How to Perform 26 Random Acts of Kindness
On Friday, December 14, a shooter walked into Sandy Hook Elementary school and killed 20 innocent children and 6 staff members. I live less than 15 miles away, and all morning I received a continual stream of emails and texts regarding the police action going on at our local schools. It was a stressful time, and I received a lot of inaccurate information throughout the day. When I learned the inconceivably horrible truth about how many people were killed, especially the little children, I just couldn't stop crying. I knew I had to pull myself together and be strong when my children arrived home from school, along with several of their friends. One of these friends had an aunt who worked at the school, and later in the evening my son learned that another one of his friends lost a cousin in the tragedy.
I still break down every time I read another story about the bravery of the amazing staff members at the school or more details about the children who were lost. So many of us were - and still are - in shock over this horrible event, but what we experienced doesn't even compare to the terrible pain of the families of the 26 victims. I felt that I had to do something, no matter how small, to try to help the world remember these wonderful children and the brave adults; so I decided to perform 26 Random Acts of Kindness to help keep their memory alive.
What is a Random Act of Kindness?
A Random Act of Kindness is a selfless act that is done solely for the purpose of bringing a little unexpected joy to someone else, with the hope that it will inspire others to pass it on. It can be as simple as giving someone a smile, holding the door, or paying for another person's coffee in the line behind you. The goal is to make someone else happy and inspire them to spread kindness.
Why Perform 26 Random Acts of Kindness?
A friend that lost a child to cancer a few years ago posted a statement offering comfort that really resonated with me. He said that these parents have entered his world, and his advice was to never stop telling the stories that make everyone smile about your child. if you keep their spirit alive they will become immortal. I decided I could help keep the memory alive of these beautiful children and staff that lost their lives on that Friday morning by performing 26 random acts of kindness.
What Happened When I Performed 26 Random Acts of Kindness?
I decided to perform my first five random acts of kindness by giving out gift cards to Starbuck's. "Why Starbucks?" you might ask. "Why would you give something out to people who can obviously afford to buy 'luxury' drinks?" Well, my point is not to help poverty, or to give somebody a job, or any of a number of other worthy causes, because I work hard to eliminate poverty throughout the year. Instead, my goal is to surprise people with something unexpected yet kind, with the hope that they will remember the victims and maybe pass on a similar gesture in the memory of those lost in the Sandy Hook tragedy. Ideally, everybody I do something for would go out and perform 26 acts themselves, thus magnifying my efforts many times over.
As I entered Starbucks I was feeling both nervous and excited. I was nervous because I thought people might refuse to accept the gift cards, since they would probably assume I was selling something, passing out religious material, or maybe just crazy. I was excited because it was an opportunity to help make these beautiful children and brave teachers immortal, as well as an opportunity to make a complete stranger smile.
I had originally planned to give the gift cards to the first five people in line, but when I walked in with my heart pounding, I saw that not a single person was in line. That never happens at Starbucks when you actually want to get a coffee, but of course it happened now! I immediately shifted to plan B on the spot: I decided to hand the cards out to people sitting at the tables. I handed my first gift card along with a card providing an explanation to a father sitting with his young son. He looked very confused and I said "I'm just giving gift cards." After I gave cards to a few more very confused people, the father asked me if I wanted money for it. I smiled and said "No, Happy New Year." People seemed so surprised that I was just handing them a gift card with no strings attached.
I then raced out because I wasn't there to be thanked and my mission for my first five random acts of kindness were accomplished. As I walked out, I realized that I wish I could have seen everybody's reaction when they read the cards explaining the purpose of my visit. Because I'm a curious person, I'm going to have my husband go in 'undercover' before I give out my next five gift cards in New York City. It will be interesting to see if anyone is even willing to take the free cards from me in the Big Apple, since everybody is so suspicious. I'll update this article afterward to share the results.
I'm relieved my first experience was a success and I know that I'm helping to make the world a better place, and also helping to keep the memory alive of those lost in the Sandy Hook tragedy.I also feel braver, and expect that I'll be more excited than nervous during my next mission.
A random act of kindness doesn't have to cost a penny, but sometimes a small monetary donation can make a big difference. Here are just a few ideas:
Have you ever performed a random act of kindness?
Check out 26 Acts of Kindness - HOW You Can Make a Difference by Victoria Lynn for some great ideas for Random Acts of Kindness.
Random Acts of Kindness that Require a Nominal Amount of Money:
- Give someone a gift card
- Give free tickets to a few people at the movie theater
- Hand a subway pass to people entering the subway
- Send a care package to a soldier
- Pay the electric bill for a family in need
- Give coffee and donuts to road construction workers
- Give a care package and a hug to someone going through chemotherapy
- Drop off dinner to a family going through a difficult time
- Hand someone a lottery ticket
- Send a friend a card to let them know you are thinking of them
- Put coins in a meter
- Leave an extra big tip
Free Random Acts of Kindness:
- Hold the door for a stranger
- Offer a smile
- Visit a nursing home
- Give someone you know a hug
- Let someone go ahead of you in line
- Give a sincere compliment
- Mow a neighbor's lawn or rake their leaves
- Donate books, toys, or clothes
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen
- Give someone your seat on the train
- Take the time to really listen when an adult or child is talking to you
Have you done something kind for someone lately? Please take a few minutes out of your day and perform a random act of kindness in honor of these 26 angels to remind everyone that their time on earth has made the world a better place.