February 14-20 was designated National Random Acts of Kindness Week by the foundation that promotes that ideal.
If there's ever been a week that could have benefited from some unanticipated kindness, it was last week.
Between the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the winter weather that swept through Arkansas and the everyday challenges we each face, many of our neighbors were in need.
The staff at Chambers Cafeteria on the Arkansas Tech University campus in Russellville can testify to that fact.
Shorthanded because some staff members simply could not get to work because of the weather, Nicolle Jarvis and her colleagues from Chartwells, ATU's food service provider, faced the daunting task of providing nourishment for 2,000 snowbound residential students.
That was when members of the ATU football team walked through the doors of the cafeteria, not to eat, but to receive a crash course in hospitality and then utilize their new skills to help feed their fellow students.
"We had most staff call off due to the snow, but watching the handful that showed up every day along with the football players helping was amazing," said Jarvis. "I felt a lot of pride watching them do whatever we needed to do to feed the students, laughing and not complaining…just getting it done. To say it’s been a long year for some of us in food service is an understatement, but I have had many proud moments that have brought tears to my eyes."
Sue Stallings of Russellville can also tell you about the power of kindness.
Mackenzie Eford is a senior member of the ATU volleyball team. After the Golden Suns' match for the week was postponed due to weather, she wanted to expend the energy she would have used on the court in her community.
Eford asked her head coach, Kera Dukic, if she knew of any community members who would benefit from having their driveways shoveled.
The next morning Eford and several of her Golden Suns teammates were at Stallings' house, shovels in hand.
"I was so surprised," said Stallings. "I looked out front, and there was a car parked in front of my house. I didn't think anything about it, but then I looked out a few minutes later and it was still there. When I went out and walked by the car, the young lady rolled her window down and said she was meeting some other girls there to shovel my driveway. They were so sweet, and when they finished the driveway they asked if there was anything else they could do. It was so special. I appreciate their help and I appreciate their wonderful attitudes in being of service to others."
If you follow Arkansas Tech athletics, you are familiar with the emphasis that has been placed on community service in recent years and the national awards the Wonder Boys and Golden Suns have garnered for their efforts in that realm.
The ATU community is rightfully proud of those accolades, but people like Nicolle and Sue reveal the true value of intercollegiate athletics when they talk about the care and concern they have received from our Wonder Boys and Golden Suns.
Yeah, it's fun to win. Arkansas Tech does a lot of that. The real victory, however, is molding leaders who possess empathy and are willing to work hard in pursuit of a worthwhile goal. That is what is happening every day in the ATU Department of Athletics.
Talk to you on the radio.