World Link’s 2nd Annual Kindness Cookies Project was a huge success. With more than 120 participants around the world, this year’s Kindness Cookies Project shared 17,500 treats with people who needed a little extra joy during their holiday season.
After donating her Romanian holiday cookies, called “fursecuri” and Romanian cheese pretzels, “covrigei” to the local fire department, Alesia reflected on her Kindness Cookies Project experience, “It was an amazing opportunity to show some appreciation to the hard-working people out there who are away from their families during the holidays.“
What we shared
World Link students, host families, alumni, coordinators, and national staff baked a wide variety of desserts to share. Some students chose to share their culture with a traditional recipe from their home country. For example, Mais from Israel made her version of Makrouta, a cookie she filled with spreadable chocolate. Ketevan from Georgia treated her neighbors and school staff to multiple traditional goodies such as ‘churchkhela’, otherwise known as a “Georgian Snickers”, ‘khachapuri’, a bread boat filled with cheese and egg, and ‘gozinaki’, a sweet walnut brittle. Ema from Serbia thought back to her childhood and recreated her grandmother’s recipe called “Bombice” or “Little Bombs”. She shared her grandmother’s treats with residents of a women’s shelter.
Other students choose to partake in some American holiday traditions. Alongside their host families, students made chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter blossoms, and chocolate-dipped pretzels. Others, like our student Guram from Georgia, enjoyed the Christmas tradition of frosting home-baked sugar cookies with their young host siblings. Some students, like Aisuluu O from Kyrgyzstan, provided children the opportunity to decorate their own sugar cookies by donating the unfrosted cookies to various community events in their town!
Adding a little extra cheer
Some students decided to go above and beyond and make their Kindness Cookies Project a little extra special. Mariami from Georgia included little notes of inspiration in both English and Georgian with the cookies she donated to people with mental illness. She wrote phrases such as, “You are stronger than you think you are” and “Believe in yourself and you are halfway there”.
“I was beyond happy when I saw people’s fascinated faces when they said how beautiful the Georgian letters were and how important it was for them to get those notes from a total stranger. I can surely say that the Kindness Cookies project brings holiday spirit and a feeling of being loved to everybody who receives the cookie.“, Mariami wrote.
Sharafiddin from Kyrgystan teamed up with his host mom to make small care packages for the homeless for their Kindness Cookies Project. The care package included socks, hygiene items, candy, a sandwich, and of course some chocolate chip cookies. Together, they brighten 30 people’s holiday season!
Getting others involved
World Link’s Kindness Cookies Project is a worldwide service project, open to anyone who wants to participate. World Link alumni jumped on this opportunity to spread holiday cheer. Some gathered together small groups to hand out their homemade treats. For example, our alum Tsogbitleg from Mongolia had his volunteer group keep the community warm by giving tea and candies in one of the coldest capital cities in the world, Ulaanbaatar. Three World Link Georgian alumni, Edgar, Irakli, and Lasha donated their boxes of treats to children and the elderly. Alumna Maria from Greece collaborated with a non-profit called, “SOS Children’s Villages”. Together they delivered handmade cards and cookies to children in need in the village of Thessaloniki. Others, like Lida from Armenia, got their natural family involved. She and her brother baked cookies together and delivered them to their neighbors.
World Link students also reached out to their friends and loved ones back home. The mother of Aisuluu O from Kyrgyzstan learned about the project and was eager to participate. She ended up baking 70 treats to share with orphaned children in her village. Alesia’s Romanian friends joined in as well, baking more than 70 cookies which they shared with the homeless in their community.
World Link’s Kindness Cookies may be a small project, but it has a big impact. Here is what our students had to say about their participation in this year’s project:
“When I participated in Kindness Cookies I felt the holiday’s magic spirit…Everything, starting with baking cookies with my host family and generating stronger bonds and family relationships, and finishing with making others happy by kindness cookies as a love and care gesture, warmed my heart. The feeling of making someone feel needed and loved is the best feeling ever.” – Sabrina Rokhatkulova (Tajikistan/IA)
“The kindness cookies project is a micro art of expressions that has a macro impact on people. It is fulfilling to think that in that simple form of kindness you became a good samaritan, you made people feel warmth, loved, and included in this society. It is my honor because I was able to illuminate that torch of hope in my community through cookies, it is my pleasure that I got the chance to introduce myself and the Philippines to some strangers, and it is my accomplishment to serve cookies here in Colorado which made people lift their heads with a smile.” – Mahir Ibrahim (Philippines/CO)
“The Kindness Cookies project made me feel inspired to do kind things for people just because I could. It was this amazing feeling to see people’s reactions when they receive an unexpected act of kindness. I feel like this project brought a lot of happiness not only on the receiving end but also to us, the students. The project contributed to reminding people for the holidays how awesome it feels like to do something kind, and inspiring others to do the same.” – Nikola Maksimov (Bulgaria/CA)
“Kindness Cookies project once more reminded me that people in the world need to be connected with each other and share kindness.” – Marjona Vahobova (Tajikistan/MT)
“Goethe once said, ‘kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together.’ Participating in this project gave me that feeling of satisfaction and happiness that Christmas brings and binds society. I had so much fun with my friends and family while making cookies and whenever I gave it out to the police, library, hospital, the chamber room… they all felt so appreciated that it made me smile every time.” – Sesili Basilaia (Georgia/IA)
“The whole process, from the beginning to the end, was so fulfilling…My favorite part of all was seeing all those faces light up when I delivered the cookies. They thanked us repeatedly and had huge smiles on their faces when taking pictures. They were happy to get them and to know they were appreciated, you could really see that. Those smiles will always get me to participate in the Kindness Cookie challenge every year in a heartbeat.” – Ashfiya Arzu (Bangladesh/CA)
“I was really happy to make kindness cookies and donate them. It made me feel like I’m leaving a mark and an impact on our community. I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this project and now I know how much I enjoy spreading kindness and volunteering!” – Sofia Larens (Estonia/TX)
“In the beginning, the Kindness Cookies project annoyed me to the limits…Everything changed when I donated the cookies. Seeing the smiles of my fellow students eating brownies to reduce the emotions before the Christmas concert; the sweetest, elderly lady, politely asking If she can have one Polish ‘pierniczek’ “to make her week sweet” in the nursing home; and observing my host-dad suspiciously wandering around the table with plates of cookies and then listening to him complaining about breaking his strict diet. All of these stories not only made my Christmas days, but made the effort totally worthy and created memories I’ll always think about with a smile.” – Kacper Malinowski (Poland/IA)
“My major highlight of December would be the kindness cookies project. I had a lot of fun baking them with my family. However, nothing tops the happiness I got after handing them to homeless people. they appreciated our little kind gesture a lot and I was really happy to put a smile on their face.” – Ashfaque Ferdous (Bangladesh/TX)
“My participation in the Kindness Cookies Project showed me that even small gifts like donating cookies can make a huge difference in someone else’s life. I’ve learned that big changes in our community do not always need big actions.” – Aniela Kuzawinska (Poland/CA)
Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Kindness Cookies Project and contributed to its success. We look forward to spreading kindness through cookies once again next year.