12 Miles Up wants Virgin Islands youth to help themselves by helping others. With its Random Acts of Kindness competition, 12 Miles Up encourages students to reach out into the community for a chance to win $100 Cost U Less gift cards for groceries. The nonprofit organization on St. Thomas is focused on activating the power of youth voice and youth culture to create positive change in the USVI.

COVID-19 has impacted the USVI community both financially and emotionally. With families suffering financial setbacks because of the pandemic, many students in the USVI have struggled to eat regularly and to eat healthily.

The Random Acts of Kindness competition, funded by the Feuerzeig Family Fund at the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, started this week. It is designed to give students from Charlotte Amalie High School and Ivanna Eudora Kean High School a chance to win groceries to help their families during this difficult time each week through May.

12 Miles Up founder Monique Schmidt feels that it is important to not only take care of a basic physical need, nourishment, of students during this crisis, but it is also valuable to uplift the students emotionally by allowing them to channel their abundant creativity to better their communities. Schmidt wants USVI students to see that their positive contributions to their communities are appreciated. Underlying the program is the belief that one small act of kindness can have a profound impact on both the recipient and the giver.

“I was thinking about our students and how they are struggling, so I wanted to do something to lift their spirits,” said Schmidt. “I always find it fun to put a smile on someone’s face. It doesn’t cost any money, they can do it with COVID-19 safety in mind and have fun at the same time. Our students have so much creativity, and I think they can come up with some awesome projects.”

For the Random Acts of Kindness competition, students must complete and document, through photos/videos, five random acts of kindness for one week and submit entries by Friday at 8 p.m. Staff at 12 Miles Up will choose the best five student entries per week to receive gift cards. Entries will be judged based on authenticity/genuineness, creativity/originality and properly documented/submitted on time. Winners for the week will be announced on Sunday. Entries should be sent to 12milesupusvi@gmail.com. For full guidelines, visit the 12 Miles Up USVI Facebook page.