This year, my resolution is not what I will or will not do for myself, it is about what I will do for others. I am going to extend my birthday celebration (see below) and do at least one random act of kindness every week in the year 2013. I will be posting weekly about my “Acts”. If you are inspired by my resolution/birthday celebration, please leave a comment to share with me your acts of kindness.
I’ve decided to share how I celebrated my birthday this year. I set out to do one random act of kindness for every year of my life during the month of October. My dad teased that they weren’t really random acts because I had them all planned out but to the recipient they were random and unexpected. I looked online and found a ton of different lists but many of them involved lots of money. I don’t have lots of money so I came up with my own list that I could afford. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to make someone smile! I also did not add on my list the things that people should do everyday like let someone that only has 1 item go in front of you at the grocery or let the merging car over on the expressway. The things on my list are all simple things that will let the recipient know that he/she is appreciated, thought of and loved even if you don’t know them! One of my “acts” took up quite a bit of my time, so I am just now finishing up all 32! I plan on continuing a lot of these throughout the year. Hopefully, you will be inspired to do one or two also!
1, 2 & 3. Pumpkin bath puffs: I turned orange bath puffs into pumpkins for Jaelle’s teacher, assistant and the bus monitor that works in her room. I tied a little note on it that said “Happy Fall!” She was so excited to take them into them.
4. Donated baby food: I dropped off a bag full of baby food and baby cereal left over from Jenna to a residential rehab facility for mothers of infants.
5. Donated animal food: I can not resist a good clearance sale – even if I have absolutely no need for the item…like cat food. We don’t have a cat! But it was only 10¢ a can, so I bought $3 worth. It sat around my house for a couple weeks. We moved it from place to place to get it out of the way (under a cabinet, on the dryer, in a closet). Finally I bagged it all up and put it next to the front door. I planned on taking it to the animal shelter the next morning on my way to work. The next morning, the bags were gone! My husband took to work to give to a friend that has several cats. Oh well, cats fed – good deed done!
6. Money on vending machine: I secretly taped 50¢ to the vending machine at work with one of the RAOK cards that I found at http://thumba-lea.blogspot.com/2011/10/28-acts-of-kindness.html Hope the recipient enjoyed!
7, 8 & 9. “Have a sweet day!” treat bags: Right when all the Halloween candy hit the stores, I loaded up! I bought about 6 different types of candy and divided it all up into 5 baggies. I taped a note on the top that read “Have a sweet day!” My husband swiped one of the bags and I decided to keep one in the car for the girls if they needed a little distraction from time to time, so I actually only ended up giving 3 of the baggies away. I slipped them on the desks of a few of our office administrators at work while they weren’t around.
10, 11 & 12. Hide bubbles at the park: I bought a pack of three bubbles at Dollar Tree to hide at the park for kids to find as they played. Jaelle was too excited though, she ended up passed them out to children as she played.
13 & 14. Lottery tickets on someone’s windshield: I bought 2 dollar scratch-offs at the gas station and then placed them on the windshields of 2 different cars later that day at Wal-mart.
15. Donate blood: I went to www.redcross.org to schedule my donation for the day after my birthday. I will be good to go again in 3 months. It only took a few minutes of my life and could save someone else’s.
16 & 17. Hide dollars at the dollar store: I hid two dollar bills in the toy section at Dollar Tree on separate occasions. One poking out between two “Barbie dolls” and another one partially hidden under a cowboy hat. Imagine how excited some young child is who finds that dollar and can buy anything they want!
18. Deliver flowers: I bought some carnations and arranged them in a dollar store vase. I added a bow and one of the RAOK cards and they were ready to go. I took them to a nursing home that I pass everyday on my way to work. I asked the lady at the desk to give them to a resident that doesn’t get many visitors or is just having a rough day.
19. Pay for the person after me in the drive thru: This one involved a little eavesdropping. I wanted to pay for the next order after me, but we are on a budget, so I had to make sure they weren’t ordering breakfast for a family of five. So I listened in on the person who ordered after me. A #3…I could handle that. However, McDonalds has the 2 lane drive thru that not everyone has figured out yet. The lady that ordered after me, actually pulled in front of me. Oh, well, her loss, huh? So I pulled up to the window and paid for mine and with my fingers crossed (praying that it wasn’t the guy behind me’s turn to buy breakfast for the whole office) told the lady at the register that I would also like to pay for the next person in the drive-thru. I asked her if she could give him the RAOK card to which she agreed. I peeked in the rear view mirror as he read the card, smiled and began waving to me.
