How did the SmileCard project start?
One college student was talking to another slightly older twenty-something guy about pranks that students do for rival football teams. The older guy says, "Isn't it interesting that students are motivated to do such incredible acts without getting any credit?" Such acts are fun, collective, creative, and incredibly challenging. But typically, they're not all that constructive nor do they leave anyone with a lasting "wow" feeling either. So the question followed -- why not do the same with kind acts? More friends joined in the conversation. Right then, we thought up a game of doing anonymous acts of kindness and leaving behind a "smile card" to keep the ripple going. Over the next three months, we tested out the concept. And then, we setup this anonymous website and got started.
What resources did you start with?
Not too many. One of our friends designed the card, another wrote up the content on the card, and another gathered 15 bucks to go to a local Kinkos. The guy at Kinko's, well, he found out about this and did it for free. That was September 2003 and our first box of 100 cards. We never anticipated that this concept would extend all over the world!
Is there a business plan behind any of this?
Nope. Everything here is (and always will be) a labor of love. We run this commerical-free portal with dedicated volunteers, we send weekly kindness newsletters without any agendas, we ship smile cards all over the world for free, we allow people to download, print and republish everything without any restrictions. Some people order free cards to do kind acts, some share creative ideas of compassion, some contribute stories of inspiration, some sponosor cards for others, and kindness keeps spreading.
What is the future of the project?
We just launched a new site -- our third revamp of the year -- to keep up with the increasing demand. More recently, we launched Smile Groups based on the requests we heard from smile-carders around the globe. Quite honestly, we don't really know the future; our attempt is keep doing "small acts with great love" in the present.
Is this a religious effort?
Not really. All the anonymous folks behind the scenes have their own reasons for practicing compassion; for some it might be their religious beliefs, for some it might be their spiritual cultivation, for some it might just be common sense.
How can I help?
Do something kind in your community. Join Smile Groups and make it a weekly habit. Comment on the many stories to encourage the carriers of kindness. Visit some of the sites listed on our friends page. For a complete list of way that you can get involved with the site, please check out our 'How You Can Get Involved' page.
Who are you?
We are you!
Kindness is contagious! Keep it going.
Meredith's Letter From the Post Office (May 18, 2013)
One Candle at a Time (May 14, 2013)
Found on the NYC Subway (May 11, 2013)
My Smile Deck Week (May 11, 2013)
Girl Gets Up At 5AM To Decorate Her Entire Street (May 9, 2013)
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