We’ve all experienced random small acts of kindness; when someone in line buys your coffee or pays for your lunch at the drive-through. The idea is to create a ripple effect where the act is passed on. But what happens when a group of people gathers to spread that type of joy around an entire city? Meet Small Acts of Kindness in Winlock. This group, currently with eighteen volunteer participants, works together for an even bigger impact that can be felt all around town.

The new non-profit organization started in March of 2018, complete with officers and a board. Projects are chosen through observation of community need and/or referrals from outside the group. All projects are discussed and voted on by the board for approval.

Small Acts of Kindness uses fundraisers like the STP booth and by selling Yakima produce at the Winlock Saturday Market to raise money for their projects. Photo courtesy: Small Acts of Kindness.

Small Acts of Kindness is looking closely to see where their efforts have the biggest impact. “Since this is our first year, all projects will be evaluated for their success,” says Chris Mansfield, Treasurer. “At that time, a determination will be made whether to continue with a particular project, alter the project or discontinue the project in favor of something else.”

One of the group’s first projects was to supplement the food available through the local food bank by bringing food from The Chip Guy to distribute to approximately fifty families in Winlock weekly.

This year’s biggest event and first priority for Small Acts of Kindness is to provide Thanksgiving and Christmas meal boxes for families in need. Part of the group did this independently last year and supplies were personally paid for by some board members.

Local sponsors donated prizes and made the youth Egg Days event tons of fun. Photo courtesy: Small Acts of Kindness.

Small Acts of Kindness also sponsors youth events. This year the group hosted an event at The Stagecoach @ Walnut Street during Egg Days featuring a car show by the Seahawks themed Wheels of Boom Car Club, a DJ and every kid’s favorite activity, a gaming lounge. “Following the Egg Days youth activities, we were approached by several of the kids who participated, hoping we could sponsor similar events,” says Chris. “They were truly appreciative of having something that was geared specifically to their age group. In light of that feedback, Amy Smith, The Stagecoach @ Walnut Street owner, will attempt to host this type of event on a monthly basis.”

Small Acts of Kindness distributes and displays flags donated by Jake’s Fireworks in downtown Winlock and along Highway 505 on national holidays. This patriotic project will continue and expand as more flag poles are constructed, further beautifying this historic town.

The Winlock Egg Days Youth Event was very well received. Photo courtesy: Small Acts of Kindness.

Small Acts of Kindness provided a food booth and cooling station for bicyclists riding from Seattle to Portland for the STP. The kindness was expanded when Big Nick’s Pizza delivered pizzas for the group to distribute to riders.

The group is also committed to helping provide new socks and underwear for Our Closet is Your Closet, which provides free clothing to individuals and families in Winlock. According to Holly Orbino and RyLee Camps, donations provided by Small Acts of Kindness are a huge help to their cause. “We are a clothing bank and exchange that’s open to all who hear of us,” Holly says. “While our clothes are gently used, we only give out new socks and underwear. We are currently serving about two-hundred people per month and we hope to increase that number, making the need for donations even greater. We are having a ‘Student Only Back to School Event’ on August 30 and will need lots of socks and underwear to be able to give each kid some. Small Acts of Kindness helps us do that and we are so grateful.”

Weekly food distribution from Small Acts of Kindness helps those who aren’t able to travel receive produce from God’s Portion Ministry in Centralia. “These projects have been well received in the community,” says Chris Mansfield, Treasurer. Photo courtesy: Small Acts of Kindness.

Future acts of kindness include helping the girls’ youth sports organization at Winlock High School, a drive to collect backpacks and school supplies, and hopefully, a community picnic and pumpkin patch at Winolequa Park in the fall.

Anyone interested in becoming active with the organization is welcome to contact Small Acts of Kindness through their Facebook page, by telephone or email. Or just chat with a board member the next time you see one around town. “Winlock is a small community and most of us are well known,” says Chris. “We do have a Facebook page and we hope folks will go there to see what we’re doing now and what we hope to accomplish in the future.”

Students are also encouraged to become involved and can fulfill their community service hours by working with Small Acts of Kindness. “We are a small group with big plans,” says Chris. “Our accomplishments rely solely on the work of our volunteers. So, if anyone who has an interest in putting in some volunteer hours, we can always use the help.”

Even the smallest act of kindness can have a big impact. By sharing in acts of kindness, others are influenced to behave kindly too. This creates waves of paying it forward. Generosity is contagious.

For more information, email 4smallacts@gmail.com.

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