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40 for 40: Woman performs random acts of kindness to celebrate her birthday

Sabrina Ryan in front of the Canadian Blood Services branch on Saanich Road, one of her stops on Jan. 12, 2021, as she carried out 40 acts of kindness for her 40th birthday.

The day became a bit brighter for a few people Tuesday as a woman gave away flowers to passersby as part of 40 acts of kindness she wanted to perform on her 40th birthday.

Sabrina Ryan was busy all day, checking off a wide-ranging list of things she wanted to do for family, friends, strangers and Mother Nature to celebrate her milestone.

Among the activities were a visit to Canadian Blood Services to donate blood, a beach clean-up, a donation to Habitat Acquisition Trust, a bike/bus ride, decorating a tree with edible creations, creating indigenous flower bombs, and a commitment to volunteer.

“I was inspired by reading about another person who had performed acts of kindness on her birthday. My hope is that my actions will in turn inspire others to perform other random acts of kindness as well,” said Ryan. “It can be as simple as buying the person behind you in the drive-through line a coffee. It’s unexpected and is sure to make someone’s day.”

She was accompanied by her two boys, five-year-old Keenan and two-year-old Kade. Her ­husband, Travis, was at work.

She said that Keenan, who already has a loving and giving personality, stayed home from school to help her with her quest, giving flowers to ­strangers with a smile.

Two acts of kindness on her list were reserved for her boys, with a donation to the World Wildlife Fund in recognition of Keenan’s fascination with octopus and a donation to the BCSPCA to acknowledge Kade’s love of dogs.

“I am happy to encourage their connection with living things and Mother Nature.”

Ryan is a member of the Field Naturalists of Vancouver Island Facebook group. When she asked for suggestions for what she could do for Mother Nature, she immediately received ­dozens of ideas, ranging from planting a tree to going vegan for the day.

For Ryan, the only downside of the whole day came after Keenan had just given a ­stranger a flower.

“I could tell that the person was touched by the gesture and really wanted to give him a hug to express her thanks, but with social distancing guidelines due to COVID-19, we both knew that that was not possible.”

This year’s National ­Random Act of Kindness Day returns on Feb. 17 in Canada. It was started by the Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation in 2008. Since 2015 the Victoria ­Foundation has encouraged ­businesses and non-profits to take part. The foundation provides resources and tools to help people provide acts of kindness, such as children ­colouring ­smiley face cards for ­distribution to seniors.