New Din­wid­die High club pro­motes kind­ness, ser­vice

Ran­dom Acts of Kind­ness club has al­ready at­tracted 100 mem­bers

The Progress-Index Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Kelsey Re­ichen­berg Staff Writer

DIN­WID­DIE — A new club at Din­wid­die High School al­ready has more than 100 mem­bers, all ded­i­cated to pro­mot­ing kind­ness through small and large acts of ser­vice at their school and through­out the com­mu­nity.

English teacher Kym­berly Knis­ley came up with the idea to start the Ran­dom Acts of Kind­ness (RAK) Club at the

end of last school year and shared the idea with three of her re­search and writ­ing classes. Sev­eral stu­dents ex­pressed in­ter­est, and she de­cided to do a test run ac­tiv­ity over the sum­mer.

“I told ev­ery­one that I re­ally wanted to start a Ran­dom Acts of Kind­ness Club, and their re­sponse was very pos­i­tive. They said, ‘We love that idea, we’d love to do that,’” Knis­ley said. “We had about 10 or 15 that stayed in con­tact with me over the sum­mer. I started a RAK­tivist group mes­sage, and I said, ‘Hey our first ac­tiv­ity will be School Sup­plies for Suc­cess.’”

School Sup­plies for Suc­cess in­volved the RAK Club stu­dents part­ner­ing with the Din­wid­die County Christ­mas Shar­ing Foun­da­tion to or­ga­nize and assem­ble school sup­ply bags be­fore the start of school. When Knis­ley asked the stu­dents if they were in­ter­ested, about 10 jumped at the op­por­tu­nity to help the com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“I re­ally got emo­tional about the great turnout," said Knis­ley. "They were fed, we en­joyed our time to­gether, it didn’t even feel like work. And I think that’s the beauty of the club; it doesn't have to feel like work. It needs to be fun. Do­ing things for other peo­ple is fun. The school sup­ply drive is what re­ally gave me the con­fi­dence that this [club] was go­ing to work.”

Lit­tle did Knis­ley know that her club of 15 stu­dents would soon turn into 104. As the start to the school year rolled around, Din­wid­die high school­ers of all grade lev­els, back­grounds and GPAs ea­gerly signed up for the new club.

“When I in­tro­duced the club, one way I re­ally pro­moted it was this isn’t a club that wants to know your GPA. This isn’t a club that wants to know ev­ery­thing else you’re in­volved in right now. And noth­ing is wrong with those clubs; those clubs are great,” said Knis­ley. “Every club has its own pur­pose, and our pur­pose is that we want to cater to any­one who wants to join. There’s no cut­off dates to join. Just join when you can.

“I say this in a good way ... I wasn’t re­ally ready for that type of re­sponse, but I was hum­bled and I was ex­cited and I was like, what do I do now?” she added. “When I started the club, I would have been happy with 20, and I was just floored when I had over 100.”

Now equipped with a large group of stu­dents ea­ger to make a dif­fer­ence, the club holds weekly meet­ings where they gen­er­ate ideas for ac­tiv­i­ties that will spread kind­ness on school grounds and in the com­mu­nity.

So far, in ad­di­tion to part­ner­ing with the Christ­mas Shar­ing Foun­da­tion for the school sup­ply drive, RAK Club mem­bers have as­sisted with Spe­cial Olympics Bowl­ing and have cleaned up trash at school foot­ball games. They have sev­eral other ac­tiv­i­ties planned for the near fu­ture, in­clud­ing pass­ing out good­ies to teach­ers dur­ing Amer­i­can Ed­u­ca­tion Week and walk­ing dogs at the Din­wid­die An­i­mal Shel­ter. They also are work­ing to form a partnership with the Din­wid­die Ki­wa­nis Club.

“Since this is a new club, we’ve just been ar­chiv­ing all of our ideas. We have a lot of things we want to do, and we’ve been ap­proach­ing ev­ery­thing we can,” said Knis­ley. "But we’ve been do­ing pretty good so far, and we haven’t lost any mo­men­tum.”

