Every year, St. Albert Kinsmen and Kinettes spread joy and a sense of unity throughout the community as part of Kin Canada’s Day of KINdness. This year they celebrated it on Saturday, Feb. 18.
On Saturday, the two service organizations gave away $16,000 in grocery gift cards and 150 free admission coupons to Servus Place’s pool, skating rinks and fitness centre.
They handed out grocery cards at four locations: FreshCo, Save-On-Foods, Safeway and Independent Grocers. Shoppers responses varied depending on an individual’s circumstances.
“Everybody really appreciated them. Some people were sad. They’d lost their jobs but were grateful for the gesture,” said Kinsmen organizer Russ Bridge. “Some people were tearing up. Others gave the card back and said, ‘Give this to someone else. I can afford my groceries.’ And others handed them to the checkout clerk to give to the food bank.”
The grocery gift card giveaways took place at store entrances and virtually everyone the Gazette spoke to initially believed they were being tapped for a donation. Others were slightly suspicious of the service organizations’ motives.
St. Albert resident Erin Rennick, who dropped by FreshCo to pick up coffee while her son was playing hockey said, “I’m a little ashamed of myself for thinking there was a catch, but I appreciate this.”
Greg Schell, also a St. Albert resident, didn’t know what to expect when approached with a free card.
“It was a great surprise. With all the things going on in the world, it was nice to see kindness, especially going into a grocery store and you see the higher prices. This has inspired me to pay it forward,” said Schell, a property assessor.
For retiree Juleann Hammond, the card was “unexpected and delightful.”
“If everyone made a little effort at kindness, it would certainly uplift people’s mood. It could be such a special thing to someone, especially shut-ins. Just call someone. You both benefit,” Hammond said.
However, the pleasure of giving was not strictly one-sided. Genevieve Delisle, a four-year member of the Kinettes who handed out cards said, “I love doing this. I love to see the surprised expression on people’s faces when they realize it’s not a scam. People are always so super appreciative.”
Known to friends as Jenny, Delisle recalls running after a young mother who at first refused a grocery card, but whose young child was later heard crying in the aisles.
“I went up to her and said, ‘excuse me,’ and gave her a card. She needed it. People are suffering. Everything is so expensive, and so tight and they need cheering up.”
This is the third year Kinsmen and Kinettes have handed out cards and coupons to spread cheer and lighten families’ financial loads.