With the holidays right around the corner, Katherine Schwarzenegger is focused on the reason for the season.
The writer and actress, 30, teamed up with Aerie for the #AerieREAL Kind Hotline holiday campaign launching this Friday in honor of World Kindness Day. The initiative invites Aerie community members to call 1.844.KIND.365 through Dec. 25 to receive a special message about kindness for yourself, kindness for others, kindness for the world or kindness online from celebrity partners like Schwarzenegger, Storm Reid, Aly Raisman, Iskra and Tiff McFierce.
#AerieREAL Kind Hotline also touts an initiative entitled #AerieREAL Acts of Kindness where community members can nominate a friend, family member or significant other to receive a personalized holiday gift — courtesy of Aerie! — that helps pay kindness forward (registration is open now at ae.com). The #AerieREAL Kind Hotline campaign coincides with the launch of the brand's holiday 2020 collection available now in stores and at ae.com.
Speaking with PEOPLE exclusively, Schwarzenegger (a longtime Aerie partner) says she feels "really honored and lucky" to continuously work with a brand whose values align with her own — and take part in a holiday campaign focused on spreading positivity in the midst of an unprecedented 2020.
"Given the year that we've had and just in life in general, but especially given this year, we could all use a little bit more kindness in our day-to-day lives," she says. "There's never a shortage of needing kindness and just wanting to be able to sprinkle it everywhere. I think [the calls] will make a really big difference in people's days and that's my hope with it."
Schwarzenegger says her messages for callers will be similar to the ones she discussed in her most recent book, The Gift of Forgiveness: Inspiring Stories from Those Who Have Overcome the Unforgivable. She explains that she'll deliver wisdom about "the kindness that comes with being able to give someone the gift of forgiveness and the kindness that is then given to yourself in return."
But in the end, she says it's all about showing "the little things that you can do in your everyday life that are random acts of kindness that really change the course of strangers' days, of your friends' days and or your family's days."
With Thanksgiving fast-approaching, Schwarzenegger (who shares 3-month-old daughter Lyla Maria with husband Chris Pratt) says there's no better time to make little acts of kindness a priority, as the holiday season feels much less festive this year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
But despite the pandemic, protests and political unrest, the star says 2020 also brought an immense amount of happiness. "I became a mom and I had my daughter and that was incredibly exciting and obviously life changing for me," she shares. "It was and is the greatest role and joy of my life."
"I feel really blessed to have had that be the biggest part of my year and also a really exciting time in my family as well," Schwarzenegger says. "It's a challenging year for our country, for our world. So it's important to be able to be there for friends and family and listen and find silver linings when we can. Looking back on 2020, it had challenging times, but definitely the birth of my daughter is a big, big moment for me."
As for Schwarzenegger's holiday plans with Pratt and their daughter, she says things are still up in the air due to the fact that Los Angeles is "seeing a really big spike in [COVID-19] cases right now."
"I think we have to kind of wait to see it as we go along because the numbers and the situation of what's going on in the world seems to change every day. But obviously it'll look very different this year and I think it's going to look different for everybody this year," she says. "So it's figuring out what's the safest and most realistic way of being able to be together, but also being able to be safe. And then also focusing on what matters, which is just being able to be grateful for our health and for life and celebrate that."
"I'm a huge Christmas person. I've already started decorating for Christmas now. But I love the holiday season and I love Thanksgiving, but it's not about presents," she concludes. "It's just about people being around each other."
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