CROFTON, Md. — At a busy coffee shop in Waugh Chapel, the four Caminiti children spread out with their "Jack RAKs" in hand, looking to bring a little kindness to strangers drinking their coffee.
The Jack RAKs, which stands for random act of kindness, are small baggies with a few pink Starbursts inside. There's also a note that tells the story about six-year-old Jack, who died two years ago from leukemia. He was a neighbor of the Caminiti family and the pink Starbursts were his favorite.
"We’re spreading kindness in honor of Jack who was a kind, gentle kid, who always seemed to put a smile on someone’s face even when he was feeling really crummy," said Kristen Caminiti.
Spreading acts of kindness has become a regular activity for Kristen, her husband Matt and her children Ryan, 10, Zach, 7, Connor, 5, and Tessa, 20-months-old.
She believes that kindness is something to be practiced often and with intention.
"We need to teach our children, and everybody else’s children, that kindness is to be spread to anyone, everywhere," she said.
Their acts of kindness can be big and small. They paint kindness rocks to leave around their neighborhood, Anne Arundel county, or in different states. Kristen crochets little, colorful balls with eyes called "meeps" to give out to people.
One of their bigger gestures was in 2017, after a noose was found hanging outside of Crofton Middle School. Kristen organized a "Chalk the Walk" event to write messages of love and positivity outside of the school. She expected a few people to show up.
"We had 300 people show up on Mother’s Day to Chalk the Walk and kind of drown out that hateful message of the noose with as much positivity as possible."
And that's how the non-profit Kindness Grows Here came to be, which stemmed from a grassroots group Kristen started called Crofton Is Kind. She gives talks all around Anne Arundel County, often with her kids in tow, about the impact an act of kindness, no matter how big or small, can make. She says she sees it all the time in her kids.
"We go out and do these random acts of kindness to strangers and they see how doing one little act of giving them a treat unexpectedly can have such an impact," she said. "People just light up with a big smile. We’ve had people who we’ve given something to and they cry."
Her family fully embraces the mission of Kindness Grows Here and loves to do things to make people smile and feel appreciated.
"It feels really good and the people look really happy," said Zach.
Connor chimed in, "And it makes us feel really happy!"
Big brother Ryan agrees. "It makes me feel really happy when you can see their reactions of how happy they are to receive just a small random act of kindness."
To nominate a family for the Chick-fil-A Everyday Heroes award, click here.