Kindness promoted through checkbooks

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo Lee Cawson, the vice-president of the Aurora Group, holds a poster announcing Go Auto's 2017 Random Acts of Kindness initiative.

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Lee Cawson, the vice-president of the Aurora Group, holds a poster announcing Go Auto’s 2017 Random Acts of Kindness initiative.

Go Auto – the owners of Aurora Ford – surprised its full-time employees last week with $350 each to spend on a random act of kindness.

“They wanted it to be a surprise to everybody and to be all announced to the group at the same time,” said Lee Cawson, the vice-president of the Aurora Group, which includes the company’s operations in Hay River, Yellowknife and at Ekati Mine.

The announcement took place at 2 p.m. on Feb. 21, he said. “It was co-ordinated across all of the Go Auto stores across Western Canada and the territories.”

Cawson explained the basic idea is Go Auto gives money to its employees for them to donate to a person or group in genuine need.

“It didn’t have to be a charity,” he said. “You don’t have to have proof of donation. You just have to take the cheque, and you have to spend it by the end of February. And by March 10 you have to give us just a little sheet on what you did. Just tell us how you spent the money.”

One condition was that employees could not spend the money on themselves or immediate family members, or give it to a sports team or a social club.

“It had to be somebody that was genuinely in need,” said Cawson.

Go Auto donated a total of $1 million to its roughly 2,800 employees in the NWT, Alberta, B.C. and Ontario. The $350 per employee was determined by dividing the number of workers into the $1 million.

With Go Auto’s 88 employees in Hay River, the company donation meant $30,800 into the community.

Plus, the 89 employees in Yellowknife received $31,150 to distribute, and the 86 employees at Ekati Mine got $30,100 to do random acts of kindness.

“A lot of people were not sure what to do with it,” said Cawson on the day after the $1-million donation was announced by the company, which had made a similar donation twice in the past to coincide with the movement for random acts of kindness in February.

However, he noted one employee asked him if it was OK to buy athletic shoes for a boy whose family could not afford them.

Cawson said employees could give the money to one person, or split it up among several people.

Plus, he said some employees could also pool their money together and make a larger donation to a person or group.

–Paul Bickford