It’s taking the concept of “Iowa Nice” to the next level, as today is the first-ever statewide Day of Kindness.

The effort started a few years ago as an offshoot of a project at the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce, and this year, Governor Reynolds signed a proclamation to make it an official day in Iowa. Kara Matheson, at the West Des Moines Chamber, says if everyone starts small it could have huge results.

“Just be intentional. Everyone’s lives are so busy but kindness can go a long way,” Matheson says. “It doesn’t need to be this big, grand gesture. Just write a kind thought on a sticky note and leave it on someone’s car window, maybe sending a quick text. There are so many different ways that you can think of to be kind.”

Matheson says even small acts of kindness can make the biggest difference in someone’s day. “Maybe help with the snow in your neighbor’s driveway,” Matheson says. “Everyone’s very familiar with the ‘pay it forward’ in your line for coffee in the morning, but maybe go to a local school and pay off some of the kids’ lunch tabs. You can get creative with what this looks like.”

Whether big or small, monetary or action-oriented, anonymous or direct, Iowans are encouraged to be intentional with acts of kindness today to make #IowaKind spread far and wide.

“It can be random with anyone you might come across, or it can be picking up the phone and calling a loved one just to check in on them and make sure they’re doing okay,” Matheson says. “Just think about what would make someone smile and take action on that.” She says studies show kindness benefits not only the receiver, but also the giver.

Radio Iowa