What made you consider submitting an act for SAARA?

Jack Brinatte (1st place winner April 2012): We were looking for a way to raise money for our large homeless outreach event that we do every year during San Diego ComiCon, and when I saw Random Act had this going on I figured it was a risk worth taking. I thought we have a unique way of doing charity and it seemed to fit into the criteria.

Falak Sayed (2nd place winner April 2012): Because why not! AMOK was a fantastic idea, and we had a wonderful time carrying out our acts of kindness. SAARA just happened to come along, and we thought it would be nice to submit our wee act to be considered for a prize.

Heather Greider (3rd place winner April 2012): I had been working with Random Acts and doing acts of kindness before, but the idea that I could get money donated to an organization of my choice (which turned out to be Random Acts!) made me work even harder. As we kept planning it out though, it wasn’t even about the money anymore. We made a lot of people happy and in the end we knew we wanted to keep doing this no matter if we won money for an organization or not.

How did you decide what sort of act you wanted to do?

JB: This act was started a year earlier. On previous visits to San Diego I saw how desperate the homeless issue was there and it pushed me further into working with homeless people and trying to make a difference. So I figured if I could gather a whole bunch of Real Life SuperHeroes (People who take on heroic personas to do good in their community) That maybe we could bring some attention to the problem.

FS: That was easy! The opportunity presented itself. We wanted to carry out a meaningful act that could offer some well deserved help to someone who truly needed it. The recipient of our act was a teacher who taught the children of one of our professors, and was well known to her. She brought him up in passing conversation, and we jumped on the opportunity to help!

HG: I looked at my own financial situation and the area I was in and what connections I had and created a plan with my friend Amber Edwards (we had met though GISHWHES 2011). We met together in a library and wrote down a list of all our talents. She had connections at Kane Glenn Hazel Senior Center, while I worked at 2 local daycares and knew staff over at a local hospital. I was good at photography, while she had managed to gather a ton of books to donate to a local library. We created a plan, picked a date to do it, and just went for it. I believe everyone is capable of doing something, small or large. And if you can get someone to help you, even just a friend, you can accomplish so much. You just have work with your own talents.  

How did you document your act and choose what to focus on?

JB: We videotaped and photographed the event. As for focus, there is a location in Downtown San Diego that is well known for a large homeless population so we brought the supplies to that area and worked with the people.  

FS: Regarding our act, the main challenge was to garner enough funds to purchase a motorbike for our teacher in need. We decided to focus on our workplace, which is a hospital, and approached the doctors who teach us there. They were very generous and supportive of what we were doing, and very kindly contributed whatever amount they wanted. The only problem was, filming and camera use of any kind is prohibited within clinics, so we couldn’t document the money collection at all. We settled for taking a picture of handing over the amount we had collected to our recipient, and then contacted him a week later to photograph him with his brand new bike.

HG: We documented our act through photos and video, and then put it all together in a kind of video/slideshow on Youtube. We chose to focus on the acts themselves and less on people’s reactions ONLY because we were working in a senior center and a hospital, and there are privacy laws. So we mostly focused on us describing what we were doing (hopefully that gives others some ideas!) The rest of our acts were actually almost anonymous, as we left candy & cards on people’s doors and donated books, school supplies and clothes.    

How did you find the submission process?

JB: I found it very easy and painless.

FS: It was very simple and straightforward! We decided on submitting a video narrating our act of kindness in detail, with a concise summary to go with it, to Random Acts’ submission page for SAARA. As geeky as that sounds, it was effective! We simply talked about our teacher’s story, and how we went about our act, and submitted the video (which was uploaded on Youtube) along with our pictures. There may have been some very mediocre video editing involved, but if 4 technologically challenged med students can do it, anyone can!

HG: I follow Random Acts and Misha Collins as well as a variety of Random Acts staff on Twitter. I also follow the Random Acts page on Facebook. They keep things pretty up to date, which I am grateful for. I also subscribe to Random Acts on YouTube.    

What has the prize money meant to your nominated charity?

JB: We were able to help maybe 600 homeless in one day with supplies to help them get through the tough times, wish we could do something more permanent, but there was food and water and clean socks and all kinds of supplies that they wouldn’t normally have access to.

FS: We won $2000 for the charity of our choice, and decided to split the money down the middle. Half, we decided, would go to Hope To Haiti, because we love the work Random Acts has been doing for the kids of Jacmel. The other $1000 was donated to an Indian non-profit organization called “The Akanksha Foundation”, involved in the education of children from low-income families in the cities of Mumbai and Pune in India. The organization runs several schools within the slums of these cities, and currently has about 4000 children under its care. With $1000, which is about 35,000 Indian Rupees, the organization can fund several things, such as sponsor a child for an entire year, or sponsor art and craft activities in 3 schools, or even purchase library books for 7 schools! It’s a large sum of money, which we know will be put to good use, and are very grateful to Random Acts for enabling us to contribute to such a wonderful organization.

HG: Ask Random Acts! 😉 It got to them shortly before? after? the Hope to Haiti 2 project started, so I’m sure they were grateful for our prize money.    

Any advice for those considering an act for SAARA?

JB: Please take part in it if you can. It is a great resource that can help you do some amazing things for people who really need the help!

FS: We’re no one to dole out advice, but really, if you must do something, make it count. Carry out an act of kindness that can truly help someone and make their lives just a tiny bit better. Look to make a lasting impact. And aim high! Just when you think that you won’t receive the support you need, or can’t execute that idea you have, things fall into place. And most importantly, as corny as this sounds, have FUN. It’s even more fun when you can make someone smile, and win a certificate with Misha Collins congratulating you for all your trouble.

HG:  NO ACT IS EVER TOO SMALL. There is SO much to do. Gather books, clothes, raise money through a simple yard sale, a donation site, draw, paint, take photos, sing, dance, play an instrument, ask your friends and family to help. Think about all the things you are good at, and think of all the people you know who can help. A teacher, a principal, a coach? A church, an after school program, a school club? If you’re not in school, there are a lot of organizations that need your help. Red Cross, Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Club, churches, soup kitchens, senior centers and hospitals. All it takes is some simple phone calls and emails. You can always start small and develop more ideas along the way. It’s one of the greatest things you’ll ever do because even if you help one person, you are being so kind and generous to a fellow human being who otherwise may not have enjoyed such kindness.

If you have any further questions about SAARA or how to get involved with other random acts of kindness please email events@randomacts.org