On June 9, freshmen attending orientation walked nervously around the Pegasus Ballroom, looking over the possibilities of clubs to join next fall. Students often grinned ear to ear at the thought of a club entirely designated to random acts of kindness.
“The candy lures them in, but the purpose keeps them around,” said Crystal Long, vice president of Happy Knights, with a laugh.
The Happy Knights club, which aims to promote overall happiness around UCF, attracted new students with its positive outlook and engaging presentation. Not only did new students find inspiration, but club members were also reinvigorated.
“With more people, we can do bigger things and make a bigger impact,” said Omari Stringer, treasurer of Happy Knights. “I feel renewed from this event. We are fulfilling the purpose of the club by making people happy.”
Stringer and Long are both senior psychology majors and were the faces representing the Happy Knights club at freshman orientation. They provided candy, information about becoming involved and life tips for students seeking advice. Stringer said he found life tips online, and they inspired him to make a few changes, cut them up and share them with newcomers.
Unlike many clubs, the Happy Knights club immediately involved students in their presentation. Whiteboards and red and purple dry erase markers were provided so everyone could have a turn to share their thoughts. Students were given a chance to write down their major and what they were looking forward to the most about UCF, often catching the eyes of their peers and inspiring them to participate.
Throughout the school year, the organization creates themed events inspired by holidays such as Halloween, handing out candy paired with a joke that is simultaneously spooky and cheesy. They also set out a table during finals week for students to find stress relief by playing games, coloring, blowing bubbles and popping bubble wrap.
One of the club’s most popular events was handing out balloons with compliments attached to the ends. The organization plans to make this an annual event, since it not only spreads positivity but also promotes the club whenever students became curious about where all the balloons are coming from.
The president of Happy Knights, junior digital media major Lexis Choi, is hoping to create a new event with a photo booth, where students can use props and pose with their friends. She wants the organization to use a Polaroid camera, so students can take the photograph with them as a memory.
“We try to create an inviting environment, so when students come they feel relaxed,” Choi said. “We had one guy come up, and he was interested in the club and shared his own ideas of random acts of kindness. He would offer students on a rainy day help with an umbrella to class.”
The Happy Knights are planning on hosting a welcome-back-to-school event in August. The club expects membership to increase with new students that showed interest from orientation. The club’s officers said this would be beneficial, since last year they did not have as many members as they would have preferred.
Despite last year’s low membership, the clubs officers remain positive that any smile makes a difference on campus.
“Smiles are contagious, so even if someone is not directly benefited, it can serve as a butterfly effect,” Stringer said. “It can spread happiness and will exponentially grow with who they come in contact with. I like to think we make a small impact, and any sort of impact makes me really happy.”
Delanee Bogan is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.