By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
A statewide organization is aiming to bring smiles to the faces of people around the state.
Mandy Fabel, executive director of the nonprofit organization Kindness Wyoming said her group works throughout the year to share kindness around the state — with a special emphasis on the week of Valentine’s Day.
“In 2017, we launched the first efforts around Random Acts of Kindness week,” she said. “And we’ve been doing some focus efforts on Random Acts of Kindness week every year, which is right around Valentine’s Day.”
According to Fabel, 22,000 Wyoming students, 2,000 Wyoming workers and 100 Wyoming families all signed up with Kindness Wyoming to embrace Random Acts of Kindness Week from Feb. 13-19.
With support from The Caring Foundation of Blue Cross Blue Shield and Jonah Bank, the nonprofit was able to send out nearly 500 kits, she said, to be utilized by over 25,000 residents of Wyoming.
Fabel said each year the group sends out “Kindness Kits” to schools around the state to encourage people to spread good will to others.
Each kit includes a variety of activities and challenges to be completed during Random Acts of Kindness Week. Families and students can also complete their challenges to be entered into a drawing for a gift card to be donated for yet another act of kindness.
Each kit is slightly different, Fabel told Cowboy State Daily. Some sent to schools include a classroom “bingo” card including 25 squares that all list some act of kindness to be completed. For every completed task, a square is marked off.
“And then there are school kits that include a giant 3-foot by 4-foot poster with 307 acts of kindness (playing off of the Wyoming 307 area code), and some of the squares are filled in with ideas and some are blank, so students can write their own idea in the box and then mark it off,” Fabel said. “And then they also got stickers and kindness prints that they could put up in their classroom as well. And then for those who complete the bingo cards, they’ll get to be entered in a raffle for some gift cards that they could then use for another act of kindness.”
For some students at Cody High School, ‘Kindness Week’ means a little bit more.
Brooke Davidson, faculty sponsor for the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA), said for students in the group, “kindness” is the rule.
“The group is all about inclusion and making people feel accepted for who they are,” she said, pointing out that the group has made a tradition of hanging up hearts with messages on them around Valentine’s Day, prior to students arriving at school.
“It’s just a way to help people enjoy the day, especially knowing that you know, Valentine’s Day can be very fun for some people depending on their situation — and it can also be a little hard for some people, depending on their situation,” she said. “And so the idea is that everybody gets a chance to have some nice words said to them or to smile for some reason throughout the day.”
Cody High School junior Rey Bakewell said the GSA club is a safe place for many students, where kindness and acceptance are the focus.
“Having a place to be, where you can just be who you are — like, everyone there just accepts you no matter what,” Bakewell said.
“Especially with student mental health, it’s good to have support around you at all times,” added senior Delaney Farmer.
The GSA Club marked Kindness Week by spreading random notes of support around the school, including some of the items from the “Kindness Kits” sent to schools by the Kindness Wyoming organization.
“Just, be love. Just love in general,” Bakewell said. “Because I feel like everyone doesn’t get to experience that on Valentine’s Day, and they deserve it.”