La Presse (Montreal's No 1 Paper)

http://www.cyberpresse.ca/international/europe/200912/31/01-935264-offensive-bonte-a-londres.php

(David Goodfellow and James Hunters, two of the co-founders of TKO, “It’s a great way to meet people and it’s more rewarding than staying at home”, says the first one.)

(London) To provide tons of food for poor people, to offer thousands of hampers for Christmas : is that a job for charities? Not for three young Londoners with a big heart, whose work has been recognized by the Mayor of the London. Armed solely with a phone and an unshakable will, the TKO trio have fulfilled the wishes, big and small, of thousands of people.

Young Londoners are trying to spread a new virus in the streets of London: The Kindness Offensive. Their bottom line? “Be very kind, it’s cool!”

Everything began on a beautiful summers day, in August 2008. Three flat-mates, David Goodfellow, Benny Crane and James Hunter started to hail people in a park with a somewhat strange question.

“What can we do for you?” they asked astonished people passing by.

The answers? Chocolates for a grandmother. An electric guitar for a boy. A birthday party for a little girl.

The good Samaritans got to work. After several refusals, companies answered the call. The granny got her truffles, the boy his Yamaha guitar. The little girl celebrated her 11th birthday with the Moscow Circus acrobats!

“The Kindness Offensive” was born.

“It had a snowball effect. It’s a real treat to give. It’s a great way to meet people and more rewarding than staying at home”, says the 30 year old David Goodfellow, to La Presse.

Nothing is done in halves with them. In October 2008, they gave away 25 tons of non-perishable foods to 14 refugees centers, compliments of General Mills. After a phone call to the food giant, an 18 wheeler truck parked by their house, leaving the neighborhood bewildered.

Contagious Kindness

Since then, their great feats keep adding up. They, for instance, gave away 500,000 pancakes last February. Videos of their good deeds got millions of hits on Youtube.

Their efforts have been noticed and appreciated. “I had tears in my eyes last Christmas”, says Robert Williams, a Canadian volunteer. “They were giving away hampers to everyone in the streets, even the street workers.”

The Mayor of London has also been seduced. “They have brought immeasurable joy to thousands of Londoners”. Said Boris Johnson, last March.

The happy group proved that kindness is indeed contagious. It is people willing to give, rather than people asking for things who knock on their door in numbers. “We’re having one to two volunteers signing up a day”, explains David Goodfellow. “They are aged 7 to 77. Companies are also contacted us. Lots of people in their offices want to do good in this world.”

2010 is looking good. “Everything we’ve done so far is a walk in park compared to what we’re preparing now”, he says. “If any multi-national companies are reading these lines, we need all the help they can provide.”

By MALI ILSE PAQUIN

Kindly Translated by Christophe Belami

 

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