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Chamber unveils #LeapofKindness campaign

By Everett Brazil, III

The Newkirk Herald Journal

NEWKIRK — Community supporters filled the Senior Citizens Center Monday evening, Jan. 20, to show their support to the local business scene during the Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet, capping the end of another positive year in 2019. They didn’t just say goodbye to another year, though, but also are looking forward to another year of community support, and unveiled a new campaign for 2020, in #LeapofKindness.

The meal was catered by Stagecoach Restaurant, and included wrapped chicken bites, pulled pork sliders, cranberry chili meatballs, fresh fruit and vegetable trays, chicken salad croissants, cheese and crackers, chips and dip and a dessert buffet. Beverages include tea, lemonade and water.

The highlight of the evening was the announcement of the Citizen of the Year and Businessperson of the Year. Tom Rigdon was honored as Citizen of the Year, but was unable to attend. His daughter, Emily, and Jack McCarty accepted the award on his behalf, and McCarty gave a tribute to Rigdon. John and Pamela Miller were honored as the Businesspeople of the Year for operating Miller-Stahl Funeral Home, which has been in business for more than 60 years. Their children gave them a surprise visit when they received the award.

Following the awards, the crowd sat down to the delicious meal, and Chamber President Debbie Leaming looked back on the success of the year, which included the 2019 banquet, city employee feed in May, assisting Newkirk Main Street with Charlie Adams Day in September, the Snow Princess and Snow Prince pageant and Christmas Parade in December, and Monsters on Main on Halloween. Monsters on Main was moved to the Senior Citizens Center due to cold weather, but it was still counted as a success. Leaming pledged to hold it on the Kay County Courthouse plaza for 2020, and that all events will be held again for the New Year.

Leaming presented a new program, special to 2020, in #LeapofKindness, to coincide with Leap Year, Feb. 29. The event is planned to continue every four years, on Leap Year.

“Every four years, you get an extra day, so the question is, what do you do with the extra day?” she asked. “Being kind seemed to be a good answer.”

Leaming learned of the program through other Chambers of Commerce, and knew it would easily apply to the friendly, open atmosphere in Newkirk.
“Chamber offices across the United States do it, and we just wanted to be part of it,” she said. “Kindness is a Newkirk standard, it’s in our DNA, and we do it without bragging, but this time, we would like people to post on social media so people can take part.”

Participants are encouraged to do an act of kindness for someone in the community, whether it be a family member, a friend or even a stranger at the store. That act of kindness can be big or small, as it is the gesture that counts, not the actual activity, she said.

“If someone wanted to plan a big gesture, make a dinner or pay a bill for someone, there is plenty of time for that,” Leaming said. “The thing about kindness is the small gestures are just as good as the big ones.”

Leaming described many acts of kindness, including letting someone go in front of them in line, picking up trash and visiting family and friends as gestures of kindness.

“You could write a card of gratitude to a child’s teacher, or a mentor,” she said.

The acts of kindness can also be tied into the community from a larger perspective, by shopping locally in Newkirk, which in a way is an act of kindness toward the business owner.

“As a Chamber, we want businesses in our buildings, and bodies in our businesses, and we love fun events, so we really try to have fun in our projects and events,” she said. “We thought this was a fun way to get people to shop locally, and if they do shop locally, then they’ve already done one act of kindness.”

Participants are encouraged to post the act on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and also post it on the Chamber’s Facebook page and Web site, which may encourage others to perform their own kind deed.

“People will see it, and everybody will go out and do something kind,” she said. “It’s like a big circle – everybody wins.”

For more information, check out the Newkirk Herald Journal newspaper each week, as the Chamber will have kindness suggestions in the weeks leading up to the #LeapofKindness day, Feb, 29, or contact the Chamber of Commerce, at, or call (580) 362-2155.

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