With over 18,000 members Riverside's Facebook group Random Acts of Kindness, otherwise known as RAOK, strives to help those who need help in the community. One way of doing that is by hosting an RAOK event to raise funds and bring the community together. Saturday July 26, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. RAOK members, volunteers, and vendors will join together at La Sierra Baptist Church in Riverside for a car wash, huge community yard sale and other activities throughout the day.
Creator of the group John Gordon started the group back in March on Facebook with the intention of doing just that, random acts of kindness and having others share their stories and random acts of kindness with the group. The group has 14 admins that help Gordon keep things running smoothly and about 45-40 volunteers that help on an ongoing basis as well.
According to a post on the groups Facebook page, "This is a community where ALL members are strongly encouraged to interact with one another and share your stories of your acts! It can be something as simple as holding a door open for someone, complimenting someone’s outfit, or buying someone a cup of coffee. When you take the time to break the mold and go out of your way for someone to brighten their day, you have just made a difference to someone."
Prior to starting the group on Facebook in March, "We were a few doing drives and such out of my business Water Heater Depot." said Gordon.
This is the first fundraiser that the group has put together, although they have done food, clothing and toy drives for Christmas and Thanksgiving and helped organize and execute other events.
One family that the group has helped was Jacob Sikkenga, 23 of Riverside and his girlfriend and their kids. RAOK helped by fully furnishing the families first apartment without him and his family knowing. Back in April, the family came in to tape measure the apartment, and walked in to a surprise.
“It was very shocking a complete surprise John found out about our situation and made lots of things happen from food in the fridge to dishes and blankets,” said Sikkenga.
Jacob said, that he tries to do random acts of kindness as well when he can. He loves the group and how they can help.
This event will feature Queen Elsa from Frozen, and the Bat Mobile. There will be bounce houses, face painting, and hot dogs and drinks all free to the public.
"The event is to benefit riversides community and surrounding areas, to strengthen our moral fiber as a society and to bring back a sense of community team, not community for them self's. That with this hundreds if not thousands will be helped with food, clothing, housing, beds and medical assistance," said Gordon.
A balloon release will take place at 11 a.m. in memory of loved ones.
Many sponsors have helped out to make this event a success, “Water Heater Depot is the biggest sponsor, otherwise lots of small individuals and businesses, but mostly churches and family's. La Sierra Baptist church is one big one," said Gordon.
Funds raised from this event will be divided multiple ways, helping different organizations such as, La Sierra church, Sylvia's Sober Living, a nonprofit called Pay it Forward with Love, Taking it to the streets with Lori and Shari, Boys and Girls Club of Riverside County, a veterans family for beds and back to school supplies and a men's transitional housing program.
The church is located at 10815 Gramercy Pl. in Riverside. For more information on this event, how to help or just to get involved with the group contact the group or any of the admins on their Facebook page.