Kimberly McGill Pratt still tears up when she talks about her dad, Ralph McGill, who passed away in the summer of 2018. He helped lead the incorporation of Farragut and served as mayor for nine years after retiring from ORNL.
Last year, in an effort to celebrate her dad on his birthday, she came up with Random Acts for Ralph — a day to surprise others with random acts of kindness. A Facebook event page included a printable note explaining the inspiration behind the special day, and participants were asked to share the note, which encouraged recipients of kindness to pass it on.
“It was really inspiring and helped me with the grief process. It helped turn a negative into a positive,” she says.
Kimberly enjoyed the special day so much that she’s doing it again. The second annual Random Acts for Ralph is Tuesday, Feb. 4. The Facebook event page is here.
Last year, several participants described their experiences on the event page. They made large gestures, like cooking meals for neighbors or donating professional services, and showed small kindnesses, like letting others get in front of them in line. Some recipients shared photos of the notes they’d received and shared stories of passing on acts of service.
Kimberly planned random acts of her own and helped her three daughters think of ways to surprise their friends and teachers. She was initially disappointed when she offered to pay for the food of the driver behind her in a fast-food drive-through, and the driver only ordered a drink. But the recipient was so excited that she took Kimberly’s note to a youth sports event and had several people sign it. Then she found the Facebook event and shared a photo of the signed note.
One reason Kimberly chose random acts of kindness as a tribute to her dad is that he loved surprises. The note she passes out shares the story of Ralph giving a surprise Christmas gift each year after all the other gifts were opened. But he was also a practical joker. She remembers evenings when her mother, Marianne McGill, a Farragut alderman, attended meetings and left Ralph at home with the kids. Kimberly and her brother knew they were in for some excitement when their dad would vanish. She remembers him hiding in closets, playing dead and even locking them out of the house while they were looking for him.
“He was always trying to get a rise or a laugh,” she says.
She has a few new ideas for this year’s Random Acts for Ralph. One is to purchase a Walmart gift card and give it to a clerk, who can then pass it on to an unsuspecting customer. Whatever she does, she’ll be thinking of her father and his generous nature.
“I know he’d be really proud,” she says. “He’d be happy that we’re carrying on his spirit in that way.”
This Tuesday, I encourage readers to take a few minutes to remember one of Farragut’s founders by performing a random act of kindness. Ralph would love it.
Town of Farragut marketing and public relations coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut Insider.