Turning Blue Monday on its ear one smile at a time in Kelowna

Local group tackles corporate consumerism and negativity with a Monday filled with random acts of kindness

  • Jan. 21, 2015 5:00 p.m.

Brooklyn Glass

On a day that some call one of the most depressing days of the calendar year, a Kelowna group decided to get out and change that perception into one of caring, love and positivity.

Known as Blue Monday since 2005 when a public relations firm first coined the term as a marketing ploy, the third week in January has become known as a dark day for some and another way for company’s to market things from bottled water to booze to vacation packages.

But a Kelowna-based organization called Open For Change decided to flip the marketing tool on its ear by re-naming the day Make Someone Smile Day and taking to the streets of Kelowna to hand out positive messages and gifts to try and brighten people’s spirits.

About 10 people from the group were at Walmart posting sticky-note messages while hundreds of others linked to the group’s Facebook page were saying they too would help spread the word on Monday. Among the messages left on sticky notes were “Be Happy, You Are Amazing” while the group also left gift bags for people.

“We asked people to do random acts of kindness to put a smile on people’s faces, to brighten up apparently what is the most depressing day of the year,” said Hope For Change founder Michael Lavigne, who said the event was a great success. “You should have seen the reaction of people. They just loved it. It inspired people. It’s doesn’t cost a thing and what people are finding is when you give to someone else you are getting for yourself too. You are getting that feel-good feeling inside and you create a ripple effect. We should all be doing random acts of kindness but sometimes we just need an excuse to do it.”

Lavigne founded his for-profit social enterprise in December of 2013 and last year began building a platform to push for changes in the way the world is going. He said part of the group’s mandate is to take on the corporate consumerism that is taking over our culture. Another day on the group’s radar is Black Friday, another day invented by corporations as a way to make money.

“Next year we will have White Friday, a whole campaign so instead of going to a store and trampling each other for a new TV, you can help others,” he said. “It’s all about getting away from this corporate greed that is destroying our society one purchase at a time.”

On Valentine’s Day, Open For Change will hold another initiative to help the homeless issue in Kelowna.

Find out more at openforchange.com

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