random acts of kindness anna nimmity

November is a month that reminds us to give thanks for all the blessings we have. Sometimes it’s easy to feel down about the things we don’t have or the things in life that we don’t think are going our way. I’ve found that when I feel this way, it’s best to turn the focus away from myself and think about someone else. So, in the spirit of building a more grateful heart this month I performed 22 Random Acts of Kindness, one for each day leading up to and including Thanksgiving. They were simple things that I hope made someone else smile. This idea was inspired by my friend Kate, who did this for her birthday. I wrote about her RAKs here.

Did you know that the Random Acts of Kindness movement started in my home town of Bakersfield, California? It was Dr. Chuck Wall, a professor at Bakersfield College {I went there for two years before graduating from UC Santa Barbara}, who was tired of hearing “random acts of senseless violence” on the news, so he assigned his class to go out and do random acts of senseless kindness and then write about it. The assignment was a huge success and the movement caught like wildfire. Now, almost twenty years later, his nonprofit organization is still very active promoting kindness. Click this link to read the story in his words.

Here’s the summary of the 22 RAKs. This was a great challenge, and I definitely got more out of it than the kindness recipients. It’s amazing how that works.

Day 1. Call a friend. I carved out a chunk of time and called an out-of-state friend who is going through something very difficult. We visited for a while and I ended by reminding my friend that he is loved. It’s always best to say that love stuff out loud. But only when it’s true.

Day 2. Give balls to dogs. Today I packed a backpack with a few dead tennis balls and threw them to all the dogs on my walking route. Some of the regulars weren’t out when I walked by, so I threw the balls into their yards. I was caught by one owner: right as I threw the ball to his dog he pulled into his driveway. I was trying to get a photo of his dog. I told the dog’s owner I was sharing tennis balls with all the dogs on my walk and he said his dog loves them, so feel free to share extra balls with her anytime. :)

Day 3. Donate clothes to Goodwill. We dropped off bags of clothes that we don’t wear anymore, hoping that someone else will find them useful.

Day 4. Compliment a stranger. I complimented the outfit of a total stranger in Target. I don’t normally strike up conversations with strangers. {You know, the whole introvert thing.} This girl’s outfit was really pretty and I saw her two or three times throughout the store before I made eye contact with her and said out loud what I was thinking: Your outfit is adorable!

Day 5. Donate blood. This is something that is truly giving a part of yourself. It’s a good thing to do every eight weeks. My goal is to be more consistent with my blood donations in 2013.

Day 6. Thank a volunteer. I personally thanked a volunteer who planned and executed a successful event for a local non-profit. I love to acknowledge the generosity of volunteers – I know they don’t do it for the glory or money, which makes them even more deserving of my kind words.

Day 7. Bring treats to great neighbors. I delivered Rice Krispy treats to our wonderful neighbors. It’s such a blessing to live close to good people.

Day 8. Clean up toilet paper. I’m glad this post is about random acts of kindness, because this one is really random. We pass a house on the way to school every day that gets toilet papered way more than your average teenager’s house. There are always bits of TP in their trees. I picked up a bag of TP from the gutter and lawn of this house to save the kids a little work this time.

Day 9. Give picture books to a younger family. I recently went through all of our books to make sure we’re only keeping books that we think we’ll read again. During that process, I found a lot of great picture books that we’ve outgrown, so I put them in a box to give to a family that has just started their kid’s book collection. I remember how much our kids LOVED books, so I hope these books will bring joy to another family now.

Day 10. Donate something handmade to a favorite charity. I donated a few embroidered scarves to the Plaid Door, a resale shop operated by the Junior League of Springfield, Missouri. The money raised by this non-profit is used for projects of the Junior League of Springfield, focusing on the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

Day 11. Wash someone’s car. Okay, the someone was my daughter. I washed her car for her. But it was still a random act of kindness because she is responsible for keeping the car up to her own standards of clean. {So it doesn’t get washed very often.} Of course it rained right after I washed it! It’s the thought that counts, right?

Day 12. Leave a kind comment on a blog post. It means the world to a blogger when you let them know that you took away something beneficial from their post. Leaving kind comments is one of my favorite things to do. {And one of my favorite things people do for me.}

Day 13. Give books to a teaching student. One of my friends is just about to finish her teaching credential. I gave her all the chapter books that my kids have outgrown so she can use them in her classroom library.

Day 14. Give someone else’s child a ride home from school. I can’t tell you how many times I was the beneficiary of this kindness when I was a working mom, and how much it helped me. I was happy to be able to help another mom by taking her child home from school.

Day 15. Take someone’s cart back into the store. I saw an older woman who was just finishing putting her groceries into her car, so I offered to take her cart, saving her the trouble of walking it down to the cart rack. People have done this for me before, and it was sweet and unexpected. It’s such a simple, easy thing to do. I was going in to the store anyway, and I needed a cart, so it was win-win.

