ARMED with smiles, balloons and confetti cannons, they have launched a charity crusade on Britain’s streets. Calling themselves The Kindness Offensive, these four ordinary blokes are determined to do good in the world.
In just over a year Londoners David Goodfellow, 30, James Hunter, 23, Benny Crane, 26, and Christian Steel, 33, have distributed 25 tons of food to the needy, 35 tons of toys to good causes and brightened up the lives of hundreds of Brits.
With the credit crunch, rising unemployment and countless other worries bearing down on the nation, the boys, who share a house in West Hampstead, decided to fight back. Their inspiration was a medical student whose name they don’t even know.
Freelance Events Organizer David read a news story about an 81-year-old called Ernest Griffiths who fell down stairs at Holborn Tube Station and hit his head. Dozens of commuters walked by before the student came to his aid.
David Says: “Unfortunately, Ernest died, but I was struck by the student’s kindness. I showed the article to the lads. We all agreed there should be an initiative to champion kindness”.
After much debate The Kindness Offensive was born and the pals were ready for there first stunt.
David says: “Our idea was to ask people in the street what we could do for them. “We wore fluorescent vest and builders hats as uniforms to give the scheme a wacky feel.”
Last August, they started cold-calling firms, asking if they could would help fulfil the requests – for no reason other than kindness.
Singer song-writer Benny says: “We were pleasantly surprised by how we got on. “We landed a Philips blender for a keen cook, Browne’s handmade chocolates for a sweet-toothed granny and a birthday party at the Moscow State Circus for a young girl and her pals. Finding a Yamaha guitar for a 13-year-old lad, Lucus Maayeh, meant the most to me. He dreamed of learning to play. When we surprised him with it at his summer youth club he was speechless.”
Next, they decided to help out charity soup kitchens.
Events Organiser James says: A nervous call was made to General Mills, the company behind Green Giant tinned veg and Haagen-Dazs ice cream. “After listening to our pitch one of the executives effectively said, ‘Leave it to me’. Within days an articulated lorry arrived outside the house. Inside there were 25 tons of food, including sweetcorn, fajitas dinner kits and cereal bars.”
Charities and hostels helped themselves and all the food went in a day. The lad were in action again at Christmas. Spreading the word via their website they found 70 volunteers to hand out food hampers to passers-by in Westminster and Camden. And 12 worthy causes, including Great Ormond Street Hospital and Save the Children received 35 tons of toys donated by i w a n t o n e of t h o s e . c o m, Razor toys and others.
The lads’ most recent challenge was the Everyday Kindness Awards, where volunteer actors mocked up scenarios around the capital featuring someone who needed a helping hand. Strangers who offered help were cheered, presented with Champagne and flowers and given a Kindness gold medal.
Benny says: “Hopefully, The Kindness Offensive will spread throughout the UK and further afield without our involvement. “Our message is ‘Be Kind’ – it cost nothing, makes you feel great and cheers people up. “Next time you get the opportunity, just give it a try.”
* See thekindnessoffensive.com.
By David Lowe, Monday, August 24, 2009