In Conversation with Rachael Smith – Founder of Pantry 4 The People
Give what you can, take what you need.
What started out as a simple community donation box has grown into so much more for Rachael. While the original wardrobe used to start spreading kindness in her local community still stands strong, Rachael has evolved her concept into Pantry 4 The People and is today working with various charities, partners and generous volunteers to help those in need across Sydney.
We were lucky enough to have a chat with Rachael about performing kind acts for others and why it is so important to do so.
Why is being kind important to you?
There is so much negativity in the world and I think it spreads very quickly. I have suffered depression and anxiety for years, so I believe if everyone was just kind to each other the world would be a better place in all aspects of people’s lives.
It just takes something really little, it doesn’t need to be a big, huge gesture or anything on a grand scale. If you can just tell someone they look nice, their hair looks good, even just smile at someone. All these little things make such a massive difference, and especially at the moment. It’s nice to have some kind things happening and things that are positive.
Is it challenging to be kind or does it come naturally?
It depends on your individual circumstances, and for somebody that is feeling really low, doesn’t have a lot or has a lot of negative things happening in their life it can be difficult to see the light and to see the sunshine.
It’s easy to get bogged down in that, although I think inherently as a nation we are kind, we are fun, we are good sports, we do generally look out for each other. Kindness is always there, and sometimes you just need someone to lead the way, like Helga’s are now, to show other people how to be kind.
Do you feel like people would be more inclined to perform an act of kindness if they saw other acts of kindness?
I have definitely seen that from the Pantry, it was a small idea that I started because I saw the new town blessing box in a neighbouring area. I think it just takes one person or a couple of people to show little bits of kindness and then everybody gets on board.
A lot of people want to give, and they think it needs to be something big and it actually doesn’t, it can be something little. When someone is leading the way, when someone is showing kindness it is much easier for other people to get on board. Other people get on board really quickly, people are very kind and very generous, I have found that from the Pantry.
Our community has been incredible! There has not been a week where I have had a low amount of stock, there hasn’t been any times where I have put a call out and haven’t had an immediate response. People do want to be kind, absolutely.
What are your top 3 acts of kindness that you would encourage everyone to perform for others?
1. At the moment, it’s very hard to smile at people, so a gesture such as a nod, a hello or a kind spoken word
2. Do something unexpected for someone, a simple kind gesture like buying food for them.
3. Don’t expect anything in return. Be kind because you want to do it from your heart and it makes you feel good, with no judgement.
How can we be kind?
People say to me, ‘I can’t give anything back’, and so I say to them give back in a different way. Go and do something kind for someone. Go and smile at someone. Go and mow someone’s lawn. Go and do whatever you can do in your world, it doesn’t have to be this.
Being kind doesn’t have to be monetary or financial giving, just do something kind.
Do differences between people stop kindness from spreading?
The Pantry has brought everyone together, so kindness has brought everyone together. They might be divided on political views, but they are not divided in kindness. Whether political views divide you or religion divides you, or whatever your differences are, kindness does not divide you. Kindness will always bring us together, generosity always wins and brings out the best in people.
Want to know more about kindness?
We have commissioned McCrindle to create a report on the current state of kindness in Australia and give us a score that we’re calling The Kindness Index. You can enter your details below to get access to the full report, or we’ve together a Kindness Hub with all the info you need and we’ve collected some community stories and how-to guides in our Kindness Chronicles.