The Kind Blog

January 26, 2023

The History of Random Acts of Kindness Day - February 17th
Random Acts of Kindness Day is February 17th!

We finally sat down and pulled together what we believe is the most accurate version about the history of Random Acts of Kindness Day, which occurs annually on February 17th. We have been a bit elusive in our answer because, frankly, we didn’t know the whole story. There have been various anecdotes written, but nothing comprehensive. There are certainly more details, but this is a great summary!


The Random Acts of Kindness movement started more than 40 years ago in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1982 Berkeley writer and activist Anne Herbert published the first known account of “Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Acts of Senseless Beauty” in a CoEvolution Quarterly. After her article appeared, the kindness movement began to spread in surrounding communities.


Fast forward to 1991 when a local woman noticed the phrase scrawled across a warehouse wall in her neighborhood. She shared the phrase with her husband, a then 7th grade teacher, who decided to share it with his students. One of the kids happened to be the daughter of a San Francisco Chronicle columnist, who then wrote about Anne Herbert and the phrase. The article was picked up nationally by Reader’s Digest and later reprinted by the editors of Conari Press, a small press in Berkeley, California.


Inspired by the phrase and the people involved in the movement, the editors at Conari Press published a book highlighting stories of kindness. The book, aptly titled Random Acts of Kindness, was published in February 1993 and was immediately embraced by hundreds of thousands who helped continue the movement. Readers of the book and admirers of the phrase began creating local “Random Acts of Kindness Days” in mid 1993 (30 years ago!).


In February of 1995, the first national Random Acts of Kindness Day took place with participants coast to coast. As a gift to many grassroots organizations, Conari Press funded and facilitated the kickoff year.


Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (RAK) was created in 1995 in the Bay Area to facilitate future celebrations, always taking place in February during Valentine’s Day week. RAK was purchased soon after by a private foundation and moved to Denver, Colorado where it is located today.


The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is a small nonprofit that invests resources into making kindness the norm. We are rooted in the belief that all people can connect through kindness and we follow a simple framework for everything we do.


Inspire -> Empower -> Act -> Reflect -> Share


RAK has an evidence-based Kindness in the Classroom® curriculum that gives students the social and emotional skills needed to live more successful lives. Our workplace resources show companies how easy it is to change workplace culture through simple intentional kind gestures. And, RAK’s home resources help brighten what otherwise would’ve been ‘just a normal day’.


The Random Acts of Kindness foundation has celebrated Random Acts of Kindness Day and Week every year since 1995 with various initiatives/campaigns, always in an effort to remind the world that a simple act of kindness is sometimes all it takes to change a person’s day, week, possibly their life.


Visit this year’s Random Acts of Kindness Day website for FREE resources and a fun #KindnessExperience.


Help make kindness the norm® at school, home and work.


Kindness Resources:


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