SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Pumpkins on doorsteps, gift cards in library books and chalking up sidewalks outside of schools with good wishes on the first day of school are some ways Guerrilla Goodness is spreading intentional, anonymous acts of kindness.
These simple acts of kindness have already started popping up in Wakefield after Jo Anne Mixner started a Wakefield chapter of the national movement to make the world a better place.
One year ago Mixner, working for the Internal Revenue Service, moved from North Carolina to Wakefield. In North Carolina, she delved into philanthropic activities, heading the rotary club. When she arrived in Wakefield, Mixner wanted to lend the same community spirit she always had but she could not meet with the local rotary club because of its time conflict with her work in Providence. Then she read a story in O, The Oprah Magazine about a woman in Richmond Virginia, Patience Salgado or the Kindness Girl who through random acts of kindness hoped to change the world.
“I needed to fill my philanthropic side of me. This was what I was missing,” Mixner said. “The Kindness Girl describes different ways of spreading love and generosity. It spoke to me. I did some research and looked up her blog. On it she was forming an outset of Guerilla Goodness.”
Salgado is completely obsessed with the idea that random acts of kindness can change the world. On her blog, kindnessgirl.com, Salgado said her mission started small as her mother taught her to do someone’s dishes after a party. As she got older it was paying the toll for the car behind her, or making a meal for a new mom or maybe leaving a $20 in the street musician’s guitar case.
“Over time I realized that kindness came in all forms and I didn’t have to be rich to spread love and joy in the world. Tiny notes left in books at the library, a long conversation with an elderly man in the supermarket, a cold drink for a bum on the street, all of it energized my soul in a way nothing else did or could. There is no selfless good deed but it doesn’t really matter, the world needs it all. I have been on both ends of kindness and decided this was the work of my life. When I looked back, kindness had been calling me all along,” Salgado writes.
After Salgado did what she calls a kindness adventure in 2007 to remember a friend who passed on, Guerrilla Goodness was born with people across the nation starting local chapters, including one here in Wakefield. Guerrilla Goodness has grown more so since the Oprah Magazine story.
When Mixner saw that Salgado asked if others wanted to form other Guerrilla Goodness chapters, she contacted Salgado and started Rhode Island’s first Guerrilla Goodness chapter in Wakefield.
As part of Guerilla Goodness, members do intentional, anonymous acts of kindness performed in playful, creative ways for strangers, friends, and family. Some missions other chapters have done include leaving quarters in vending machines, leaving inspirational notes in library books or the great ding dong ditch, leaving a gift on someone’s doorstep.
In October, Mixner set out to do Wakefield’s first mission. She purchased eight pumpkins from Clarke’s Farms and wrote messages on the eight pumpkins. All across Wakefield, pumpkins started popping up at Wakefield Elementary, Main Street, Belmont Market, the Wakefield Mall, The Narragansett Times office, CVS Saint Francis of Assisi and the Wakefield Post Office.
As soon as she left the pumpkins around town, Mixner noticed she started getting more friends on Guerrilla Goodness-Wakefield’s Facebook page. Kindness Girl helps set each chapter up with their own blog and Facebook page.
It is requested that each chapter perform at least two missions per year, but Mixner hopes the Wakefield chapter will do one mission each month.
For the Wakefield chapter’s November mission, Mixner said it is based on gratitude and will reach 50 people with the help of another anonymous person. But she would not go into detail, not wanting to spoil the surprise.
“There’s no limit to kindness. The whole purpose is to spread kindness. There’s so much hate and ugliness. In one minute, you can make someone smile with just a small act. It multiplies. I want it to spread. Kindness doesn’t have to be in a vacuum,” Mixner said.
For more information, visit www.guerrillagoodness.com .