By: Alyson Peabody, Staff Writer
“Random snacks of kindness” have been passed out to USM students over the past few weeks. This is part of an effort by the Service-Learning & Volunteering office to spread kindness on campus.
The Service-Learning and Volunteer office at USM received its official title in the fall of the 2017-2018 school year after they separated from Community Engagement and Career Development. To re-establish themselves under their new title, they launched a promotion called “Random Snacks of Kindness.”
The idea started with Sarah Chang, a member of the Service Learning and Volunteer program at USM, a STEM Partnership coordinator and an active member of AmeriCorps VISTA. Chang drew inspiration for Random Snacks of Kindness from an arts incubator called Artworks in Cincinnati. Artworks charged $10 per snack, and 100 percent of the proceeds were donated to local non-profit organizations that focused on the arts.
This inspired Chang, and she brought the idea to the Service-Learning and Volunteering office at USM. She felt that a subtle and more personalized message would have a lasting impact at USM rather than a single-day event.
Knowing that exam weeks can be particularly stressful for students, the department began offering snacks, from cheese crackers to granola bars, to give students an extra boost of motivation.
Their goal was to get their name out there and spread a little kindness, but it has grown into something larger. The program was so well received by the USM community during the 2017-2018 academic year that Random Snacks of Kindness is back for the 2018-2019 academic year.
Last year, the office distributed over 600 snacks. This year they have increased their efforts to more than 750 in total. Some professors have even allowed members of the Service Learning and Volunteering office to speak for five minutes at the beginning of a class about the intention of the snacks before everyone in the class receives something to munch on.
Chang said that they try to be spontaneous about the distribution of the snacks to stay true to the name, but that students can always stop by the Service-Learning and Volunteering office at 004 Payson-Smith Hall on the Portland campus. Their hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Students can enter the office space to share a snack and have a discussion about service-learning and volunteer opportunities. Chang hopes that students see the program as what it is, a random act of kindness and that they are inspired to share that with others.
“We do see more and more small acts of kindness emerging out of students, staff and faculty,” said Chang. “We’re happy to be a part of it in our unique way.”