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NekNominate: Binge drinking game inspires random acts of kindness

By Daisy Carrington, for CNN
updated 5:33 AM EST, Fri March 7, 2014
  • South Africans are using the NekNominate drinking game to do good deeds
  • Brent Lindeque started the trend by posting a video of himself feeding a homeless man
  • Ashley Hayes NekNominated South Africa to help his neighbor rebuild her home

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(CNN) -- By now, both the rules and deadly consequences of NekNominate -- the online drinking game of one-upmanship that has already resulted in at least five deaths -- have gone viral. The game has players sharing videos of themselves downing boozy concoctions, usually mixed with something daringly repulsive, and challenging their friends to top the result.

In recent weeks, a new version of NekNominate has started to make the rounds, this one inviting people to do an act of good will. It has gone under many headers; some folks have reappropriated NekNominate, others call it RAKNominate (for Random Acts of Kindness). The charity-driven trend originated in South Africa, where a handful of people horrified by the drinking game decided to give it a new slant.

One of those who started the trend was Brent Lindeque, a brand activation specialist who was NekNominated by a friend. Rather than getting drunk, he decided to use his nomination to feed a homeless person.

"I'd only viewed two [NekNominate] videos. One was of a gentleman from England urinating into a cup. He added beer and drank it all down. The second was of an aggressive man who bit the head off a chicken -- a baby chicken -- and swallowed it before he drank his beer. I couldn't understand why people were putting something so ridiculous online," he recalls.

"When I was NekNominated, I wanted to do something different that could be filtered into my circle of friends. If I fed one person, hopefully the people I NekNominated would do the same," he adds.

He didn't imagine the video would get much traction beyond his circle. He was wrong. Since posting it on YouTube last month, Lindeque's video has garnered over 755,000 views. He has also attracted an additional 7,000 Twitter followers. He has since used the video as a launchpad for a social media campaign (#changeonething), a weekly radio segment and, perhaps soon, a charity foundation.

"The foundation will hopefully go live in March. It's kind of a dating site for charities, where they can have a profile and list their needs on a micro level," he explains.

So far, thousands have been inspired by his video (he estimates that he has already received over 100,000 emails from people who have continued what he started). Big brands, including Nandos and South African Breweries, have also followed suit.

"One beautiful story I was sent was from a man in England who went into a grocery store and bought a bunch of food. He saw a homeless man and gave him the food, then asked him to hold the camera while he took off a jacket his father had given to him and gave it to the man," he recalls.

The movement has struck a particular chord in South Africa, where others, oblivious to Lindeque's efforts, have taken a similar stance with NekNominations. Ashton Hayes, a digital marketing strategist, decided to use the concept to help rebuild his neighbor's house after a fire incinerated the roof.

"The fire happened in December, and by January, nothing had been done. There were a few funds that had been raised, but not enough to repair the roof, which had burned. That's when the idea came to NekNominate and help her out that way," he recalls.

He created a video profiling his neighbor, Elizabeth, who also looks after 14 orphaned children in her Cape Town home. At the end, he NekNominated all of South Africa to do their part. In two days, he'd raised the required funds -- $4,000.

One of the most touching stories he heard was of a 10-year old boy who donated the money he was saving to buy a Lego set to help Elizabeth rebuild her home. Local store Builders Warehouse was also nominated to chip in, and they responded by donating the tools to get the job done.

"The reason this works so well in South Africa is because there's so much need for this sort of thing," Hayes speculates.

"People here are looking for ways to help out, and the answers aren't always right in front of them. This gives them an excuse, and there's also a sense of urgency about it, because they have to complete the nominations within 24 hours," he says.

Read: Flying eye hospital helps blind to see

Read: Cape Town's 'slave' carnival

Read: Township girl turned opera diva

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