Written by Hayley Krolik
Kindness is natural human virtue, so seniors Jessie Lwi and Amy Chen and junior Jonathan Zhang decided to create an entire club to showcase our community’s compassion: the Acts of Random Kindness (ARK) Club. They developed the idea for club at a camp, where a speaker talked about expressing love to others. This speaker specifically mentioned the ARK club from San Jose’s Independence High School as an example. As soon as Lwi and Chen heard this, they knew they had to start ARK at Gunn. While they recognized that there were already clubs that reached out on campus, they felt there was a lack of clubs that were going directly to the community to express kindness rather than expecting the community to come to them. “Personally, we felt that the small and unexpected little things can create a big difference in people’s lives and I wanted to see those gestures in what people often think of as an overly competitive school,” Zhang said.
ARK has been thriving for about two years on campus. For the past two semesters, they’ve created care packages that members pass out to people they see in the halls during finals week. This semester, they made 400 bags that consisted of goodies, such as fruit snacks and granola bars, as well as encouraging notes. Junior Yui Sasajima received one of these packages. “For me it wasn’t about the candy inside; the idea of people taking time out of their busy lives to do something for other people is what made me feel so thankful for our community,” Sasajima said. “It’s so easy to take these little things for granted but I hope we recognize how fortunate we are to be in a community where kindness is not only present but celebrated as well.” Another project ARK has taken on was teacher appreciation letters. They’ve gone through three departments so far, handwriting thank you notes to teachers for their hard work.
Despite their many accomplishments, Chen, Lwi and Zhang agree that their biggest achievement so far is the ARK hotline. This hotline is a Google form that anyone can fill out if they have someone they want to appreciate. ARK then makes a goodie bag for the person and writes them a letter. “We express how much we care and thank them for their existence,” Lwi said.
ARK’s newest project is a Kindness Scavenger Hunt that they’ll be putting on later this semester. Participants will have a kindness checklist that they must complete to their best of their ability. Items include “sweeping someone off their feet,” and “paying for the person in line behind you.” In response to the recent suicides, the club is putting an event together in a few weeks to create continued support and kindness so that compassionate atmosphere does not dissipate. “Right now so many people are looking out for each other and supporting each other actively, but that usually dies down,” Chen said.
The founders hope that this sparks a new, impactful wave of kindness across campus. “I made this club because I wanted to inspire other people to go out of their way to show kindness,” Chen said. “A lot of people say, ‘my faith in humanity is lost,’ and I was hoping we could have something more positive at school to look forward to. Instead of waiting for that positivity, we could make it happen.”
Lwi’s personal experiences inspired her to stick with ARK. While she was tackling the worst of her depression, an anonymous person sent her a package. “Someone left a bag of gifts and a ‘Frozen’ soundtrack at my doorstep with a letter and it said how much they appreciated me,” Lwi said. “From that gift, I realized how important the club is. What we do, no matter how small it is, makes a huge impact.”