Thursday, 20 February 2020 13:48

Notes from the Chamber of Commerce: Leap of Kindness Day Has Global Teach in 2020

By Todd Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce | Business
Photo provided. Photo provided.

What should we do with an extra day? That’s a question that first entered my brain in 2000.

I was with the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce at that time. I had been there for five years. I had seen how much good a strong vibrant well led chamber of commerce could do for its community, its members and the local economy.

But on February 29, 2000, I sat there and wondered how the Chamber might mobilize the community to use this extra day to do something….but what?

Fast forward to 2015, I’m at the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, and I saw an opportunity to discuss this idea. 

That fall, we convened a meeting with a bunch of local leaders. People from the nonprofit sector, the for-profit sector and some local philanthropists.

We reminded them that 2016 was a Leap Year. We suggested we find a way to use this extra day for something good. I kept calling it the “extra day initiative.” 

There was interest. People liked the concept. That’s why they showed up. But what should we do or what could we ask our members and people in the community to do with their extra day. 

Bo Goliber, from Fingerpaint, at some point in the discussion, shouted out “Leap of Kindness Day.” 

Everyone said brilliant.

As the representative from GLOBALFOUNDRIES suggested, we then had to figure out how an individual by themselves or a company with 3,000 employees could both participate. 

How might we scale this idea of a Leap of Kindness Day? 

That led us to contact larger local nonprofits to see what we could do to help them. They told us. We need food, clothing, personal care items, money, etc. Setting up a collection drive was reasonably simple for our larger members and they organized drives to meet these local needs. 

Others came to us with their own ideas. Espey Manufacturing wanted to thank our US Navy Sailors with Stewart’s gift cards. The Hampton Inn and Suites, in Saratoga Springs, made breakfast for the Lake Avenue Fire Station. Polyset brought breakfast and lunch to first responders in Clifton Park. The Ballston Spa BPA collected non-skid socks for a local nursing home. 

As we started sharing #leapofkindnessday with our members and our community, other chambers of commerce took notice.

In 2016, we had 52 chambers of commerce in 30 states that asked us if they could share our Leap of Kindness Day idea with their members and communities. We said yes.

Its 2020 now. Four years later. This is another Leap Year. And so we’re again leading the effort to promote Leap of Kindness Day in Saratoga County and beyond. 

New acts of kindness have been announced. 

Customers at Curtis Lumber, for instance, have already bought more than 500 2x4s that Curtis Lumber will be donating to Habitat for Humanity on February 29. 

The Clifton Park Halfmoon Library is collecting funds from patrons for CAPTAIN Community Health Services. T-Shirt Graphics is selling hoodies for just $8 online. All purchases will be donated to the Racetrack Chaplaincy who will give these to backstretch workers.Two website development firms offered to help Kelly’s Angels with a special request. There are collection drives for food, clothes and personal care items already underway. 

This year, we already have more than 160 chambers of commerce in 41 states, Canada and Ireland joining us in celebrating Leap of Kindness Day.

Now, you don’t have to organize a collection drive to participate. Every individual can do something kind for someone else. Make a donation on February 29 to your favorite local charity. Send a thank you note to someone that changed your life. 

February 29 this year is a Saturday. Take your family or friends out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and TIP big. 

Here in Saratoga, we had the chance to invent Leap of Kindness Day. And the impact is humbling to say the least as more people every day share what they plan to do not just in Saratoga County but across the world. So we ask, what will YOU do with your extra day on February 29, 2020? 

For more information on how you can get involved and make a difference, visit: www.saratoga.org/foundation/leap-of-kindness-day-2020.

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