

To participate, click here to ask to join the Facebook group.

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