Niagara Falls has proclaimed May 16 as “Do Something Good for your Neighbour Day.”
The movement has spread from the U.S. to a growing number of Canadian cities, including Red Deer, Cornwall, Pickering, St. John, Burnaby, Westminster and Langley, and now Niagara Falls.
“From raking some leaves, to baking some cookies or maybe simply sharing a tea together, Do Something Good for your Neighbour Day is another way that people in Niagara Falls make ours a warm, caring community,” said Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati.
“Celebrating this day is the epitome of being Canadian and spreading the love – this just gives us one more excuse to be great neighbours.”
Buffalo-based founder Starr Valentino started the initiative in 2009, turning it into an international awareness campaign, which now has more than 500 cities participating every year on May 16.
“I felt like we were missing love,” said Valentino, during a phone interview with Niagara Now.
“Back then I felt like, 'what can I do to make a difference to try and bring people back together?' And it just came to me.”
He first started by handing out ribbons, gift cards, flags and t-shirts, which eventually caught the attention of the city of Atlanta, which was the first city to officially recognize Do Something Good for your Neighbour Day in 2011.
“Ever since then, I was just so inspired that I started reaching out to cities,” said Valentino.
Buffalo became the second city to proclaim support for the movement, followed by Washington D.C.
For Valentino, the whole “essence” of the day is an opportunity to be a good neighbour – whether it is going out of your way to say hello or offering a helping hand to someone in need.
“It’s like when Christmas or any other holiday would come up, what’s the first thing you do?” said Valentino.
“It could be a family member, a relative or a stranger, as long as you do something good on that day, then you did your job.”
The “ultimate goal” is to inspire people.
Valentino hopes more Canadian cities like Niagara Falls will adopt the day and that May 16 will become more widely recognized as Do Something Good for your Neighbour Day.
“I have gotten so many positive responses from Canada, I’m amazed,” he said.
“When this day comes up … go out and do something good.”