Anything but Random: RAK Week Is a Labor of Love

Anything but Random: RAK Week Is a Labor of Love
Kris Light

Let’s address the elephant in the room right away: There isn’t much that is random about Random Acts of Kindness Week, or what is more commonly called RAK Week on campus at Brewster. The five-day affair, fast becoming a Brewster tradition, is the product of lengthy planning and collaboration on the part of students, faculty, and staff. The goal: deliver to the community a full week of opportunities and offerings that center on showing appreciation and gratitude for all that each person contributes to the Brewster experience. A week so full of kind gestures that the effects will be lasting, and inspire a culture of kindness to continue onward through to the end of the school year and beyond. 

Again, anything but random.

The effort is the brainchild of Maria Found, Brewster’s Director of Community Service and Math faculty member, though she is quick to share the credit with the students of the RAK Club who lead the way in thinking up activities, managing the logistics, and promoting the undertaking prior to and throughout the week. “I love brainstorming with students on ideas and set up. I am most proud of the students who show up to help make this week impactful and the faculty and staff who are so supportive to help in any way.” With a nod to the logistics involved in a full week of programming, Mrs. Found added, “The orchestration of a workforce of students to show up and run the events is a big deal. Making sure the student leaders are supported and feel informed to oversee the many events is crucial.” 

While the work to prepare is complicated, the message is intended to be anything but. “This week is a celebration of ways we can have a positive influence in each other's lives, to instill kindness, and to show appreciation for others,” Mrs. Found shared. “I love everything about how this week pushes the envelope on understanding how simple it is to perform a Random Act of Kindness, and the feeling you get from doing it is moving.”

So what does a Random Act of Kindness Week look like in practice? The answer is a lot of things, and something different every day. The RAK Club shares a full schedule of events with the school in advance of the week to get community members excited, each day outfitted with morning, lunchtime, and evening surprises, all complemented by four opportunities for people to flex their kindness muscles that run throughout the week. 

On the docket are a multitude of ways to share shout outs and participate in games designed to inspire and teach the language of kindness (and also win a few choice prizes). As an example, RAK Kindness Bingo appears to be just a regular bingo game, but phrases in all the squares are random acts of kindness. Speaking to the intention of the planning, Mrs. Found said, “It generates ideas for kids throughout the week to do RAKs because it seeded thoughts early in the week.”

Well represented on the calendar is an acknowledgement that food has the unmatched power to give people a boost. RAK club member Zoe Hausler ’23 shares, “I love how people are really able to put themselves in other people’s shoes to think about what would bring a smile to their face. For example, we do a lot of food-based acts of kindness because that is a universal way to make people's day.” You can share your appreciation for someone by giving a Cafe Kudos and prepaying a Palmer Cafe treat for them. Enjoy a “Kindness Is Cool'' snow cone from the pop-up booth at lunch on Thursday. New this year is the seasonally appropriate Valentines Day Secret Rose fundraiser, which gives anyone the chance to give the eponymous edible flower to another who then has the option to discover the gifter by making a $2 donation to Save the Children, an organization that helps give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn, and protection from harm.

The week is now a staple of the winter trimester, intentionally scheduled at a time of year when the weather is cold, and it feels a far distance from the holiday break, exactly the time when everyone can use a little reminder of our ability to uplift one another. Beginning in 2016 and now in its seventh iteration, RAK Week brings some fond memories of the creativity and happy accidents shared early on for Mrs. Found, who notes that the effort has built on the work of the previous year. “It has become more intentional and we really try to have each event be a nod to promoting kindness,” she says. 

“From what I have seen and heard of from the past years, it has changed for the better,” RAK member and sophomore Alexis D’Angelo says. “I think there are more events that people can get involved with. With some of these we are trying new things and have better plans for the years to come.”

This year the program has continued to grow, working in tandem with other clubs and organizations on and off campus. In addition to the work with the Save the Children club and organization, the RAK Club partnered with Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD) to send more than 200 electronic Valentines from Brewster students to young patients under care. Hausler, who aims to go into child advocacy, founded the CHaD effort and says, “This always makes me feel so good. I hope that our community keeps on spreading positivity, not only to Brewster but to Wolfeboro—and just feels a sense of gratitude for every opportunity and resource we are given here.”

Of course, it is about much more than one week of kindness. It’s about the long-term impact of small actions, and helping inspire people to see that they can make a difference in the lives of others with their small actions every day. “My hope is that this community sees the value in doing something nice for one another on campus and in the greater community,” Mrs. Found says. “Simply thanking one another more often, being intentional in making sure someone knows you appreciate them, taking the time to acknowledge the little things, bringing the community together to celebrate each other... these will help boost happiness, foster camaraderie, encourage people to repeat good deeds, and spur groups to work with each other to create robust programming. Take the time to say ‘I see you’ and acknowledge all the good that happens every day on this campus.”

And though this week was an incredible labor of love on the part of Mrs. Found and her RAK Club students, the ironic takeaway is that it needn’t be so involved to keep the effort going. D’Angelo sums it up, “One thing I hope the Brewster community takes away from this is that simple acts of kindness can go a long way, and it’s very easy to do without doing all the games and activities.”

Thank you to all the Brewster students, faculty, and staff—too many to name individually—for this remarkable effort in service to kindness, and for inspiring us all to live with a little more appreciation of the people around us. 


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