20. Halloween Costume Drive: Halloween is my favorite holiday. Everyone really gets into the “giving spirit” for Thanksgiving and Christmas so I figured I would jump start it and start in October. Many children do not have the opportunity to dress up on Halloween because of their family and/or living situations. These kids desperately need the chance to escape their reality and live in a fantasy world for just a couple of hours. I hosted my 1st Annual Halloween Costume Drive. I got enough donations of new and used costumes and accessories to give 87 children the opportunity to dress up on Halloween. I was able to give 100% of the children residing at Freedom House a costume and gave House of Ruth many costumes and accessories for the young clients attending their Halloween party.
21. Cedar Lake Lodge donation: I scheduled a donation pick-up through Cedar Lake Lodge. I have a ton of stuff collected in the attic just waiting for the yard sale that I have never planned. My husband teases that if I put one more thing up there that the whole ceiling is going to cave in. I figured I would donate some of it and help a good organization before I proved him right. The night before my scheduled pick-up, which I had completely forgotten about, I rushed around the house to fill up my donation bag. The girls were already asleep so I didn’t want to risk waking them up by getting up into the attic. I found some clothes that don’t fit, some that I didn’t like, shoes that pinched my toes, a photo album and lots of miscellaneous things laying around cluttering up my house. I filled up an entire garbage bag in less than ten minutes. I am definitely doing this often – help a great organization and de-clutter at the same time! Doesn’t get much better than that!
22, 23, 24, 25 & 26. Letters to loved ones: My family members had told me how proud they were of me for doing all of these acts of kindness so I decided to let them know that I wouldn’t be who I am without all of their love and support. I wrote my Mom, Dad, Aunt, brother and husband a letter explaining reasons why I love them. The reasons totaled 32!
27. Letter to an educator who made a difference: I always had a horrible time with Math in school. When I got into college level algebra, I failed the same class multiple times. I finally came across, we’ll call her, Mrs. B. She had a way of explaining the content to me that I finally understood it! I passed that class with an A! Then went on to pass the next level with an A also! I looked her up on the college directory and sent her an email. Several years after the fact, but told her how good she is at what she does and that I appreciated her gift as a teacher. She wrote me back and expressed her gratitude to me for sharing with her what she meant to me. She stated that comments like mine “keep me going in an often very stressful, busy and thankless profession.”
28. Road Trip bags: Anybody that has ever been on a road trip with very young children, knows how difficult it can be. I knew a mother that was heading to Florida with her 4 year old and 2 year old so I decided to make them each a road trip bag. It was very last minute but every little “distraction” is helpful when in the car for 10 hours! I filled 2 large zip-lock baggies with stickers, paper, crayons, printable road trip BINGO cards from www.granvillehouse.blogspot.com and a small snack. I also made a visual “Are we there yet?” timeline for them. This worked wonders for my girls on our last 16 hour trip so I thought I would pass it on. I printed out a picture of a car similar to theirs, taped their pictures in the windows, poked two holes (one in the front and one in the back of the car) and put a long piece of yarn in the holes. I explained to the mom to tape the yarn up across the ceiling of their car and slide the “car” over a little bit at a time throughout the trip. The kids would visually see how far they have come and far they still need to travel.
29. Donated food: We had boxes at work for Dare to Care food bank so I took in some canned food that I had in the pantry. I went through the pantry and pulled out things that we never get around to using like chicken broth, condensed soups and Chef Boyardee (my girls just aren’t fans).
30. Gift Card: While getting our own peppermint hot chocolate, I thought I would pick up a gift card as well for someone else to get a hot chocolate. I got a cute gift card with a picture of a hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and put $5 on the card. I attached the RAOK card set off one morning on the way to take the girls to schools, to find someone that looked cold. We ended up giving it to the crossing guard in front of Jaelle’s school. We thanked her for keeping the kids safe and told her to enjoy some hot chocolate on us after she finished work that freezing cold morning. She was very grateful and shivering!
31. Donate stuffed animals to the fire department to give to traumatized children: The girls somehow accumulate stuffed animals faster than I can blink and they never play with them! So I bagged them up, keeping ones that have meaning or given to them at special times, to give to the fire department. I really wanted them to go to children who needed comfort. I talked to a friend who works closely with the fire dept and she told me that they do keep some on the truck to give to traumatized children. She also told me that the Auxiliary takes them to nursing homes to pass out! Double score!
32. Take coloring books and crayons to the ER at Kosair: I bought some coloring books at the dollar store and had a nice stash of crayons left over from the beginning of the school year buy-out. I taped a pack of crayons to the coloring book, tied a ribbon around it and added a note that said “Hope you feel better soon!” I dropped them off at Kosiar Emergency Department for them to give to children who are waiting to be called back or to children that were back in the rooms. When you have a little one that is sick or hurting, every little distraction away from the pain is worth a try.