With winter on its way in, the University of Georgia Office of Sustainability partnered with Karma Coffee to spread a little extra warmth.
Students, faculty and other members of the Athens community gathered in Myers Quad Wednesday, Oct. 25, for Kindfest, a festival created to spread kindness.
People who attended the festival enjoyed live music while engaging with organizations like Athens Humane Society, Nezda’s Waffles, KIND, Food 2 Kids, the Chapel Bell, the Backpack Project and more.
Karma Coffee, an organization founded in November of 2015 by University of Georgia student, Jaren Mendel, was the driving force behind UGA’s first ever Kindfest.
This, “pay it forward movement” aspires to spread kindness and positivity through the sale of its coffee. Rather than paying for coffee with money, Karma Coffee accepts random acts of kindness as their form of payment.
“Karma Coffee is based on the vision that we have more potential for kindness in our day-to-day interactions,” Mendel said. “We’re trying to bridge the gap between strangers and friends and reintroduce kindness into those interactions.”
Mendel believes Kindfest is the perfect platform to spread positivity and boost the morale of members of the Athens community.
“Kindfest is the recognition that our environment and surroundings heavily influence our thoughts and actions. We want kindness to be at the front of people’s minds,” said Mendel.
Justin Guld, student and staffer of the Backpack Project, believes it’s important for like-minded organizations to work together to achieve their goals.
“As partners with Karma Coffee, we’ve both really grown in the last couple of years,” Guld said. “We have the same general goal of helping others, and although we go about it in different ways, it’s nice to come together for something bigger.
Students at the festival had the opportunity to write positive messages to one another, write thank you letters to members of the community, enjoy Nezda’s waffles with Karma Coffee and even play with puppies from the Humane Society.
“I was the kind of person in high school to leave sticky notes on my friends’ cars if they were having a bad day,” said Lauren Palgon, senior entertainment and media studies and theatre double major from Dunwoody. “This kind of festival is what I’m all about.”
Some students admitted that although they didn’t know exactly what the festival was for at first, the name of the festival made them want to learn more.
“I saw something advertising the festival, and I really loved the name of it. As soon as I looked up and saw the participating organizations, I got really excited for Kindfest,” said Andrea Kout, graduate student in UGA’s early childhood education program from Marietta.
Mendel said his inspiration for kindness stems from his desire to make a difference in the world around him.
“It’s all about finding what you think the biggest problem in the world is and then figuring out how to attack it,” said Mendel. “I care so that others will care, too.”