Printed on: January 17, 2013

Rexburg lawmaker urges acts of kindness

By Melissa Davlin
Twin Falls Times-News

BOISE -- A quiet wave of kindness is sweeping through the Idaho Statehouse.

Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, is asking friends and colleagues to perform 37 small acts of kindness in memory of his son, Ritchie Hill.

Ritchie Hill died in 2004, shortly after his 28th birthday. Hill, a nonsmoker, succumbed to lung cancer, leaving behind a wife and three children.

Since then, his family has commemorated Hill's Jan. 27 birthday together, with Ritchie Hill's brothers joining Sen. Hill and his wife in Boise.

The celebration often focuses on acts of service, Hill said in a Wednesday interview.

This year, the other children couldn't make the trip, so Hill's wife came up with the 37 acts. His son would have been 37 this year, Hill said.

"Ritchie was known for helping others and loved reaching out to those in need," Hill wrote in a Facebook post. "It would be a great way to celebrate a life worth celebrating."

The individual acts of kindness don't have to change the world, Hill said. The family is focusing on small acts throughout their neighborhood, such as making a blanket for a neighbor who also lost his son.

"They're not big things," Hill said.

Others replied to Hill's online request with service ideas of their own.

One person donated coats; another shoveled a neighbor's driveway.

Multiple legislators commented on or "liked" the post.

Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, wrote online that the plan was a "great tribute."

Hagedorn said Wednesday that he liked the idea of service for the sake of service, not for accolades or attention. That's the whole spirit of Hill's request, Hagedorn said, and a good reminder that everyone could be more kind.

Hill was touched by the response and outpouring of love for his son.

"It's very gratifying to know that people still remember him," Hill said.