Feb. 16, 2021Print | PDF
Performing random acts of kindness have become anything but random for Wilfrid Laurier University student Sarah Stapleton.
Stapleton, a fourth-year music student, is the founder of The Kindness Quest, a personal mission turned online movement to perform a simple act of kindness each day. Since New Year’s Day 2020, Stapleton has spread kindness to classmates, friends and strangers, documenting her experience online and inspiring fellow kindness questers around the world.
“Spreading kindness is free and easy to do and has an incredible ripple effect,” says Stapleton. “The ripple effect is what sparked this journey for me and has kept it going for over a year.”
The ripple effect started after Stapleton put some money in a Love of Reading Foundation donation box as she waited in the check-out line at an Indigo store in October 2019. After making the donation, Stapleton noticed several other customers in line donate.
“I thought to myself, ‘How easy was that?’ says Stapleton. “It got me thinking about other ways I could make a positive impact and inspire others in the process.”
Throughout the remainder of 2019, Stapleton tested ways to spread kindness anonymously. She sent gift cards from a generic email account, said hello to strangers, left uplifting notes for her classmates, and held doors open for others. She kept lists of ways to spread kindness and created a website, thekindessquest.com, as she prepared to embark on her quest.
On Jan. 1, 2020, Stapleton performed and later recorded her first act of kindness online: “Comforted a friend in need.”
Stapleton’s kindness quest progressed as planned throughout January and February, but the shift to virtual life during the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to rethink her kindness-sharing strategy in mid-March. With opportunities for spreading kindness in-person on pause, Stapleton took to Instagram on March 24 to keep her kindness quest going, posting daily calls to action and inspirational quotes. She also found ways to connect spreading kindness with her passion for singing, performing virtually for residents of seniors’ homes and even taking musical requests.
"I was pleasantly surprised how easy it became to fit one small act of kindness into my day,” says Stapleton. “As a music student, I am used to practising. Spreading kindness took practice in the beginning, but then it became a habit.”
A desire to do good and help others resonated with Stapleton’s followers. By the beginning of May, The Kindness Quest Instagram account had amassed 1,000 followers from countries including Canada, the United States, India and China.
Stapleton’s mission has garnered interest from corporate and post-secondary institutions looking for ways to support the well-being of their staff and students during the pandemic. She has led virtual kindness quest events for four major accounting firms in North America in addition to presenting to Conestoga College’s Self-Care Club and offering private coaching.
Stapleton plans to develop The Kindness Quest into a non-profit organization after graduation, with money she earns from speaking engagements used to develop the organization.
“Knowing there are other people in the world who want to do this and spread kindness keeps me focused on my mission,” says Stapleton.
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