A Din­wid­die na­tive, Knis­ley be­gan to form the idea for some­thing like the RAK Club back when she was si­mul­ta­ne­ously com­plet­ing her teach­ing de­gree and work­ing as a re­porter for the Din­wid­die Mon­i­tor. As a jour­nal­ist, she at­tended var­i­ous com­mu­nity events and no­ticed vol­un­teer groups con­sisted heav­ily of adults; there was a lack of stu­dent par­tic­i­pa­tion.

“I was the spe­cial events/fea­tures re­porter," she said. "I was very in­volved with all the lo­cal com­mu­nity events, and one thing that stuck out to me was, where are the stu­dents at? And I was very con­fused by that. I went to Re­lay for Life, I went to sev­eral dif­fer­ent func­tions in the com­mu­nity, and I was like, wow, we need more stu­dents here.

“That was part of my goal — I wanted to see more ef­fort from our stu­dents in terms of vol­un­teer­ing, and it’s no one's fault. I just thought I’m go­ing to cre­ate an op­por­tu­nity,” she added. “If you want to vol­un­teer, just join the Ran­dom Acts of Kind­ness Club and we’ll ex­tend that op­por­tu­nity to you.”

Knis­ley thor­oughly en­joyed writ­ing feel­good sto­ries, and she no­ticed her au­di­ence en­joyed read­ing them just as much. She was in­spired by her read­ers’ in­ter­est in the good and up­lift­ing things hap­pen­ing through­out the com­mu­nity.

“Peo­ple want to feel good, they want to hear about things go­ing well, so why not cater to that. Let’s cre­ate a club,” she said. “This is a big high school with so many beau­ti­ful chil­dren in this build­ing that truly want to help. They want to do some­thing to help.”

Knis­ley’s stu­dents couldn’t agree more. They do want to help, and they love be­ing able to make a dif­fer­ence in their school and com­mu­nity.

“When Ms. Knis­ley first brought up the club to us, I au­to­mat­i­cally wanted to join, be­cause I feel like all to­gether there needs to be more kind­ness in the world, said se­nior RAK Club mem­ber D.W. Lamm. “There’s a lot of greed in the world, so I feel like with all of us be­ing kind around Din­wid­die, it’ll brighten the com­mu­nity.”

“I joined be­cause Ms. Knis­ley, the en­ergy she gives off and the sup­port she shows stu­dents that aren’t even in her class, re­ally spoke to me,” added RAK Club mem­ber Xza­vier Daniels. “I de­cided to join be­cause I want to be more like Ms. Knis­ley.”

Knis­ley noted she’s been for­tu­nate to re­ceive sup­port and as­sis­tance from DHS staff, in­clud­ing English teacher Lau­ren Sa­giao, who stepped in to co-spon­sor the RAK Club.

“When Ms. Knis­ley asked me if I would be will­ing to help with the RAK Club, at first I didn’t know too much about it, and I looked it up and I thought, that’s such a great thing,” said Sa­giao. “I feel like it should be in every school, ele­men­tary, mid­dle and high. It’s just some­thing I re­ally be­lieve in.”

Prin­ci­pal Ran­dall John­son has also been tremen­dously sup­port­ive of the RAK Club.

“The RAK Club has done some re­ally good stuff to try to cre­ate a pos­i­tive at­mos­phere for the stu­dents here,” he said. “I’m re­ally pleased not only with what [Knis­ley’s] do­ing, but with what the kids are do­ing. It’s great.”


Mem­bers of Din­wid­die High School’s Ran­dom Acts of Kind­ness Club clean up trash at a foot­ball game.


Din­wid­die High School’s new Ran­dom Acts of Kind­ness Club has a mem­ber­ship of more than 100 stu­dents ded­i­cated to spread­ing kind­ness through both small and large acts of ser­vice.

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