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"Sir, can I sweep your floor?" asked Val Litwin, poking his head into Donair Town on Granville Street. A block behind him, Brad Stokes was using his last two dollars to buy a bemused gentleman a cup of coffee, while Christopher Bratseth tied a balloon to a motorist's antenna.

Random acts of kindness are hard to find on the streets of Canada's cities these days -- and these three young men are determined to do something about it.

Inspired in part by the book by Catherine Ryan Hyde, Pay It Forward (and the subsequent Hollywood movie, starring Kevin Spacey), the Victoria twentysomethings have embarked on the Extreme Kindness Tour -- a cross-country marathon that will take them to 28 cities and hamlets over the next three months. On a mission to better the world with spontaneous and outrageous acts of charity, they plan to dole out smiles and massages from dawn to dusk.

Armed with brooms and balloons, four friends -- Mr. Litwin, Mr. Stokes, Mr. Bratseth and Erik Hanson -- launched the tour in Vancouver yesterday morning, accosting perplexed strangers with hugs and positive messages.

"We hope to transform this into something larger and create something truly profound," Mr. Hanson explained at a news conference earlier in the day, which began with everyone standing up to hug the person next to them.

"Look around," Mr. Hanson urged the giggling assembly. "If the simplest thing we do is to make someone laugh, well that's a random act of kindness. Don't let it stop here. Spread it around."

Spurred on by the tragic events of Sept. 11 and dismayed by the nastiness of reality-based TV shows, the Kindness Crew developed a Web-based show of their own. They busted university students out of their exam rooms to go play in the parks and organized pancake breakfasts on the streets.

Word spread fast, thanks to several TV appearances, including a visit to CTV's Vicki Gabereau Show. Last April, the guys were invited to Salmon Arm, B.C., where they earned an entry in the Guinness Book of Records by conducting 17,000 random acts of kindness in one day.

Now they have several high-profile sponsors on board, including CHIP Hospitality, Visions Electronics, TELUS Mobility, Sole Custom Footbeds and Columbia Sportswear. The tour will be chronicled on the group's Web site, , and updated daily with anecdotes and video clips.

Reaction in Vancouver was overwhelmingly positive.

"There's not enough kindness in the world," shouted Peggy Davies, after she strolled out of the Country Pub at the St. Helen's Hotel to buy a pack of cigarettes and received a hug. "This is a great positive image for the kids."

It certainly can't hurt that these four givers of kindness are all very handsome athletic types, who sport sparkling white smiles, chiselled cheek bones and buff bodies.

Several members of the B.C. Lions football team, along with 19 staff members from the Residence Inn Marriott hotel, joined the crew for the day.

A battered-up Honda Accord screeched up to the colourful parade. "Hey, what's going on here?" the young driver asked. "Are you giving out foot massages?"

"No, but we can give you a shoe shine," said Lui Passaglia, the director of community relations for the Lions and former kicker for the team. "How about I wash your windshield?"

Linebacker Brent Johnson swore he wasn't there simply for a cheap excuse to approach women on the street.

"I'm here for the construction workers," he said, laughing.

The Kindness Crew later headed to a construction site to hand out juice and sandwiches, followed by visits to homeless shelters to deliver beds supplied by the Rotary Club of Canada, another sponsor.

Mr. Litwin says he and his friends have no ulterior motive, or desire to earn a profit from this venture. "We're in the business of people. Our currency is kindness."

He did note, however, that the project would lend itself naturally to a film or TV documentary.

The guys say they're not worried about kindness burnout. "This is incredibly rewarding work," Mr. Litwin said. "It creates a fuel and fire that burns inside you and keeps you going."

The Extreme Kindness Tour 2002 is scheduled to wind up in St. John's on Nov. 28.