An Orange Year: 2010

What a way to start this year, with a new friend, Dorothy. We handed out more than 20 orange bags filled with small gifts, to strangers and to friends on a gloomy grey day in White Rock, dressed in Orange. Thank you, Dorothy!

Spreading the sunshine

By Tracy Holmes

- Peace Arch News

In the space of just a few hours, a warm glow was spread across the Peninsula last week.

It came in the form of orange bags filled with sundry orange goodies and “a touch of the ludicrous” delivered at random by two women dressed in – you guessed it – orange.

Audrey Nolte-Painter and Dorothy Beavington say the gesture was about spreading warmth, enthusiasm, sunshine and compassion; about shaking the blues that many feel this time of year and launching a brighter 2010.

They hope people will pay it forward with other random acts of kindness.

“We want it to have a ripple effect, like the sunshine going out,” Beavington, a long-time Peninsula resident, said.

The idea was inspired by White Rock resident Susan Strangway’s well-known New Orleans-style house on West Beach.

The orange-trimmed building – demolished last year – was “a piece of sunshine... planted on Marine Drive for us all to enjoy,” Nolte-Painter wrote last fall in a letter to the Peace Arch News thanking Strangway.

Nolte-Painter, who moved to B.C. from South Africa with her family 12 years ago, was thrilled when Strangway replied in kind, saying she planned to rebuild.

“I am continuing with my bright-orange palette, despite the loud opinions of the ‘taste police,’” Strangway wrote.

“The magic and enchantment from the old house is carried inside us, like an inextinguishable flame.”

So Nolte-Painter decided the sunshine and friendliness of orange – a reminder in many ways of her birthplace – was to be the theme of her 2010.

Spreading the orange was also a way to say a few thank-yous, she told Peace Arch News, and to show students she taught at Semiahmoo Secondary she practises what she preached.

“I spoke to them so often about acts of kindness,” she explained.

When Nolte-Painter mentioned her plan at a drumming circle that Beavington also attends, the day of giving was born.

The pair, who share a strong social conscience and a passion for writing, carried out their plan on Jan. 25, delivering the orange bags both to pre-determined recipients and random strangers.

Items in the bags – from candles to socks to feathered earrings to goldfish crackers – shared only one theme: they were orange.

Nolte-Painter said she was touched by how much the gesture touched others.

“Most of them cried. They smiled, but they cried, because it was just such a nice thing that happened,” she said.

There are no plans to repeat the day, however, reflecting on the day, both women, say it has potential to be so much more.

“It somehow strikes a chord,” Beavington said.




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