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Ontario Teen’s Act of Giving Inspires Community


Natalie Geerlinks, a cashier in a local grocery story in Woodstock, Ontario, was inviting people to donate 25 cents to the Food for Friends program during the week leading up to Thanksgiving. “I noticed a lot of people were saying no,” said Geerlinks. “I decided . . . to donate a quarter for everyone at my checkout who didn’t.”

What started as a small donation decision started a trail of random acts of kindness.

At the end of her shift, Geerlinks, 18, had donated $17.25, which she doubled. But the giving didn’t end there. Her manager heard about what Geerlinks was doing and wanted to match the donation—and challenged other departments to donate as well.

A local radio station came for an interview. They shared the story with the Woodstock area and on Facebook, which inspired others to send in checks matching the donation to Operation Sharing.

“We were surprised at the response,” said Natalie’s mother, Irene Geerlinks. “She made the decision, and I thought, ‘Okay, that’s nice.’ And then she came home from work a few days later saying, ‘Um, I think I’m going to be on the news.’”

It was also the beginning of a bigger project for Geerlinks. “I follow Free the Children on Facebook and I read an article . . . about a girl who was doing 21 random acts of kindness for her 21st birthday. I recently turned 18, and I thought if she could do 21 random acts, I could do 18! I decided that my first random act of kindness would be to donate [the] quarters.”

Geerlinks is a member of Covenant Christian Reformed Church in Woodstock.

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