Spreading kindness, caring

Random acts: Public invited to help emergency shelter Aug. 29.

Big hearts: Michelle Eddy

Big hearts: Michelle Eddy

Thoughts of how tough Christmas can be for some families led Michelle Eddy to create a group in Salmon Arm that’s all about giving.

Two years ago, Eddy created the Random Acts of Kindness –Salmon Arm group on Facebook.

Its mission?

“The intent of this group is to give kindness to others in our community and inspire each other to pay it forward with other random and not-so-random acts of kindness,” states the website. “It is also a place to make a donation… to help each other in times of need, to create a sense of community, and, if nothing else, maybe earn some good karma.”

About 460 people now belong to the group, which has been helping out in the community in a variety of ways.

“One of the rules of the group is everything has to be offered for free,” she explains. “It’s not a buy and sell… ”

Eddy notes there are all kinds of limits and barriers to how people can access the resources of the community, so she does what she can to help.

About a year-and-a- half ago, a young man  posted that he was wondering if anyone had any bread or milk.

“I private messaged him and got a little bit more information. He was in his early twenties, struggling. Any young 20-year-old looking for bread and milk is obviously in need,” Eddy remarks.

That interaction led to collecting donations, including gift cards, that filled the trunk of her vehicle for him.

She adds that she’s always cautious as she doesn’t want members of the group to feel taken advantage of.

More recently, after reading an article in the Observer about the need for food and supplies at Salmon Arm’s women’s emergency shelter, Eddy put out the call.

“I posted a ‘hey, who wants to get together and do a donation on my Facebook group?”

The response was amazing, she says.

“I was really overwhelmed, actually. We filled up the whole back of my truck. It was a phenomenal response I ended up getting.”

She let the women’s shelter know she would be coming with the donations, “but at that point they had no idea how much stuff. When we came with the truck full, they said ‘wow!’… They were overwhelmed, we were overwhelmed…”

Sara Inskip, crisis intervention support worker at the emergency shelter, said it was “absolutely amazing” to see the community come together with the donations.

On the heels of that success, the Random Acts of Kindness group has launched a similar plan.

Eddy will be looking to fill her truck once again for the emergency shelter, but this time with thought to upcoming school days and mothers with children.

On Thursday, Aug. 29, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Eddy’s ‘Big Blue Truck’ will be parked at a central location still to be announced, where people can bring donations.

Items needed include: • cereal – hot and cold, • baking supplies, • juice boxes, • granola bars, • fruit snacks, • crackers, • cookies, • sandwich fillings such as peanut butter, jam, cheese, tuna, deli meat, • condiments such as mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup salad dressings, • pantry staples such as oil, vinegar, spices sauces, • canned fruit, • dried fruit, • sandwich bags, • reusable lunch bags, • pancake mix, • syrup, • bread for freezing, and • meats for meals or for the freezer.

Eddy hopes that more people will continue to take part in the projects of the ‘random acts’ group. The last time the group collected donations for the shelter, probably about a dozen or so people participated, she said.

“My idea is the more numbers we have, the more sharing and giving can go around. Think what 450 can accomplish.”