The KU Chabad House, a student led Jewish organization, started the campaign, “Random Acts of Goodness and Kindness,” in light of the recent Las Vegas and Lawrence shootings.
The idea of the campaign is that “good cards” will be distributed throughout Lawrence and these cards incentivize people who receive them to bestow an act of kindness to someone else in turn. Once the good deed is done, the person is to pass on the card to the next person, enacting a chain of acts of kindness throughout the community.
“On Monday three students called me and said that they’re not going to class because they felt afraid and vulnerable and it didn’t help that the whole conceal and carry is going on around campus,” said Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel, cofounder of the Chabad House.
Tiechtel said that the idea for the campaign was put together by himself and some of the students who are part of the organization and were shaken and affected by the shootings.
“A group of students came up with the idea and we discussed it in our leadership and had some students help design the cards,” Tiechtel said.
Abby Chargo, a junior from Minnesota and a member of the leadership board at the Chabad House, said that the Chabad House is “a home away from home” for Jewish students.
“The Rabbi is always there whenever you need him. I’ll always call him for advice,” Chargo said.
The cards are the size of a business card and on the back of them they have instructions on what the cardholder should do within 10 minutes before they pass the card on to the recipient of the good deed. They can also share their story on Twitter with #kindnessinyourhands.
However Tiechtel said that he doesn’t want to have the act to be motivated by the Twitter aspect of it.
“We don’t push that too much because we want a genuine act of kindness not an act that is motivated by the hashtag. We want people to do it for the sake of kindness,” Tiechtel said.
Tiechtel has shared the cards with other religious organizations around campus and he said that the good thing about this campaign is that it’s universal.
“There’s nothing Jewish, Christian, or Muslim about it. It’s just kindness,” said Tiechtel.
Joel Gutovitz, a junior from Overland Park and the president of the Chabad House, said that the cards are a good coping mechanism for people going through grief.
“The best way for friends to overcome hard times is to focus on the people around them and to help other people. By seeing the happiness you can evoke in someone else, you can really turn your own life around,” Gutovitz said.
Evan Fruhauf, a junior from Wichita and the social programming intern at the Chabad House, said that he thought the cards were a great idea for students on campus.
“I think it’s a great idea because as a student you don’t see as much kindness as you’re kind of self involved and focusing on your own ability, but these cards force you to reach out to other people and get involved in the community and help people,” Fruhauf said.
Tiechtel said that the goal of the campaign is to hand out 5,000 cards around campus and Lawrence.
“We want it to become a fad on campus. Our goal is that when you’re walking around campus someone will ask you if you have a good card or you’re sitting in class and the person next to you hands you one,” Tiechtel said.
“If these cards can change one person’s life for the good and get someone to do one act of kindness it’s a success, but obviously the goal is on a much greater scale than that. We want to positively impact as many as possible, but any positive impact is a success,” Gutovitz said.
Chargo said that so far the campaign has been doing well. According to Tiechtel, the campaign started two weeks ago and most cards have been handed out after fall break.
“It’s a huge success and has impacted a lot of people. There has been some really good feedback for the campaign and it’s been touching for people,” said Chargo.
Cards will be available at various locations around campus and at the Chabad House located on 1201 West 19th St.