BY KRISTIN SCHULTZ
SCHENECTADY — It may seem that kindness has been in short supply lately. But while spite and vitriol were readily visible elsewhere, students at Union College spent the week of Feb. 13 spreading the love both on campus and off.
For the last six years, Union College has embarked on Random Acts of Kindness Week in an effort to spread goodwill and cheer during the bleak midwinter. Every February during the week of Valentine’s Day, students who work or have worked at the college’s Kenney Community Center and many of the college’s Greek organizations plan and participate in small, fun events and hope to brighten someone’s day.
On Monday, diners at Reamer Campus Center went “fishing for compliments.” Typically a game played at a child’s birthday party, college students lowered a string tied to a stick behind the counter and pulled up a bag of goldfish crackers with an encouraging note.
“I like making people smile,” said senior Morgan Clark. “This is week seven of the term and it’s a terrible week because of all the midterms.”
Kindness took a field trip on Tuesday when Vaishally Shah and Samantha Williams spread Valentine’s Day sweetness by handing out candy bars to lunchtime diners at the City Mission Dining Center.
“This can be a hard day for people,” said associate executive director Christopher Silipigno. “We talk about care here but they are demonstrating care. It helps break down the us-versus-them mentality.”
“The people here are sweet and kind,” said Shah, a freshman at Union. “It feels good.”
“I’ve gotten a hug already,” said Williams, a junior. “The people in this community are so sweet.”
The dining center serves around 600 meals daily and Shah and Williams came ready with boxes of chocolate bars with custom-made wrappers offering messages of love and friendship.
“Union is an awesome community partner,” said Silipigno. “We appreciate the heart they have for this city.”
Now in its sixth year, Random Acts of Kindness Week is well received both by students and the community.
“The first year not many people knew it was going on,” said Janet Sweeney, associate director of community outreach. “Now a lot of people know about it and look forward to it.”
Other on-campus activities included free hot cocoa, a prize wheel and a raffle. On Friday, students planned to deliver cards and flowers to a local nursing home.
“We hope everyone feels cheered up,” said student and planner Jacqueline Sharry. “It’s nice to spread the love and kindness and unite Union and the community.”