Random acts of kindness can reach all groups of people. You are able to affect those closest to you, friends and family, people you may never meet or see affected by this, or even people who may never be able to return the favor. In week 27, we are going to focus on helping those with kindness who are not able to help you.
The homeless are often those who are overlooked and could really benefit from your random acts of kindness. Really step out of your comfort zone and interact with them. This interaction could be as simple as a “Good morning” as you walk by them on your way to work, or if you are standing with them at a bus stop, ask them how they are doing. Something as simple as a conversion says you know they are not invisible. You might be surprised by the stories they share!
I tend not to give money to those in need that ask for money on the street corner. You never know what that money could be used for and it might not be helping them at all. There are some people who are not as truthful about their situation as it appears. A friend of mine sat down and had a long conversation with one of her local homeless resident and it turned out he wasn’t homeless at all, but takes the role of it and people give him money. It’s ironic because people give the homeless money to feel good about themselves, never questioning what giving them money will really do. If you are going to give money, find your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen to donate to. In my opinion, the people who frequent these places are attempting to turn their lives around and the organizations need your help to help others who really need help.
Personally, if there is someone outside of a grocery store and I am heading in, I’ll come out with an extra sandwich for them. Then at least I know they won’t be hungry and I have done what I can, knowing my money has gone to a good and positive resource. I once talked to someone who gives out chocolate bars instead of cash. She has her car stocked. I love this idea.
Don’t feel like you can help? Are you getting coffee this morning? Then you have the ability to get a coffee or a sandwich for the person standing outside who doesn’t have the means to buy their own.
Help someone who may never be able to return the favor to you, but know what goes around, comes around in some way or another.
These next four weeks may just be my favorite four weeks of the whole year to write about. That’s because for the next four weeks we will be having a theme of RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS! There is nothing better than that feeling when you do something nice for someone who can’t repay you. It’s like being a secret happiness agent. This theme incorporates all of my hopes and dreams for this 52 Weeks of Good campaign. Looking at the little things we can do every day to make a difference and random acts of kindness are pieces we can easily incorporate into our lives everyday!
For week 25 we will explore the idea of starting a random acts of kindness chain effect, starting with you! This is where you can take public opportunities to do something nice for someone and hope that they start the trend.
Here are 5 great ideas to get you started!
- Buy coffee for the person in line behind you. If no one is there, give the barista $5 to pay for the person after you.
- Talk with a homeless person. So many people walk past them and don’t even give them the time of day. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, just a simple hi, a smile and how is your day going? If you have a snack, share it with them. You will make their day better and hopefully inspire those who pass by to do the same.
- Give a stranger a compliment. It is always so unexpected and makes them feel great. With their brightened mood they will be sure to pass on their new found happiness.
- Leave a note on someone’s car (looking like a ticket under their wind shield wiper), but write a really positive comment on the paper. Wish them a good day and encouraging them to pass it along to spread the joy.
- Leave $20 with the cashier (at a grocery store, or a second hand clothing or furniture store) and ask them to use it on whomever they think could use the extra help. This gives the store clerk a chance to be part of the good. You might not only be making the receiver of the money’s day, but could be helping them with their months worth of groceries or new clothes for their kids.
I will leave you with this little video on a different perspective of security cameras:
What are your ideas for starting the kindness chain effect?
Part of being aware about those around you is to know what is happening in your communities (the good and the not so great). It is easy to say that you’re not doing anything about the issues in your communities because you don’t know what is going on, but let’s be honest, that is just an excuse. How easy it is to see a problem and not do anything about it because you don’t know where to find the solution or you just hope someone else will fix it. How many times have you driven around that pot hole? You’ve assumed someone has called it in, but chances are, everyone else is thinking the same thing as you. The same goes for how much trash you see on the street, homeless people you walk by begging for your spare change and the amount of graffiti defacing the city walls.
It’s time to step-up and start to learn more about what goes on in your area. Attend village, town, or city meetings. Get on the email lists of the neighborhood news. Learn about what the local non-profits are doing to try to improve your area and figure out ways you can help them. You don’t always have to donate your time or money to a non-profit (although, if you can, it is a HUGE help to them as most non-profits couldn’t run without the help of their volunteers). Sometimes a non-profit just needs some extra supplies to cut down on their admin costs or are looking for other types of donations. Sometimes learning about an organization and spreading the word about it to your friends could be a huge help. Maybe you don’t have the time, but your neighbor does and they would really like to get involved.
As important as it is to help those in need around the world, it is also important to make sure your community has what it needs to be a safe, healthy and sustainable.
Not sure how you can get involved? Here are a few resources that might help you get started:
Directory of charities and non-profits in your zip code: http://www2.guidestar.org/NonprofitDirectory.aspx
Seattle City Council: http://www.seattle.gov/council/ (don’t live in Seattle? Just google “City Council” and your city name)
Get Involved: http://www.getinvolved.gov/