By Johnny Jackson
An effort to raise "kindness awareness" is being rejuvenated this month as local volunteers are attempting to recruit citizens to perform deeds of kindness.
"In these hard times, everybody just needs to remember to be kind and tolerant, and try to help each other," said volunteer, Kit Welch, of Henry County.
Welch has become the face of the local campaign that recognizes The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation's annual World Kindness Week, to be observed this year, Nov. 8-14. The global, week-long observance is designed to remind people of the positive effects of kindness.
Welch said the observance symbolizes the impression left on others by her son, Hunter Welch, who died in 2004 at the age of 12. Her son had lived with Prader-Willie Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder affecting childhood development, but managed to exude a gleeful kindness to those he came in contact with, she added.
"He was always concerned about other people," said Welch. "He loved to help the little children in the church."
Hunter's death, she explained, is what inspired her and others to campaign and spread awareness of the benefits of kind actions.
"We started it in 2004, in the memory of Hunter," said Welch, who said that Friday would have been her son's birthday. "Every morning I read a kindness devotional to Hunter before he went to school, and when we lost him, everyone in the community was kind to us. So, we encourage people to do something kind, and ask that person to 'pass it on.'"
A group of Welch's friends and neighbors have been spreading the word about various activities and charities they can take part in to fulfill the kind-acts objectives of the non-profit known as The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.
Welch said volunteers will be hosting a blanket collection drive for the needy, starting Monday, and lasting through mid-December. She said new or gently used, clean blankets can be left at any public library in Henry County, and will be given to the McDonough-based non-profit collaborative, Connecting Henry, Inc., for distribution in the organization's Community Christmas Program.
Debbie Withers, a Welch family friend and volunteer in the local "kindness works" campaign, provided suggestions for community activities available to area residents, in recognition of World Kindness Week.
She said residents can help provide for the needs of various agencies and charities in the area, including: the Henry County Department of Family and Children Services; Henry County Senior Services; the Henry County Humane Society; Haven House; A Friends House, and the Helping in His Name Ministries Food Pantry.
Other kindness ideas are available online, at www.actsofkindness.org, or -- for more opportunities to help -- visit Connecting Henry, Inc., at www.connectinghenry.org.