When Mary Keyser taught in Redford Union School District, she told her students, “I’m going to make it popular to be nice.”
“I felt like as the years went on, it became popular to be negative,” the Farmington resident explained.
Now retired, Keyser is putting her words into action with A Kinder World. I’m In., a for-profit business that makes money to fund acts of kindness. She has trademarked the name and produces branded items that she sells online and at local events.
“I thought, in my little way, I can inspire people to be nicer,” she said.
Keyser has used proceeds to share cookies with folks in Riley Park and to give away t-shirts at local businesses. This past holiday season, she handed gift cards to 20 random Target shoppers.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” she said. “I just want to make this self-perpetuating. I don’t have any loftier goal than that.”
The kindness crusade seems to be gaining ground. Keyser said she’s starting to see people she doesn’t know wearing her t-shirts.
Future plans include a campaign during Teacher Appreciation Month in May and a booth at Art on the Grand, a downtown Farmington art fair held the first weekend in June.
But it’s the simple things that seem to touch Keyser most deeply.
“I gave a candy bar to a (store) clerk one Valentine’s Day, and she got all choked up,” she said. “If there’s a couple of people where I can say I made their day, there’s nothing better.”
Keyser said she has no idea how long she’ll be able to continue; sales will determine what she’s able to do. If you’d like to support her work, visit akinderworldimin.com.