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Paying it forward

WL resident celebrates birthday with 41 acts of kindness

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - After a chance encounter at the mall, April Krubel decided to complete 41 acts of kindness for her 41st birthday. April Krubel was shopping at Washington Square one day late last year when she was approached by a woman she didn’t recognize.

The woman handed Krubel a Starbucks gift card and a rose, then said “It’s my sister’s 50th birthday, and I just wanted to give you these.”

Krubel was floored by the gesture, and it fit perfectly with her favorite motto: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” With her 41st birthday approaching in April, Krubel vowed to spend the day completing 41 random acts of kindness around the West Linn community she called home.

The resulting effort proved to be a roaring success, as Krubel and some of her closest friends and family members gathered April 12 to spread their kindness as far as possible. From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., they did everything from paying off layaways at K-Mart to handing out bubbles in the park, dropping off “blessings bags” for the homeless in Portland and dishing out lottery tickets to random passers-by.

It was an eye-opening experience for Krubel, and she plans to make it an annual tradition.

“I’ve had a lot of great parties — really great parties,” Krubel said. “But you reach a certain age and you want to change. This is the best way that I can do that, and I still get to be with all my friends and family.”

Save for a few donations to a pregnancy resource center and food bank, Krubel and her group of volunteers completed each act of kindness over a whirlwind eight-hour span.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Krubel sees charity as a great way to connect with people, and will complete acts of kindness as an annual birthday tradition moving forward.

“My very, very favorite was standing at the 15 items or less at WinCo and just going back and forth to people saying ‘I’d like to pay your groceries,’” Krubel said. “We did that for about half an hour.”

Krubel said she was “blown away” by the support she found in the community after announcing her project on Facebook, and saw donations come in from a variety of community members and local businesses.

“It was like (the folk story) ‘Stone Soup,’ where everyone puts a little in and it makes this great thing,” Krubel said.

For Krubel, charity is less about what is given than who is giving and receiving. “I think it’s a great way to spend time with other people,” Krubel said. “It’s always been important to me that I teach my children to pay it forward, to give to others, that we’re all family. All of us are part of one race — we’re all the human race, and we all should take care of one another without judgment.”

In some cases, the receivers were taken aback and even a bit reticent in the face of such random kindness.

“A lot of people were surprised by the kindness,” Krubel said. “Which is kind of sad, that we’re surprised by people being kind to us.”

Krubel hopes her message and cause will spread, and was heartened when she found out recently that a high school student in Tigard was planning a fundraiser to emulate Krubel’s work.

“So it’s really cool to hear that kind of stuff, because that’s how the snowball effect starts to happen,” Krubel said. “And I have a lot of people who are excited to join me next year who weren’t able to this year.”

By Patrick Malee
503-636-1281 ex
email: pmalee@westlinntidings.com
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by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Krubel was blown away by the community's support for her project.


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