Calgary

Spreading kindness in Forest Lawn, group hopes to create new holiday tradition

People in the Forest Lawn area of southeast Calgary are hoping to create a new annual tradition involving random acts of kindness — whether it be a hug, a gift, or even just a smile.

Community volunteers hit the streets on Saturday, handing out gifts, smiles and hugs

Shauna Parks, the executive director of Sunrise Community Link, said the organizers of the Pay It Foward day hope to make it an annual event. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

People in the Forest Lawn area of southeast Calgary are hoping to create a new annual tradition involving random acts of kindness — whether it be a hug, a gift, or even just a smile. 

Volunteers spread out over the area on Saturday for the first Pay It Forward event.

"We want to take the opportunity to spread love and kindness because there's actually amazing programs, there's amazing services, there's amazing people, community members that live here," said Shauna Parks, the executive director of Sunrise Community Link, which helped organize the day.

'It's very uplifting for me'

The day was made possible thanks to donated gifts from sponsors — including grocery gift cards and toys — and funding from the United Way. 

Jamy-lee Demers, a single mother of two who lives in the area, said she jumped at the opportunity to volunteer. 

"I love this today, it's very uplifting for me. To give back is fabulous," she said. 

Demers made more than one trip out in the cold to approach strangers, and she said the reaction was varied, at least at first. 

"They're shocked and sometimes they think we're selling them something."

Organizers plan to make the pay it forward day an annual holiday tradition. 

With files from Terri Trembath