I don't think we really need reasons to be kind, to do something for someone else. But I see people all the time talking about paying it forward, giving for the season, or helping others as a community project. When I was younger, in what seems like a completely different lifetime, I was in a really difficult place in my life. I had no money and hope wasn't very strong at times as well. Few people showed me much kindness, instead choosing to look at me and shake their heads instead. I felt their indifference.
I didn't want to wait until some magical day in my future life to start helping others, I needed to start right then. And I did, even if it was just donating toys back to needy children from my own children's room. Giving time was the easiest thing to do. I found that the elderly really enjoyed just talking and one of my favorites really enjoyed teaching me how to dance. I gave what I could, not to ask what they could give to me. But because it felt really good to do something nice for someone else.
Today, 20 years later I am in a completely different place and my efforts to be kind are a little wider. We have special charities we donate to regularly, we volunteer to help make casseroles for the homeless, and recently my focus has been on spreading the word about the need to raise more money for research to fight childhood cancers. But we can all do so much more in our day to day to make the lives of others better, for no other reason that it feels good to be kind.
The other day my husband and I were sitting in a Starbucks having a quick latte when a man and his two young daughters came in and sat down. I noticed the older daughter had her laptop and I helped her find a plug. My husband and I were both enjoying the warmth of the coffee and quiet time. But I couldn't help but to observe the family sitting on the long bench right next to us. The older father looked exhausted as he answered his youngest daughter's endless questions. “No, I don't have games on my phone. No, I don't have anything for you to do.” They were there just for the free wi-fi and his older daughter needed to finish a school project with a friend she was meeting there.
As I sipped my coffee the father and his younger daughter left. And I realized that the young girl and her friend who had met her were sitting there in a coffee shop with no money at all to enjoy something for themselves. The father had asked them if they had anything and both had answered no. I sat there for a few minutes after he left thinking about the situation. No, I didn't know what their financial situation was, and really it didn't matter to me. I got up, bought the girls a gift card for enough for both of them to have a drink and a snack. Then I went to them and simply handed it to them with a Merry Christmas.
The girls were so excited and thankful. The looks on their faces was the sweetest thing in the world. And really, it felt so nice to be able to surprise them with something nice.
As a woman, I am a little bit more skittish about rolling down my window and handing dollars to the homeless on the side of the road as my husband often does. But my daughter has grown up knowing that she should give when she can and has been known to tell her Daddy to go buy a nice looking homeless man breakfast at the closest and often most expensive delis just because he had a kind face. There's no reason we need to hand out granola bars to the homeless, but we do because it feels good to help.
I don't want my children to wait until they can afford to hand over a check to charity before they reach out a hand to help those in need. I love that my sons are the first to pull over their cars and help pull someone out of the snow, help when they see an accident, or wait with someone until a ride comes for them. It is the right thing to do, for no other reason.
Tell us about your random acts of kindness. We would love to hear about it! Did someone else do something nice for you and you wanted to share that? Do it!
- 35 Ways to Help the Homeless (ReBlog) (letlovemoveyou.wordpress.com)
- Donors chip in to help programs hurt by shutdown (bigstory.ap.org)
- 7-year-old donates nearly $14K to homeless for Christmas (ksl.com)
- Paying it Forward During the Holidays: Helping a Local Family Have a Brighter Christmas #ShowKindness (modernmami.com)
- Life lessons from the homeless (womeninspiringhope.wordpress.com)
- Act of Kindness Fuels Pay It Forward Day (wtok.com)
- Pay It Forward 🙂 (forgeonahead.wordpress.com)