Hamden rabbi, businesses launch kindness initiative to benefit those in need

A billboard advertises a kindness and giving initiative brought to Hamden by Rabbi Moshe Hecht.

A billboard advertises a kindness and giving initiative brought to Hamden by Rabbi Moshe Hecht.

Contributed photo

HAMDEN — The town’s unique kindness campaign has begun.

Rabbi Moshe Hecht, co-director of Chabad of Hamden, partnering with local businesses, has launched a kindness initiative using small, plastic arks that hold money.

“Ark” in this case stands for “Acts of Random Kindness, and those participating make up the “Kindness Coalition.”

People pick up the yellow, branded arks at participating businesses, for free, and put some coins of bills in them each day. When the ark is full, they simply pass it on to someone in need, or to a charitable organization.

There are 12,000 arks out there that will be distributed at Alltown Fresh, Liberty Bank, ShopRite, Ion Bank, Chabad of Hamden and Webster Bank.

Although people can fill them with money all at once, Hecht said there would something “beautiful” in it for everyone if those filling the arks put a little change in each day.

“I think this is a very important and unique medium in that it’s not about what’s being given,” but also that it’s creating givers, Hecht said.

Although the arks can be filled in any manner people wish to, putting money in the ark daily “transforms a person’s psyche and influences their actions” daily. Hecht said the daily act will help “develop a habit of giving.”

The Kindness Coalition is a group of local organizations, where the arks will be distributed in Hamden, that have united to make a positive change.

“Being a Rabbi, my focus is primarily to encourage our congregants in performing Jewish mitzvot, as well as encouraging all of humankind to make the world a better place,” Hecht said. “ARK is a novel concept which allows us all to come together as one, putting any differences aside, to positively impact the world.”

For more information and to find out where to get an ark, visit DailyActOfKindness.org.

Although good deeds, or mitzvahs, are central to Judaism, Hecht said there is no religious connection to the ark initiative or to the use of an ark as the container.

“Anyone can write a check, but that’s a one-time thing,” he said. “You’re doing this daily and that’s what I think is fantastic.”

Hecht said the initiative is modeled after one rolled out by the Jewish community in South Africa that proved successful.