St. Charles volunteers commit Random Acts of Kindness

Small gestures can have a big affect, organizers say

Random Acts Matter volunteer Sharon LeGare (left) hands an orange rose to Emily Prevost in St. Charles as part of Random Acts of Kindness Week on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024.

St. Charles residents spread a little extra love last week, volunteering to perform good deeds around the community as part of Random Acts of Kindness Week, presented by Random Acts Matter.

Random Acts Matter is a nonprofit organization founded in St. Charles in 2016 that believes no act of kindness is too small. The organization benefits the St. Charles School District 303 community.

This was the seventh year of the Random Acts of Kindness Week initiative, which is a localized effort that was modeled around the nationally celebrated Random Acts of Kindness Day, which was Feb. 17 this year.

The initiative is not limited to volunteers within the organization. Every year, RAM invites St. Charles schools, churches, sports teams and businesses to participate, whether they want to help with RAM’s scheduled events or spread kindness in their own way.

RAM Board President Michelle Buck said the weeklong event this year was the best yet.

“Our volunteers and the community shared kindness in so many creative ways,” Buck said. “They sent a ripple of kindness through the world and who knows how far that can go.”

Local volunteers spread care and compassion every day from Feb. 12 to 18. Anyone could nominate a community member to receive a random act of kindness through the RAM website and teams of volunteers worked to fulfill requests.

Buck said the organization was founded in a challenging time when there was a lot of anger in the community and founder Jim Di Ciaula felt the community could benefit from intentional acts of kindness and compassion.

“He founded the organization with a small group of people with the sole purpose of sharing kindness, care and compassion,” Buck said. “So we’ve been doing that ever since.”

Volunteers on Feb. 12 distributed chocolate bars with inspirational quotes, gift bags of candies and warm cups of coffee to random people around down.

On Feb. 13, volunteers decorated rocks with messages of kindness and inspiration and left them in random places for others to find. RAM volunteers also assembled and distributed treat bags to first responders.

They introduced a new project this year called Kindness On The Go. Treat bags and small gifts were donated to community members working on the go such as mail carriers, delivery drivers, sanitation workers and snowplow drivers.

In honor of Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14, volunteers handed out roses around town and several downtown businesses participated by doing something special for their patrons.

The Feb. 15 acts of kindness included giving baked goods to many community organizations including the St. Charles Fire Department and Lazarus House and at the Municipal building. RAM also collected and donated food items to benefit local veterans.

On Feb. 16, volunteers crafted and delivered cards and notes of kindness to local senior centers. Many other community members participated by putting a card in a senior neighbor’s mailbox.

Over the weekend, RAM provided a warm breakfast for Lazarus House residents Feb. 17 and handed out treats to strangers in local parks Feb. 18.

Acts of kindness that weren’t targeted to specific recipients were distributed randomly to community members around town.

Buck said the beauty of doing random acts of kindness is one never knows much how a small gesture can impact someone. She said they often receive letters after the week is over with stories of how much it meant to people who received a random act when they were going through a tough time in their life.

“A lot of what we do, we don’t know the ripple effect it has,” Buck said. “Kindness is powerful.”

Now that the week is over, community members still can help perform random acts of kindness by making a donation or nominating a recipient on RAM’s website.