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Club ‘bringing kindness back’ to campus

College students know all too well about bad days and sleepless nights. No more home-cooked meals or mommy’s comforting reassurances that everything is going to be okay.

Luckily for UM students, there is one non-profit student organization, Random Acts of Kindness, that aims to help students have a better day.

Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) began as a worldwide organization in 1995 to help promote kindness and compassion throughout the world. Its members work to ensure that kindness is not obsolete and to make the world a better place.

Junior Adrienne DiTommaso, the president of RAK, said that the organization was founded in 2006 at the University of Miami “to spread kindness and a sense of unity within the university community.”

“Our goal is to do the little things that make people smile and laugh,” she said.

Members of RAK can be found on campus giving away free hugs and flowers. Of course, not all of their kind gestures are taken with enthusiasm.

“You get really weird looks when you’re giving away free hugs,” said Kelsey Pitta, a sophomore and the group’s treasurer and secretary. “After you give them the hug, you can really tell it makes their day just a little better.”

Adiel Hoch, a junior, was a victim of RAK’s “free hug,” but did not mind the gesture.

“I thought it was really cool how there are people out there who can let their guard down and just take it as their mission to be nice to people. It really made my day,” Hoch said.

About one month ago, RAK members were seen on US1 near Stanford Drive and Ponce de Leon Boulevard with signs that read “Honk 4 Kindness” and “Smile.”

“We got honks from everyone from police officers to the Metrorail,” DiTommaso said.

The event turned out to be a great one in RAK history.

“We even got the Metrorail to completely stop and honk. That is when we knew we did our job,” said Kemy Joseph, a junior and the vice president of RAK.

RAK also has an annual event every April called “Hug the Lake.” About 500 people hold hands and gather around Lake Osceola. It’s one of their most popular events.

“During Hug the Lake, people write a wish on little orange construction flags and the next day their wishes are all around the lake for people to read and enjoy,” Joseph said.

The most anticipated event of the semester is the Peace and Love concert taking place on Nov. 21 in the School of Communication courtyard.

The concert will be two hours long and student performers will be singing songs about peace and love.

“All of our events are free!  You will never have to buy a ticket or give us anything in exchange for an activity we hold. That’s part of our mission statement,” DiTommaso said.

The number of RAK members has increased from seven in 2006 to 45 active members today.

“I am really proud of my club,” DiTommaso said. “it’s been a privilege to watch it grow from something that people just thought was cute, to an organization that’s getting respect across campus.”

This semester RAK is taking things up a notch, with the first Peace and Love concert and many other events the organization has never hosted before.

“We are constantly trying to figure out new ways to spread kindness,” Joseph said, “Right now, we are working on a drum circle recycling drive that we are really looking forward to.”

Joseph also mentions that RAK is universal and promotes kindness to everyone, regardless of race or religion,

“It can bring people together, no matter who you are or what you may believe,” Joseph said.

Joseph and other members of RAK take advice from Justin Timberlake. But instead of “bringing sexy back,” they’re “bringing kindness back” to the world.

If you feel like RAK is something you want to be a part of you can contact RAK by e-mail at umrakmail@yahoo.com or stop by their biweekly meetings on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in UC ballroom D.

“The only thing we will teach you to do is how to become a professional hugger,” Joseph said.

WHAT: Random Acts of Kindness, a registered student organization that began in 2006 at UM, is dedicated to spreading kindness and happiness around the university community and the world.

WHO: Adrienne DiTommaso, junior and president of RAK; Kemy Joseph, junior and vice president of RAK, Kelsey Pitta, sophomore and treasurer/secretary of RAK

Number of members: 45

TOP THREE EVENTS THIS SEMESTER:

1) Peace and Love Concert: 11/21 in the School of Communication Courtyard from 8 to 10 p.m., promoting peace and love

2) Laser Light Show: 12/05 in the UC from 8 to 10 p.m., to promote kindness and unity.

3) Hug the Lake: Occurs in April on earth day at Lake Osceola in the early afternoon, promotes unity and kindness.

November 12, 2008

Reporters

Jackie Smith

Contributing News Writer


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