Meet Omar. Omar Al-Dib is a recent Carleton graduate (BCS/18). He is also the founder of CU Smile, a Carleton club dedicated to making the Carleton campus and the world a better place through acts of kindness. Founded in 2016, CU Smile’s members carry out its mission of ‘helping anyone and everyone in our community’ by volunteering with food banks, organizing clothing drives and blood drives, supporting student mental health and much more.
Omar was inspired to launch CU Smile after watching a viral video of a young woman performing random acts of kindness on her birthday. “It changed my life,” Omar says of the video. “I just realized how easy it is to do good and make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
Fast forward four years. Omar was gearing up for his 26th birthday when the coronavirus hit and changed everything.
Remembering the birthday acts of kindness video he had watched years ago, and knowing that many people were struggling during the pandemic, he had an idea.
“I just felt like if there was ever a time when people needed a little extra help or kindness, it had to be now,” Omar shares.
He decided to channel his inspiration and make his own birthday video: 26 acts of kindness for his 26th birthday. With that, Operation 26 was born.
Over the course of four weeks, Omar carried out and recorded 26 acts of kindness within the Ottawa community. He developed the list of activities based on previous experience and need.
“A lot of the acts that I selected were based on previous large-scale CU Smile events—for example, instead of working with other volunteers to make 800 lunch bags for individuals experiencing homelessness, I made 26 lunches in my kitchen at home,” Omar explains. “Other activities were selected based on the needs of our community at this time, such as donating blood, distributing food for essential workers, supporting local businesses and making masks.”
The acts were widespread and diverse. They ranged from simple and sweet—like offering to get groceries for elderly tenants in his apartment complex—to more ambitious—like engaging his friends to come together to sponsor a child.
To amplify the impact of his efforts, Omar partnered with several local organizations with which he had volunteered in the past. This included working with Your Youth Ottawa to provide care packages to students affected by COVID-19 and donating bags of food for families in need to the Canadian Palestinian Cultural Forum (CPCF) and the Ottawa Food Bank.
“It was nice to drop by, help out and see some familiar faces,” Omar says of working with these organizations.
While Operation 26 was a personal mission for Omar, he wanted to get his friends and members of CU Smile involved, too.
“Change doesn’t happen singularly,” Omar says. “It can start with an individual, but it has to move beyond that. No matter how many times I do these acts individually, if it doesn’t spark a change in the people around me or inspire them to get involved, it won’t make a far-reaching impact on campus, in the community or in the world."
“After posting the Operation 26 video, I’ve had many people reach out and ask how they can help. It’s always been a goal for me to get others involved, so that feels really good.”
Coming off of the success of Operation 26, Omar says he’s more motivated than ever to do good in his community.
“As comfortable and easy as it would be to stay home right now, I know that I can’t—there are people who lost their jobs, who are struggling to put food on the table and who are having a hard time coping with everything that's happening.
“I often say to myself: ‘I can relax, watch Netflix or play that next video game when everyone around me is OK. Who knows? Maybe my purpose on Earth is to make someone’s life a little easier. And I'm more than happy to spend the rest of my life trying to do just that!”
You can view the Operation 26 video here.
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