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From RAK to RAC, kids do good one kind act at a time

Above: A group of students at PoCo’s Central elementary started the Real Acts of Caring program six years ago. Top right: Students doing kind acts now at Maple Creek middle. - TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO
Above: A group of students at PoCo’s Central elementary started the Real Acts of Caring program six years ago. Top right: Students doing kind acts now at Maple Creek middle.
— image credit: TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

They are an army for goodness — groups of students carrying out acts of kindness and brightening the days of Tri-City seniors, adults and young people just to show they care.

It has been six years, since RAC — formerly Random Acts of Kindness now Real Acts of Caring — spread like wildfire in School District 43, resulting in thousands of cookies, candies and flowers, cups of tea and toys for shelter animals being given away.

And Harriette Chang, whose Central elementary school students got the movement started with letters to Port Coquitlam council in 2005, is amazed at how RAC has grown.

“I can’t believe how contagious this has been,” said Chang, who said students are now doing kind acts all year, not just during RAC week in February.

In the years since it began, RAC has spread to other SD43 elementary schools as well as middle schools and high schools, and may soon spread to the Surrey school district.

The students have received a lot of media coverage because of RAC, including television appearances and stories in the local papers. They will be on TV again Feb. 17 and have been making the rounds of school board and local city councils to promote RAC. In 2009, the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce’s Newsmaker of the Year award (sponsored by The Tri-City News) was given to RAC students for their good works.

Chang said the buy-in from local teachers, students and parents has been inspirational and students are coming up with a lot of different ways to be kind to others.

At Pitt River middle school, a dozen girls cut their hair last June and donated it to be made into wigs for cancer patients; Maple Creek students have been having tea and lunch with residents of Dufferin Care Centre.

It’s probably urban legend by now how the Maple Creek kids raised money and used some of it to buy drinks for people at a local Starbucks. When people behind them saw what happened, Chang said, they started buying each other Starbucks drinks.

“It was amazing,” Chang said. “Our kids triggered that.”

Being good isn’t their only motivation, Chang said, noting the students get something from RAC, too. “Once they realize how good it feels, they just want to keep doing it.”

Now some high school students want RAC to go community-wide. A Group of Grade 9 girls, among the original crop of Central students who started RAC, called on SD43 trustees to support a service day next February.

“We want RAC to be a normal part of everyone’s lives,” said students Cassandra Stepian, Charmaine Cheng, and Fiona Lee during the presentation (Nicole Dziarmaga was ill but was also part of the lobbying group).

This year, RAC week will be held from Feb. 13 to 20 and a poster is being circulated throughout SD43 schools to promote it.

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

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