Random acts of kindness brighten up one’s day

Anjali Ashok, Features Editor

Whether it be a small gesture like holding a door for a stranger or a large gesture like making a sizable clothing or toy donation, random acts of kindness are sprinkled throughout everyday life. Many occur naturally, but some students regularly display their kindness, contributing to a more positive community.

Creating an impact in her community by showing kindness to the underprivileged around her, junior Anika Umaselvan bakes once a month for Bailey’s Homeless Shelter in Falls Church. Starting in seventh grade, she has continued this tradition as an opportunity to give back.

“I grew up having the last Sunday of every month being a day where we all helped out in the kitchen so that we could take trays of food to the shelter later in the day,” Umaselvan said. “Even though what I do is very small, I really enjoy baking and I love that someone out there who really needs it has access to something delicious and that I can connect with them and even bring them some kind of joy and nutrition.”

Students can also merge their academic passions with ways to give back to their community by engaging in activities that also enhance their learning. Volunteering at a local health clinic, reading to underprivileged children at the library and other opportunities can serve the purpose of being helpful and educational. 

Taking a different approach to giving back, senior Saran Muthuraman regularly volunteers at the Sri Venkateswara Lotus Temple by making food for other Hindu devotees in the canteen. 

“I go and volunteer about four times a month by cutting vegetables for the adults who would cook, and also sometimes working at the cash register taking orders from customers,” Muthuraman said. “I would meet my friends and talk to some adults who would work there in the temple with some priests stopping by to help us out.”

Engaging with one’s own religion and culture is a common way to create a change within a personalized community while strengthening relationships. According to Head to Health, finding activities connecting to culture can have a positive impact on one’s sense of identity and could in turn improve mental health. 

“These acts of kindness are important to me because it makes me significantly closer to my culture by learning the roots of my religion and Indian cuisine,” Muthuraman said. “Volunteering with my friends is another reason why this act is important to me because it creates a bonding teamwork experience that isn’t available at school or a basketball court.”

Opportunities to give back directly to the school community are encouraged by clubs like Key Club and Feeding Chantilly. Junior Riva Murali contributes to the CHS community by regularly volunteering and helping organize activities and games to encourage the value of friendship as the social media manager of the club, Best Buddies. 

“As a board member, we figure out ways to bond with the buddies and give them a chance to socialize and make some new friends,” Murali said. “It’s an extremely fun way to support our community because we get to build relationships with others through collaborative activities and are able to make new friends while doing so. It also makes me feel as if I am making a direct impact on our Chantilly school community since I am able to collaborate with my peers and those around me.”

As planned acts of kindness are often difficult to come by, opportunities like Random Acts of Kindness Day are offered to show quick and small acts of love. Taking place on Feb. 17,  it is a day to celebrate and encourage loving acts. Quick ways to take part in this celebration include saying thank you to a bus driver, helping an elderly person with their groceries and sharing a snack with a friend. Even committing one act of kindness could brighten up a day or put a smile on someone’s face.

“I believe it’s important to do these small acts of kindness because they really ground me as sometimes people tend to really get caught up in day to day issues and we forget about taking care of other people and bigger issues in our world,” Umaselvan said. “Overall, I have learned from this experience that one of the most important things we can do is to give back to our community and take advantage of the opportunities and blessings we have to help others.”