Pay it forward in North Toronto

Random Act of Kindness Day took place in Yonge Lawrence Village last month, superheaded by the BIA

Random Act of Kindness Day took place in Yonge Lawrence Village last month, superheaded by the BIA

The spirit of giving arrived a little early this year in at least one Toronto ’hood.

Toronto Random Act of Kindness Day took place in Yonge and Lawrence Village last month.

“It was a feel-good event based on the concept of paying it forward,” said Rick O’Connor, head coordinator of the Yonge Lawrence Village Business Improvement Area. “It wasn’t any kind of retail promotion, just a way to bring everyone together. We wanted the businesses and the residents to connect under a positive light.”

The BIA spearheaded the initiative, and during the days leading up to the event issued 5,000 kindness cards to local business owners so they could pass them out to the public.

The cards encouraged residents to perform simple acts that could easily improve the lives of a friend, co-worker, classmate or stranger.

“I heard stories of people carrying groceries for each other, holding doors, and helping seniors across the road,” O’Connor said.

He said he hopes for a snowball effect — the program could expand to schools and other communities in the future.

Some other suggestions for random acts included complimenting or praising others verbally, giving directions, cooking or sharing food, donating to a charity, helping a co-worker complete a task, or cheering someone up through an email or phone call.

Ni No Wong, owner of Bayview Blossoms, recently moved her flower shop onto Yonge Street. She welcomed the Random Acts of Kindness idea.

“I think it’s just a great gesture,” Wong said. “I’ve been passing a flower along to each customers, they smile and they’re very cheerful. Even if they don’t want it, I tell them to pass the gesture on to someone else. Yonge and Lawrence should definitely promote this model for other BIAs in the city.”

Wong gave flowers on several buses and to drivers in cars that pulled over at the TTC stop outside her shop. Passerby Lisa Baker received a carnation.

“I actually wasn’t aware that it was Kindness Day,” Baker said. “I believe in karma so I like it.”

When asked how she would pay it forward, she replied: “I’m going to give the change from my coffee to the next homeless guy I see.”

Bev Don set up coffee and tea to give out to shoppers in her store, Ardith One Canadian Pottery and Gifts.

Don was instrumental in bringing kindness day to the neighbourhood. She learned of the concept from a presentation by the Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation at a conference this year.

In 2007, Kitchener-Waterloo distributed over 150,000 cards to local residents. “The idea is that everyone who gets the card, pays it forward and passes it on to someone else,” Don said. “Not only will kindness spread out onto the streets and into our neighbourhood, but we want people to receive the cards and pay it forward to friends and relatives across the city.”

About this article:

By: Tyler Edwards
Posted: Dec 22 2010 3:44 pm
Filed in: Business
Edition: Toronto