By Jen Jabas, director of the United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties

Think of the last time you entered a building with a large group of people. Did someone hold the door for you? Was it you who held the door open? Now try to recall what happened next. Did someone else open the second set of doors or did someone take your place and hold the door for the next group of people coming through?

A simple act of kindness is contagious and can create a chain reaction. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture; it can be helping someone carry their groceries, picking up trash on the ground, buying a cup of coffee for a co-worker, or sending a text to a friend to let them know you are thinking of them. Sometimes we are so busy trying to get from A to B we don’t even realize how a simple act of kindness can change someone’s day for the better and positively impact our community.

I have observed kindness in so many ways; a friendly greeting, a listening ear, a helping hand, and the list goes on and on. I encourage you to look for these examples and challenge you to seek opportunities to spread kindness with just one small act.

United Acts of Kindness Week is November 15-19, 2021. United Ways across the state of Minnesota are dedicated to promoting kindness, generosity, and love through acts of kindness toward friends, neighbors, and strangers alike. I’d like to invite you to participate in United Acts of Kindness week. For five days, do at least one random act of kindness, big or small, every day. I guarantee that it won't go unnoticed, and it will put a smile on someone’s face and spread throughout our community!

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The details are simple:

1. LIVE IT – Perform an act of kindness each day.

2. SHARE IT – Share your story, photo or video and tag United Way @UnitedWayDouglasPope.

3. SPREAD IT – Tell your friends and encourage them to keep the kindness going all year long!

Here are a few opportunities to get you started:

Coat collection. Donate a coat or winter wear item such as hats, warm gloves, mittens, scarves, snow pants and boots to United Way by Oct. 15. All sizes are needed. Coats for children, men and plus sizes are in short supply. Please ensure items are warm, washed and have working zippers.

Holiday gifts. Sponsor a child or children through United Way’s Holiday Gift Program beginning on Nov. 15. This program connects a community member who needs help purchasing gifts for their children with another community member who would like to sponsor them and shop for their gifts. This program serves Douglas and Pope County residents with children ages 0-18.

Kindness cards. Request Kindness Cards from United Way to distribute as you perform acts of kindness throughout United Acts of Kindness week. Pass this card along with an act of kindness and add a personal note if you would like. You can download and print your own at www.uwdp.org

Speed volunteering. Complete a speed volunteering project with your family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers. Download and print a project worksheet with a community need to fulfill then return it to United Way. United Way will connect your finished kits with people in Douglas and Pope Counties who need them. Speed volunteering projects are available at https://uwdp.org/get-involved/volunteer/

Follow us on Facebook November 15-19 during United Acts of Kindness week for ideas!

Want to do more:

  • Volunteer at a food drop in either Douglas or Pope Counties

  • Check out our community volunteer site and get connected with a local nonprofit at http://uwdp.galaxydigital.com/

  • Contact United Way to learn more about how to continue caring for our community at 320-834-7800 or e-mail Jen Jabas at jjabas@uwdp.org

United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person. We’ve seen incredible things happen when friends and neighbors support one another!

What will you do to start a chain reaction?

Jen Jabas is the director of the United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties. “In the Know” is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.