USU alum's program encourages good deeds
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 11, 2013 12:10
USU students and community members will participate in the Unexpected Kindness Blitz on Oct. 7, a social campaign to do a random act of kindness for strangers.
The blitz is the brainchild of recent USU alumnus Braden Thompson, who graduated with a degree in marketing.
Thompson developed the hashtag #365aware, a social media-driven project that encourages participants to meet someone new everyday for a year. He said he created a Tumblr page for the project where people can share their experiences.
Thompson, who now lives in Roy, said the campaign was a random idea that originally started as a personal challenge. In May, he made a note to himself to start meeting a new person every day but said he kept postponing officially starting.
“It took me a while to convince myself and get to the point where I was comfortable getting uncomfortable,” Thompson said. “It kind of got pushed back. Then in September, I just decided I was going to do it, so I wrote a blog post. People started sharing it and it took off.”
Now nearly a month into #365Aware, Thompson said he is surprised by the support. He estimated more than 30 people have talked to him about people they met, and said about 90 of the Twitter followers for #365Aware are USU students.
“I knew that if I was doing it and talking about it, people would join in, but I didn’t expect this many people would think it was cool and want to do it,” Thompson said.
Thompson said the Unexpected Kindness Blitz was born to give #365Aware supporters additional tangible ways to serve others.
“As soon as this started gaining momentum, I knew I needed to act, because these people are active and ready to do something right now,” Thompson said. “I didn’t want it to die like just another Internet fad.”
“I realized being aware wasn’t necessarily about talking to a stranger,” he said. “If you could influence a stranger, it didn’t need to be a vocal exchange. So I thought, ‘Why don’t I create something where everyone commits to do it all at one time?’”
Thompson used the website Thunderclap to promote the blitz. People can register on Thunderclap to participate in the blitz, and if Thompson’s goal of 100 supporters is met before Oct. 7, the website will automatically send out a message the day of the event to thousands of Facebook and Twitter users. Thompson also created cards that participants can leave behind to encourage recipients to pay forward the kindness, he said.
“Hopefully it will have a viral effect,” Thompson said. “It creates curiosity and people will look into it.”