Community Guelph-Humber's great-horned owl mascot with three students, giving away a free USB stick as a random act of kindness, in the Guelph-Humber learning commons area.

Published on February 23, 2016 | by Nicole McIntyre     Photography by Nicole McIntyre

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Swoop gives away freebies for RAK week

Guelph-Humber’s mascot Swoop is walking around campus this week giving away free stuff to encourage random acts of kindness and to help improve the social environment at school.

On Feb. 22, Swoop’s assistant and first year Guelph-Humber media studies student Ryan Suknandan was handing students GH gear like pens, Frisbees and magnets, along with some USB sticks and Tim Horton’s gift cards. The giveaway will continue on campus today from 1 p.m-2 p.m.

“Swoop and I love interacting with the student body, putting ourselves out there and getting involved,” said Suknandan.

Suknandan told students they could choose anything from his bag of freebies except for the Tim Horton’s gift cards, which over the course of an hour he asked them to earn by telling their own stories of random acts of kindness.

Many students that were asked to share their stories could not think of anything, even for a free coffee. However, some examples of acts other students told the school ambassadors they did recently are pay for someone’s lunch, give up their bus transfers or help an elder lady with directions.

A similar story that was repeated amoung students involved helping the homeless. For example, giving the homeless money, food or coffee, making gloves and hats for them, getting one a free checkup at the doctor’s office and simply spending some time with them.

“Every year I buy $5 gift cards, speak with the homeless for 20 minutes and buy them lunch,” said fourth year family, community and social services student Mikka Decker.

The University of Guelph-Humber celebrates Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) week throughout the month of February.

Student life coordinator Liana Acri said RAK is a real global organization that exists and its purpose is to “spread the love.” Acri is hoping to create a positive atmosphere and increase RAK on the Guelph-Humber campus.

“It’s during second semester when people are busy and the weather is cold and dreary, so it’s nice to have something to look forward to,” she said. “We want to make sure people are enjoying themselves,” she added.

Acri said there are calendars posted in the atrium and around campus giving a suggested RAK for each day of the month. Students are encouraged to do and share the suggested RAK of the day or their own RAK by capturing a photo and posting it to social media under the hashtags #GHRAK and #payitforward.

“It doesn’t have to be anything big. Something as simple as being polite, giving someone your spot in line, holding the door for them, just going out of your way to pay it forward and cheer up someone’s day,” said Acri. “It doesn’t take much and it has a really big impact,” she added.

Acri also said RAK can extend past individuals to the community and the campus’ physical environment like picking up garbage, carpooling and creating less of an environmental footprint.

Manager of Humber sustainability Lindsay Walker said cleaning up the physical environment helps to improve the social environment at school because it creates a more pleasant space for everyone.

“The less pollution, the better the environment and we can go for walks and not see garbage on the ground. The act of not wasting is kind and the result of not wasting is kind,” said Walker.

Walker said other things students can do to be kind to the environment at school this month are to use a reusable water bottle and coffee mug, print less and use electronic documents instead.

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