Up to snow good

Gary Hawkinson takes a break while shoveling his neighbor's driveway after a brief snow shower last month in Casper. This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week in Wyoming. 

Josh Galemore, Star-Tribune

Shoveling snow, scraping windshields, paying for a coffee. Opening the door for a mom wrangling two little kids. Letting someone go in front of you in line at the grocery store.

Small random acts of kindness add up, and this week begins the second Random Acts of Kindness Week in Wyoming.

Begun in February 2017 as a Leadership Wyoming project, the effort has involved Gov. Matt Mead and schools superintendent Jillian Balow, as well as hundreds of individuals and groups.

“The acts of kindness from last year’s RAK Week surpassed our original goal of 307 acts of kindness with over 30,000 recorded acts of kindness,” said Chris Murray of Casper, president of Kindness Wyoming. “Schools, businesses and community groups from all across the state were involved.”

The governor signed a proclamation making this week Wyoming Random Acts of Kindness Week. Balow encouraged schools to find a way to integrate kindness curriculum into schools throughout the state.

“We rightfully pride ourselves in being warm people in Wyoming,” Mead said in a release. “Random Acts of Kindness will make us all better as individuals, our communities better, and our state better.”

According to randomactsofkindness.org, kindness increases oxytocin, referred to as the “love hormone,” which helps control energy, happiness, lifespan, pleasure and seratonin. Conversely, kindness decreases pain, stress, anxiety, depression and blood pressure.

“It’s kind of like weight training. We found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help,” said Dr. Ritchie Davidson of the University of Wisconsin.

A 2010 Harvard Business School survey of happiness in 136 countries found that people who are altruistic were happiest overall.

Examples of kindness posted to the movement’s Facebook page in the last year include adopting families at holiday time, rescuing elk who had fallen through the ice, selling hand-crocheted items with proceeds going to a pet rescue project in northeast Wyoming and collecting beauty products for residents of a Cheyenne safe house.

Organizers are using social media to grow the movement, asking folks who witness an act of kindness to post it at Facebook.com/kindnesswyoming and use the hashtag #kindnesswyoming.

Follow community news editor Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @WYOSAS

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Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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