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Former alderman Bolger encourages 'random acts of kindness'

Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

McHENRY – It was a simple idea printed in simple black words on a bright yellow bumper sticker: Practice simple acts of kindness.

Bill Bolger hoped the reminder would inspire more people.

“Many times it’s the things you should do, but sometimes, it’s the things you just do,” Bolger said. “No act of kindness is too small.”

Bolger, who spent 44 years as a McHenry alderman before retiring about 10 years ago, had about 100 bumper stickers printed up and gave them to the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce to distribute.

The initiative also is being sponsored by the city of McHenry.

Mayor Sue Low sees the bumper stickers, which were displayed on the cars city officials rode in the Fiesta Days parade, tying into the city’s Character Counts campaign.

Character Counts recognizes individuals and entities for the good works they do.

“What’s interesting to me is it truly embraces that idea of random acts of kindness,” Low said. “The people who have been recognized are ordinary people.”

She recalled a situation where a group of friends were playing basketball and one had a heart attack. Two of the friends – Bill Hobson, now the city’s deputy city administrator, and Steve Bellmore, the school board president – ended up saving the man’s life.

Hobson and Bellmore were recognized by the Character Counts committee.

McHenry West High School Assistant Principal Carl Vallianatos, who sits on the Character Counts committee, sees the idea translating at the high school too.

He’s brainstorming designs, tying in the school’s colors and mascot.

Vallianatos had started thinking about doing something centered around random acts of kindness after attending the McHenry Rotary morning meetings, which have a portion devoted to sharing stories about acts of kindness committed or witnessed.

He’d like to see student groups incorporate this idea into their meetings, he said.

“You never know where things are going to lead when our kids get a hold of it,” he said.

Bolger has been a bit surprised by the positive reaction.

“People have said the whole world needs this,” he said.

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