by Katie Tran

“ARKin’ Downtown allows members to recognize the true meaning of kindness because we venture out in Downtown SJ and we step out of our comfort zones to do spontaneous things we wouldn’t do on a regular basis, like serenading or giving a stranger a hug,” says ARK President Janeene Yeh.

On Nov. 4, ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) held their annual event, ARKin’ Downtown. The event took place at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There was a good amount of attendees, about the same as last year but with some IHS (Independence High School) students joining as well. This is one of the biggest events that ARK holds during the year.

“Anyone can sign up, we gather Downtown to do a bunch of ice breakers and then we split into groups for the scavenger hunt,” explains Publicist Quynh Le.

At the event, ARK prepared icebreakers and activities for their members.  They had a variety of icebreakers to allow members to become acquainted with each other before the scavenger hunt such as ‘The Zoo Game’, ‘I Love My Neighbor’ and ‘The Human Knot.’  These icebreakers all serve different purposes, such as to get the attendees more comfortable with each other and to strengthen their teamwork. Members then separate into groups using lyrics from different Disney songs. They were expected to find their own groups using the lyrics and groups prepared small skits with the song to perform in front of everyone. These same groups then embarked on the main event of the day, the scavenger hunt.

Just like the club itself, the event revolves around showing kindness to strangers. The scavenger hunt wasn’t finding items on a list but rather completing as many tasks as possible in the given time of an hour and a half. Tasks count as varying amounts of points as long as they were videoed or photographed for evidence. Groups with the most points were rewarded fuzzy socks and candy in a mug, which are wrapped and tied with ribbon and have an attached white plush seal keychain.

“Tasks include taking a kawaii photo with your group, holding the door open for someone, telling a pick up line to someone and leaving a note in a book at the library,” says Janeene.

ARK had also set up a big poster in which members wrote nice and encouraging messages on a variety of brightly colored post-it notes that were then stuck onto that poster. The post-it notes are meant for SJSU (San Jose State University) students to peel off and keep while the poster itself contained a bigger message that would be revealed once all post-it notes are taken.

“ARK has been hosting ARKin’ Downtown since 2015 but we’re definitely continuing it for many years to come,” reveals Quynh.

Before the event, the club held a sneak peek scavenger hunt at their regular Thursday meeting. Attendees of the meeting formed groups of five and set off to complete the five activities on the sneak peek scavenger hunt list. The five activities listed were the following: take a picture with a teacher, tell a stranger a pick-up line, take a picture with a spirit week participant, spell out ARK with group members’ bodies and make seal noises with a friend for five seconds. The groups are expected to provide ARK officers with photographic evidence as proof. The group who finishes the quickest wins the pre scavenger hunt and are rewarded half an act.

This is a big activity for ARK because the event itself is meant to help members make friends and memories. Not only do attendees leave the event with new friendships, but they also leave with the satisfaction of knowing that they were able to make someone’s day.

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