by MICHAEL OTTO
AUCKLAND — If you are in east Auckland in the next few months, you might be the surprised recipient of a random act of kindness from a Baradene College student.
And if Baradene head girl Maddie Little’s plans come to fruition, students from the school will be performing random acts of kindness for years into the future.
Inspired by a leadership course she attended, Maddie, 18, set up a “Kindness Club” at Baradene. On the course, she was prompted to do this by Jimi Hunt, who co-founded the Live More Awesome charity that aims to help people beat depression.
So Maddie announced the formation of the club at a school assembly in early September.
“I said, I’m making this Kindness Club, and I’d really like there to be more members than just myself.”
The attendance at the first meeting amazed her.
“There was the most crazy turnout. We were packing into a classroom; there were people out the doors,” she said.
Maddie, who helps run the St Michael’s parish youth group in Remuera, already had an activity planned to get the club up and running. The day after the first meeting, dozens of girls started making cards for children at Starship Children’s Health.
Since then, the Baradene students have given out donated ice blocks at decile 1 St Pius X School in Glen Innes and at Orakei Kindergarten, have given out homemade lemonade to girls coming out of their final mock exams, have donated blood (for those aged over 16) and have given out free cards and daffodils to people in Remuera township.
A smaller group went to the Caughey Preston Hospital and sang for residents, following this up by spending time with them. Many parents who signed permission slips for the girls to do this expressed their appreciation, saying, “What a lovely thing to do”.
“It was nice to have that affirmation,” Maddie said.
Clare Wade, from Auckland diocese’s Catholic Caring Foundation, has been helping Maddie with planning for the Kindness Club.
A goal is to encourage students to do random acts of kindness by themselves — which students have started doing. A Facebook page has been set up where students can post photos of their kindly acts and this has rapidly attracted 150 members.
“Girls are always commenting, ‘This made my day’,” Maddie said.
“We hope that we become a bit more selfless as a result of this,” she said, adding that Kindness Club members are encouraged to reflect on and pray about their experiences.
Next year, Maddie is going spend six months in Malawi in Africa with Latitude Global Volunteering. It won’t be her first overseas volunteer experience, having been to India last summer with a St Peter’s College and Marist Sister’s College group. In India, she worked at a primary school for street kids and at one of Mother Teresa’s homes.
When she resumes her studies, Maddie hopes to study arts and law.
But her biggest challenge at the moment is to try to ensure that the Kindness Club carries on at Baradene after she has left. She hopes to find current years 11 and 12 leaders who will take up this commitment.
by MICHAEL OTTO