With the tragedies of the Las Vegas and downtown Lawrence shootings still weighing heavily on the University of Kansas campus, KU’s Chabad House launched a campaign for positivity about three weeks ago that’s still going strong.
“People are still shaken by those events, and we are trying to come up with a way to maybe channel that fear into action,” said Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel, who has helped Chabad students spearhead the communitywide “Random Acts of Goodness and Kindness” campaign.
Here’s how it works: Scattered around Lawrence and the KU campus are “good cards” meant to inspire good deeds from whoever stumbles across them. If you find one of the tiny cards printed in KU colors, you have exactly 10 minutes to engage in an act of kindness before passing the card (each comes with a short set of instructions) along to the next person.
Folks can also share their stories on social media with the hashtag #kindnessinyourhands. Tiechtel, however, said the campaign isn’t about generating “likes.” He wants people to discover the joy of doing good for goodness' sake.
“It’s not just the act of kindness that’s effective, but it’s also the fact that it empowers the students who are holding that card to feel like now they have a mandate and are part of the solution,” Tiechtel said.
The death of three young people along Massachusetts Streets, the main “hangout” spot for so many KU students, weighed especially heavy on Tiechtel’s congregation at the Chabad House, KU’s “home away from home” for Jewish students.
But, he says, the response to the “good card” campaign over the last few weeks has been “incredible,” with student groups from across campus, as well as local businesses and community organizations, wanting to help distribute cards.
“We event got a call from Wichita,” Tiechtel said.
“People are very excited about it,” he said. “People are looking for light. People are looking for love.”
At first, Tiechtel and the students only printed 500 cards, not knowing how their campaign would be received. They’ve since printed an additional 1,000, followed by a batch of 2,000. Tiechtel expects they’ll run out soon, if the current trend keeps up.
Chabad House is now looking for sponsors to help cover printing costs, Tiechtel said, as the congregation only has the budget for relatively small orders.
“Our initial goal is to hit 5,000,” Tiechtel said. “Five thousand cards out there means 5,000 acts of kindness. That’s a lot of light.”
Those interested in donating to the campaign or having their own stack of cards to distribute are encouraged to contact the Chabad House by phone at 832-8672, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the “Chabad at KU” Facebook page.
The center is located at 1203 W. 19th St.