For me, 2018 began with a list of goals I wanted to achieve. Some were typical to anyone’s resolution list: lose weight, save money, take a vacation, and be more present. The biggest one, however, was to give back.
“A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money.”
– John Ruskin
Opportunities to complete acts of kindness are all around us. Sometimes, people spend so much time trying to figure out how to be kind, and they end up doing nothing. This happens a lot around the holidays. It’s a time when friends and family try to figure out a way to ward off guilt from commercialism of the holiday season and suggest doing something good for mankind or making a donation to a nonprofit.
Charitable giving around the holidays is wonderful, of course, but isn’t this something we should practice every day? Isn’t kindness and giving back an act that should be engrained in us as human beings? Let’s just be kind! Here are a few things my daughters and I have done to spread a little kindness throughout the Capital Region.
Given my line of work, I’m often asked about supporting nonprofits and the best way to do so. Another question I get is, “What do I do when I see a homeless person on the street asking for help?” – well, I have an idea for you. The girls and I created blessing bags to hand out when we see someone asking for help. Each bag is filled with several snacks, a pair of thick, warm socks, bandages, an Emergen-C® packet, and a bottle of water. We also included a note that says, “Thinking of you,” in each bag. The bag itself is a thick, full-size Ziploc® bag, which could easily be used again to hold any items the person may be carrying with them. We keep them in our car and hand them out when needed. We’ve been lucky that each person we have gifted a bag to has been thankful and told us how much those items would help.
My daughters’ reactions were priceless. Recently, Charlotte (my six year old), expressed herself by saying, “Mommy, every time we give out one of those bags I feel so good in my heart, but I also feel like I could cry.” I think that pretty much sums up how all charitable giving feels, little one.
Pass Along Your Luck
Last summer, I was fortunate enough to play in a charity golf tournament. As part of the fundraising that day, they were selling raffle tickets for over 80 prizes! As someone who often wins raffles, I took a chance, made the donation, and was entered to win. While I was not the winner of the Jet Blue® round trip flights or a long weekend at Mirror Lake Inn, I was the lucky winner of six $5 gift cards to Popeye’s®! After some discussion, the girls and I decided that while we could easily spend the certificates on buttery biscuits and sweet potato pie, it would be a great opportunity to hand out the gift cards to families coming to the restaurant to buy dinner. Easy. Rewarding. Kind.
Pay It Forward
One thing I try to do whenever I can is an act of kindness at the drive-through. This act was blessed upon me a long time ago at Dunkin’ Donuts®. I had ordered a coffee and muffin, and when I pulled up to pay, I was told the car in front of me paid my bill and told me to pay it forward. I was shocked and all day I was filled with so much joy. Yes, filled with joy after having a five dollar coffee/muffin combo paid for. But it wasn’t the savings that moved me, it was the act. I have paid that kindness forward too many times to count. Easy.
Another idea my family had was to visit the little vending machines that are filled with gum balls and toys when leaving the grocery store. This is one of those stops I always avoid as a parent. By the time we’re ready to leave, I’ve already said “yes” 20 times to my kids for the stuff they’ve asked for, I’m in a rush, and I have a grocery cart full of bags. Once we hit those machines, it’s always a “hard pass” from mom.
Their idea? Fill each machine with quarters so when other kids walk by with their “hard passing mom,” the money is already there! I loved this idea. It showed me that they were thinking of what would make them happy and how even the littlest people on this earth need kindness, too.
There are many ways to create your own kindness campaign and a number of great resources for ideas. There’s a kindness campaign Facebook group, plus websites that give you simple steps to help create change.
Honestly, you can start today! How about a smile? When walking down the street, or a hallway at work, look up and smile at the person walking toward you. It’s a pretty easy and affordable way to potentially brighten someone’s day.