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Pay It ForwardAmanda Bain recently decided to anonymously pay for a stranger’s haircut. Her random act of kindness, she said, left her feeling energized.

“Doing little things for others, whether you know them or not, brings happiness to the lives of everyone involved,” said Bain, who works in Lifelong Learning and Community Engagement at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. She also is involved with CivilityWorks, a grassroots effort to strengthen and enhance every aspect of working, studying and interacting with UW Oshkosh.

“I will definitely do something again for a stranger,” Bain said.

Lucky for Bain, she—and other UW Oshkosh campus community members—will have a chance to reach out and do something nice for another during the upcoming Random Acts of Kindness Week Feb. 11-17, which is being promoted by CivilityWorks.

Held annually, the week is spearheaded by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, which aims to “help everyone create a better world by spreading awareness and increasing engagement in kind actions.” The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is a resource for people, including educators, committed to spreading kindness.

“CivilityWorks is participating in National Random Acts of Kindness Week to provide a reminder to the campus community that a small act can ignite happiness in a person,” said Rae Ann Wetzel, University employee and CivilityWorks member.

This is the first year UW Oshkosh will participate in the official week. The week will formally kick-off  with the showing of Pay it Forward, which will air in Sage Hall 3235 at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 7. Soda and popcorn will be served.

Throughout the week, students, faculty and staff are, of course, encouraged to display a random act of kindness. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation recommends smiling at strangers, purchasing something for someone anonymously,  treating co-workers or neighbors, donating time to a local charity among other things as ways to act kind.

“Each of us can learn more when we take actions to positively impact others and help build a strong and caring community,” said Tom Grogan, special assistant to the Chancellor who is deeply involved with CivilityWorks. “I believe that the fundamental commitment to civility that is being practiced both by CivilityWorks and the Oshkosh Civility Project can be renewed and refreshed by embracing this and helping others.”

Leading up to and during Random Acts of Kindness Week, a donation drive for the Day By Day Warming Shelter in Oshkosh will be held. Campus community members will have the opportunity to pay it forward by helping the shelter, which is in need of various items including hand warmers, fruit cups, juice boxes, peanut butter, coffee and  tea; items can be dropped off in various places around campus including Reeve 105E, the Arts and Communication lobby, Dempsey 315, Sage Hall 3003 and in the Polk Library lobby. The Day By Day Warming Shelter provides temporary shelter for those who have no other sheltering options in Oshkosh.

“I think the idea of this week is civility in action,” Bain said.

Grogan agrees.

“When people pay attention to others, they can help build a stronger and more just community,” Grogan said. “Random acts of kindness—whether as a concept or as a practice—helps to underscore this. When we reach out to serve others—anonymously and randomly—we can help enliven and restore the community spirit. We believe we can help build a stronger campus community and a stronger community here in Oshkosh.”

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