For my birthday, I decided to start the next 25 years of my life off right. I wanted to spread some joy, send some smiles someone else’s way. I have been tremendously blessed in my years 0-25, and I wanted to share the joy! Below are my 26 Acts of Kindness (which I will carry with me always). I met some beautiful people and learned of some amazing organizations. I received some letters of thanks (which made me smile) but mostly… I was able to make a difference in a stranger’s day.
Since starting this project, I’ve received e-mails from people who have also completed kind acts! This brought me even more joy.
Thank you to everyone who helped me during this project, and thank you to everyone who has made my life so beautiful. I can’t wait for the next 25 years of my life! Here’s to Year 26! I’ll take it!
My 26 Acts of Kindness:
1. Ballet shoes: Purchased a gift card ($22.05) in the amount of a pair of ballet slippers and left the gift card with the store owner. The next time a dancer comes in to buy some ballet slippers… they’ll use the gift card! Now there’s another pair of ballet slippers out in the world. Let the hard work begin! Thank you to Ellman’s Dancewear for helping me with this project!
Update: I received an e-mail from the recipient of the gift card. She is a small business owner in Richmond, who has been struggling lately (so much so she will be forced to search for employment in January 2012). She said she walked into the dance supply store knowing she couldn’t afford the shoes, but needed them for her performance at church for the holidays.
2. Writing Journals: I sent writing journals (composition notebooks) and color pens to Richmond’s Full Circle Grief Center, an organization with trained grief counsels who work with children struggling with loss.
3. Coffee Needed: Paid for the car behind me in the Starbucks drive through (in honor of this stranger).
4. Tutu for a New Family: Bought a brand new family a gift card to Target and, of course, a little tutu for their baby girl.
5. Groceries for a Family in Need: Purchased a $5.00 box at Food Lion of pre-boxed food which will be given to a family in need. This so inspired the person behind me in line, that they purchased a box too!
6. Push and Pull: Helped the Food Lion employee push the carts back into the store.
7. One Roll of Tape: Bought a roll of tape ($3.49) and went to the Post Office to help people close up boxes and send gifts to their loved ones this season.
8. Holiday Greetings and Chocolate to Overcome Addiction: After speaking with the Executive Director about what the patients may need and want, I sent stationary (so they can write to their families) and chocolate candies (for a delicious treat) to Human Resources, Inc., a local non-profit organization offering substance abuse treatment to individuals suffering from opioid addiction, illicit substance addiction, cocaine abuse and alcohol abuse.
9. Book Inspiration: During my Kindness Project, I ran across the book You Changed My Life: Real Stories of Real People With Remarkable Hearts. In the book it says, “Kindness not only makes the coffee. Kindness says good morning.” I made the coffee and I said good morning (but mostly, I make a daily effort to be smiling, friendly and kind to my co-workers.)
10. Car Repair: After an unfortunate, minor accident I had to have some work done on my car (silver lining: this allowed me to drive a 2012 car for 2 weeks). On the day I went to pick it up, I brought the rental car guys and the repair guys some M & M’s! They were so happy, they opened them immediately with a huge smile.
11. Gave up my Perfect Parking Spot: I found THE perfect parking spot (in the midst of holiday shopping chaos). I moved on, and waved for the car behind me to take it.
12. Happy Hair: I gave a stranger a compliment on their hair (which was perfectly curled and made me green with envy!)
13. Water Bottle Relief: I brought a man on crutches some water, as he sat down to rest.
14. Feelin’ Good: I sent beauty products to female troops serving overseas. (I may have slipped some chocolate candies in there too, post-photo!)
15. Camp Items: I sent sharpie markers and little tubes of sunscreen for the children who participate in Comfort Zone Camp. A bereavement camp that gets kids out and moving in nature! I spoke with one of the volunteer coordinators for the camp, who went through the camp as a child after losing her father, and she said little gifts make huge differences, and the camp changes lives. I hope my small gifts help children have fun on their camp!
16. Surprise Moments: I wrote sticky notes, and left them on the driver side of cars parked at the busiest mall! Notes reading: “You are appreciated!” and “You are loved!” and “Stay amazing!” and “Your Dreams Will Come True!” and “Happy Holidays!” I’m hoping these happy notes will make some people smile!
17. Holiday Cheer: I sent holiday cards to a nursing home for residents who don’t receive holiday cards.
18. Cookie Delivery: I made cookies for my mailman!
19. “New” Clothes for someone: I donated barely used clothes to Goodwill.
20. Buying Time: I paid for a stranger’s parking meter.
21. Tortillas for Education: I donated $25 to Luz Idalia from San Lornezo, Honduras (via Kiva)! Luz is 36 years old and lives with her three daughters. She makes and sells tortillas for a living. She makes them in two shifts, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Her customers come to her every day (from Monday until Sunday). She will use her loan to buy supplies to make tortillas. At the moment, her clients’ orders have increased and she hasn’t been able to meet all of their demands because she needs more capital to be able to produce more. Luz Idalia’s goal is for her daughters to graduate from school.
22. Pizza Delicioso: I took a piping hot pizza to my local fire station. They work long, hard hours and risk their lives daily to keep our lives and our property safe.
23. Never forget to tell those you love that you love them: I reminded my family how much I love them (by an e-mail / card / hug / just saying it!)
24. Conversation: I sat and talked to a little girl for an hour while her parents worked. (Note: Her parents own a business next to the dance studio where I teach. They work 7 days a week, 10 hours a day. Since she is little, she stays where her parents work and occasionally comes by to visit). I learned about her school, her hobbies, her day, her ideas, her dreams.
25. Go ahead of me: I let someone go ahead of me in line at Target.
26. Playing Santa: I helped purchase some gifts for a family in Idaho (two young girls) who had a family member who was wounded in battle. (If you want to be involved, check out: Code of Support)
So what did I learn?
1. You don’t have to be rich to make someone’s life a little better.
2. There are beautiful people and organizations right here in my city.
3. People, regardless of who they are or where they are from or what language they speak, people appreciate kindness.
4. Kindness is infectious.
So go on. Spread some kindness. Show some love. Give some smiles this holiday season. You won’t regret it, and you’ll make someone’s day / life.
Happy Holidays all! And thank you for being a part of my life!