Pulling weeds and playing bingo with hospital patients may sound like unusual ways for teenagers to spend the afternoon, but that’s what some Aim High students are doing in Tahoe/Truckee. This summer, the afternoon activity Random Acts of Kindness teaches students to give back to the community. Each Thursday afternoon, Aim High teachers Kendra Madding and Liza Engstrom lead Random Acts of Kindness participants on several volunteer outings. “The act of giving directly impacts the brain’s pleasure circuit, leading to greater happiness for the giver,” said Liza and Kendra, explaining their inspiration for the activity. “We want to provide students with the opportunity to give back to their communities as well as experience how good it feels to do so.” They launched their series of benevolent summer deeds by handing out lollipops at the beach and leaving notes of kindness on parked cars. They also read to children at the Boys and Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe, worked in the garden of a local science research center, built bird feeders, and raised money for a local non-profit. Liza and Kendra hope that their students will gain a passion for doing good in their community after participating in Random Acts of Kindness. The students enjoyed reading to other children and were very kind to the patients at the hospital, so it seems that Liza and Kendra’s idea has caught on. “I like that we get to leave little surprises for people. Thinking about making someone else’s day nicer or easier makes me happy,” said one of the students. With the Aim High summer program wrapping up in Tahoe/Truckee, Random Acts of Kindness comes to a close, but its influence will live on. “We hope to cultivate a culture of altruism within Aim High, which will then increase happiness and feelings of self worth among students,” Liza and Kendra said. Want to see other innovative ways students spend their afternoons at Aim High? Read about our other electives like gardening, environmental conservation, and sandwich-making!