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'Kindness Machine' in downtown Grand Rapids spreads joy

Kindness Machine.png
Posted at 4:00 PM, Jan 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-21 17:57:39-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Outside DeVos Place, there's a vending machine that was once used to dispense bait and tackle. Ange Zelenak drove to Cadillac to pick it up with a vision.

Zelenak, the owner of a company called "InkCourage" that puts words of encouragement on clothing, had a very different idea for what the machine should dispense.

Acts of kindness.

Green is an easy challenge; yellow is a medium one; pink ones are the more difficult ones to execute.

Zelenak had the idea to give them all out for free, initially. But within 24 hours every single challenge was gone. There are some free options, but the most an act of kindness will cost you is $3. All the money goes back into creating more challenges.

"The response has been crazy. A little unexpected," Zelenak said.

Matthew Cooper started a new job at DeVos Place two weeks ago. So far, he's taken two kindness challenges.

“There’s a lot of people in the community that need love," Cooper said.

Challenges range from giving someone who needs warmth a hat, to sharing sticks of gum, to putting encouraging words in public. All designed with brightening people's days, in what has been a difficult two years.

“The last two years have been really tough; just for so many people, there’s been something challenging,” Zelenak said.

Zelenak says if you can be anything, kind is a good place to start.

The Kindness Machine is part of World of Winter in Grand Rapids, and will be out until March 6.

READ MORE: World of Winter takes over downtown Grand Rapids

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