Good Samaritan using TikTok treasure hunts to help Saskatoon businesses

A man started using his TikTok treasure hunts as a way to drum up some business in Saskatoon during uncertain times. File Photo / Getty Images

Paul Macalino wanted to give back to his community but wasn’t expecting the response he got when creating a treasure hunt on a winter day in Saskatoon.

He purchased a Keurig coffee maker with his own money, hid it in the Broadway area, posted a video on TikTok and then waited to see if people would look for it.

As of 7 p.m. on Thursday, his video had around 72,000 views.

Read more: Saskatoon students spreading holiday cheer to care homes with letters, Christmas cards

“It blew up … I was impressed. I was like, ‘man, if this does well, I’m going to keep doing it,’” he said.

“It’s just a random act of kindness that I just wanted to do. We’re in a difficult situation with everything going on right now. So trying to shine a light on something that we don’t usually do.

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“With COVID … it is difficult to do anything.”

The Saskatoon resident said the idea came from his time abroad.

“My background the last couple of years was I’d been living in Australia, so I was the tour guide, so I had to basically look for things to do for these people that I was touring and coming back home, I wanted to do the same thing,” Macalino said.

“Right now, travelling isn’t an option (due to COVID-19) … so basically (Wednesday) I was walking around and it was beautiful and I was like, ‘you know what? I’m going something different today.’

“The goal of this is for people to get out of their house. I know it’s tough. Winter here is, like, we just kind of stay at home and the goal is to try and inspire people to get outside and I mean, it worked, so I’m going to keep doing them.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Neighbourhood rinks prove integral to local communities during pandemic

His said his TikTok account, known by the name cookiesndream, strives to help highlight Saskatoon businesses that may be hurting during uncertain times.

“I wanted to put the item where there’s a lot of local businesses, so it drives traffic to their area as well because local businesses right now are struggling … just a little bit of help goes a long way,” Macalino said.

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“We need to support these local businesses. They’re who inspired me to do this. So hopefully, hopefully we can help them stay open and can survive all these things.”

The 28-year-old account manager said people have been reaching out to donate to help with his good deeds.

“There’s a lot of people that actually messaged me if they can donate, if they can chip in to it. And I said, ‘yes, you know what? Let’s do it.’ So they’ve dropped off a couple of gift cards to me and I’ve put them on there as well,” he said.

“I’ve always wanted to do this before and I think now is like the perfect time, trying to, like, uplift everybody’s spirits and Christmas is coming up as well.”

The Good Samaritan asks that people partaking in his treasure hunts follow all guidelines to protect against COVID-19.

“When I posted this, I had to consider what this could do. So my video always says, ‘please follow COVID guidelines.’ I don’t want people to just get in there and … (not) practice social distancing so I try to warn them,” Macalino said.

Click to play video 'Tinkles the Elf for hire returns to Saskatoon' Tinkles the Elf for hire returns to Saskatoon
Tinkles the Elf for hire returns to Saskatoon – Dec 15, 2020

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.