Back in December, a little kindness epidemic began to make its way around the country (and dare I say, world) in honor of the 26 (or 27 or 28) lives lost on 12-14-12 in the Sandy Hook. Google “26 (or 27 or 28) acts of kindness” and you’ll find page after page of results.
My college roommate, Tiffany, sent the idea around via email, and I had to participate. Tiff completed her 28 acts of kindness in record time. Seriously – probably 24 hours from the time she first laid eyes on the idea to her 28th good deed. I took more of the marathon approach and stretched out my good deed doing over a few weeks (which is ironic because it would probably take about the same span of time for me to travel 26+ miles by foot). Being on a pretty strict budget, I knew I couldn’t afford to spend a ton of money, and therefore committed to finding good deeds that were free or practically free. This caused me to pay more attention to the people around me and not be as focused on myself all the time.
Here they are – a recap of my effort to spread a little kindness.
1. While picking up my dinner at a local pizza place, I also paid the tab for the car behind me in the drive thru. I left a note with the person working the register, asking him to pass it on to that person. The note explained what I was doing, my reason for doing it, and encouraged the person to pay it forward.
2. When treating myself to a peppermint hot chocolate at Starbucks, I treated the person in line behind me as well.
3, 4, & 5. I bought three Walgreens gift cards and handed them out to (1) a lady perusing the card aisle (a fellow card lover deserved a gift card); (2) two guys who were there picking up a prescription (we pulled into the parking lot at the same time and they smiled at me and seemed very kind); (3) two kids who appeared to be brother and sister (maybe 13 years old and 8 years old?). (1) and (3) were very appreciative, (2) seemed a little confused – English may have been a second language there, so hopefully they understood better when they saw the note I wrote on the back of the gift card.
6. I rounded up all the stray carts in the parking lot at the neighborhood grocery store and walked them into the store.
7 & 8. There are two sweet people who help out at my house on a regular basis. I sent each of them an American Express gift card.
9. While driving, I noticed that a semi pulling a trailer with some heavy equipment on it had a tire that was practically flat. I jotted down the name of the company written on the truck and the VIN number on the door while beside them at a stoplight. Once back at the office, I Googled the phone number for the company, called, and wound up leaving a message giving the truck information and advising them to check that tire. Hopefully it prevented the driver from needing to change a flat on the side of the road or in some other unfortunate spot.
10. I paid for lunch for the person in the car behind me at the Wendy’s drive thru. (Geez. I spend a lot of time -and money- in drive thrus.) Asked the guy at the register to tell the person to pay it forward – and Happy New Year.
11. A lady I work with recently became engaged, and I gifted her with a wedding-planning-extraordinaire notebook. She was very excited and insisted that I’d made her day with the gift. And she made mine with her sweet appreciation.
12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 & 18. Mailed anonymous thank you cards to seven teachers. Teachers are critical to the future of this country. They teach, they protect, they comfort. They are cheerleaders and the fixers of boo-boos. They dry tears and they celebrate even the smallest of victories. On 12-14-12, a few of them lost their lives while (I hope) pursuing their passion for education and for children. Thank a teacher. I don’t think they hear it often enough.
19. I dropped a bag of lightly worn clothing and shoes off at a local community donation center.
20. In the parking lot of a local pet emporium, a lady was struggling to get three huge bags of pet food out of a shopping cart and into her car. They were wedged into the cart pretty tight, but between the two of us we managed to extract them (worked out the ol’ biceps too – winning). I bid her a good day and took the cart back to the store for her.
21. At the grocery store, I insisted that a person with fewer items go before me in the checkout line.
22. I donated money to the local animal humane shelter.
23. About a year ago, I blogged about the More Love Letters organization. I wish I could say that I’ve been religiously writing a letter to someone who needs a pick-me-up for the past year. But I haven’t. However, as one of my acts of kindness, I did for the month of January. And I’m going to work on doing so on a regular basis for 2013.
24. A family friend was recently diagnosed with cancer and will be going through a major surgery sometime in the next couple of weeks. I’m in the process of putting together a little care basket for her – magazines, tissues, fuzzy socks, chapstick, tea, hand lotion, etc. I haven’t delivered this yet, but have started acquiring the items for it, so I think it’s okay to include. Also, if you have any ideas of things that I should put in the basket, please share.
25. Following up to number 24, the spouse of the lady who will be having the surgery is going through a rough patch as well. I’m putting together a little something for him too. Again, haven’t presented it yet, but I’m going to go ahead and include in the list.
26, 27, & 28. Purchased three blankets and donated them to a local homeless shelter.
As I completed these acts of kindness, I found myself wondering about a few of them. Like the one where I let someone go ahead of me in the line at the grocery store. When did that stop being a common courtesy, part of my everyday life, and become an act of kindness that causes me to pat myself on the back for being such a good person? And how many times have I seen someone struggling to get bags out of a shopping cart and simply not paid attention? It wasn’t deliberate – I was just oblivious. I’m grateful for this project because it reminded me to look around and seek opportunities to do something little that could mean a lot to a fellow human being.
And I’m going to work toward keeping that awareness. Keeping the spirit of kindness alive in myself. I’d encourage you to do the same, if you’re not already.
What are some acts of kindness that you’ve shown others? What are some acts of kindness that others have shown you? Share your ideas of how to be kind! I’m over being oblivious.