Johannesburg - David Masinter is on a mission. He’s holding a little yellow ark in his hand, a piggy bank if you like, that looks like the toy version of the one that took Noah and his family - and all the animals two-by-two - to safety during the biblical flood.
Masinter wants you to fill it with the coins you might otherwise throw out. When the ark is full, he wants you to give it away.
Masinter is a rabbi, director of Chabad House Miracle Drive, a Jewish outreach organisation headquartered in Savoy Estate, Joburg.
The ark, which is also an acronym for Acts of Random Kindness, is being manufactured at the moment - 57 500 of them in fact. They will be ready in about a fortnight, just in time for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year of 5750. Masinter, though, was aiming big this year, so he multiplied the number by 10.
He has given out arks before, but always within the South African Jewish community. This year, he’s going secular.
“They’ll be in participating shops and businesses. All that we ask is that you take one home, fill it up, and when it’s full of coins, give it to someone you think might need it - anyone! The only instruction is we don’t want to see it again once you’ve taken it.”
Masinter is a believer in people’s overwhelming humaneness and compassion, and he hopes the little yellow arks will help kick-start and channel this.
“There’s a teaching that if someone does bad, speaks it or even thinks it, a negative energy is created.
“On the other hand, if one does good, speaks good or even just thinks good, a positive energy is created. So we’ve made these arks.
“All we’re hoping to accomplish is increased acts of goodness and kindness. It can change the world for good.”
Chabad House, under Masinter’s direction, has been involved in a number of other charity and empowerment ventures over the years - from creating shoeshine franchises in shopping centres for people who would otherwise be unemployed, to opening libraries in townships to foster literacy and encourage entrepreneurship through books that Masinter has penned himself.
By the end of next year, Chabad hopes to have established 20 libraries - and encouraged countless children to grow their own food gardens in the process.
Your old clothes are another person’s treasure. And so it is with the small change in your pocket.
Grab an ark and fill it with the coins left in your wallet, in your drawer or in your car - and when the little plastic container is full, give it to someone who needs it.
* If you would like to help distribute the arks, e-mail Masinter at [email protected]