Day 16. Leave coupons next to matching items at the store. Save someone else a little money.

Day 17. Help someone figure out modern technology. There was an older gentleman at the gas station who couldn’t figure out how to use his credit card at the pump. Things we take for granted when we live in the city aren’t as easy for someone who lives in the country and normally gets his gas from a mom and pop station where he goes into the store to pay.

Day 18. Thank teachers. I emailed my son’s teachers to thank them for their part in his education. It can’t be easy to be a teacher. We have teachers who go out of their way to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible. I appreciate them, so I let them know.

Day 19. Let a car change lanes. High school pick up/drop off is a mad house. It’s the most stressful place I’ve ever driven, and that includes the freeways of Los Angeles. I let someone out of line who had their blinker on while five or six cars went by and didn’t let them in. I know this seems minor, but it is always such a gift when someone does this for me, because like I already mentioned, that line is really stressful.

Day 20. Write a birthday note to a friend. I wished my friend a happy birthday, and told her that the world is a better place because she’s in it. It’s all true. I think she liked it.

Day 21. Compliment a young girl. This one ended up even better than I planned. I saw this girl, probably about 10 years old, who had the most adorably french braided hair that went back into a ponytail. She was wearing a stylish headband with her look. I told her I thought her hair looked awesome. She smiled and said a quiet thank you. This is where it got even better. Her mom told me that the girl had created the hairdo herself! So I got to be appropriately impressed with this girl’s talent and creativity. It’s nice to give compliments on appearance, but complimenting someone’s effort/hard work is even better. And to get to do both!?! Well that’s the best possible scenario.

Day 22. Wash dishes. I do this every year when I go to my sister’s house for Thanksgiving. After dinner, I start the process of washing all the dishes. With a huge crowd of people, and lots of things that can’t be put into a dishwasher, it would be a big project for a person to do alone, especially after all the work that went into hosting the dinner. It doesn’t take long before a few more people join in and the job is done. I love heading back to my house knowing that I’m not leaving her with a huge clean-up job.

To see the other posts in this series, click here.

Linking up to some of these fabulous parties:

Tip Junkie handmade projects The Shabby Nest I Heart Nap Timefive days five ways  feature friday free for all Today's Creative Blog Sugar Bee Crafts Photobucket Lil\'Luna The DIY DreamerSmart! School {House}Whipperberry ”Bowdabra
Poor and Gluten Free
Adorned From Above

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10 Responses to Giving Thanks: Random Acts of Kindness 2012

  1. Amanda Cabe says:

    I found you on a link up party from Navy Wife Peters, and I love your blog!! My blog is called The Sunshine Toker because I am always looking for the sunshine even in the darkest clouds! I love random acts of kindness. One I always like to do is pay the toll for the person behind me. I live in Atlanta and we have toll roads and traffic is horrible…I like to make someone’s day a little better by paying their way!! :) Great blog – following!!

    ~Amanda

    http://www.thesunshinetoker.com

  2. Rita says:

    I love all of you ideas for random acts of kindness. You are right in the fact that nothing makes you feel better than serving someone else! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Michelle Clark says:

    My eldest has had the hardest time growing up-accepting life as it is. People compliment her on her hair which is her own hairstyle, she cut it herself. She just beams. People don’t realize they have so much power in what they say, whether it’s good or bad.

    Next week is the first week of Advent, for us. The focus is on kindness. I was looking for something more in depth than just “Be kind to each other”. Thank you for this article! It will be great inspiration for our Advent season! Hopefully, we will be able to carry it into our daily lives.

    • Betsy says:

      Michelle, I think this is a perfect thing to do for Advent! It would be fun to share everyone’s RAK for the day at the dinner table each night. They could tell what they did, why they did it, and how they thought the recipient of the kindness felt about it. Now I want to do it, too! We have an Advent wreath on our table during the season and it would be fun to make sharing a RAK as much a part of the ritual as lighting a new candle each week. Thanks for the idea!

  4. BeckyCharms says:

    My daughter actually performed her very first random act of kindness on Wednesday! Thanks for the post.. it feels so good to cheer up someone’s day when it’s least expected! #passiton

  5. You are so talented!! We hope you will come back this week! Thanks so much for sharing at Wednesday’s Adorned From Above Blog Hop. This weeks party starts at 12:01AM on Wednesday and runs through Sunday night. Have a great week.
    Debi, Joye and Myrna (The Busy Bee’s), Linda (Two Succulent Sisters)

  6. Jen says:

    Hello! Great, great tips! Ive been trying to find good ones and I loved your ideas!! thank you for sharing! Hope you have a wonderful day! :)

    • Betsy says:

      Thank you, Jen! Every time I re-read this post I am reminded how easy it is to do something kind. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or a lot of time to make someone’s day better. Thanks for the sweet comment!

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