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Random Acts of Kindness

Monday Adventures:  August 5th, 2013

Hands-down, this adventure was one of my favorites of the entire summer.  And I’m happy to report that I think it was for the kids too….

Back at the beginning of August, Henry, Anna and I spent an entire day doing “Random Acts of Kindness” in our community.  It was a way to say thank you.  A way to give, without getting something back.  A day, not only to think about all the things we were grateful for – which are often the things we most take for granted – but to also do something about it….

In planning for the day, I had come up with a long list of possible random acts.  Then, about a week before, Henry and Anna and I sat down together and talked about this adventure.  After long deliberations, they helped me narrow down our list to the top 20.  Initially, it took a little while for the kids to understand exactly what we were doing, and why.  But once they “got it,” it really clicked.  They were as excited for this adventure, as for any of our others.

Since most of our random acts would be anonymous, we wanted to let people know why they were finding bubbles at the park or a gift card on their windshield.  So I created cards to include with all of our acts. Our hope was that in receiving the kindness and the card, the recipient would in turn, pass on another kindness (however simple or small) to someone else.

When our Monday arrived, we spent the morning getting everything ready to go – – which I must admit, ended up being a feat unto itself.  But finally, by mid-morning, our mini-van was loaded and we were off.

As we pulled out of our driveway, Anna opened her window and yelled out “Look out world, here comes the kindness”.  Clearly, Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes (and I mean that in the best possible way) was ready for this adventure!!

1) Our initial stop was at one of our favorite local coffee shops.  We had ordered several boxes of pastries and scones, ready for “thank you” deliveries.  The first box was delivered to our public library, to say thank you to the librarians and staff.

2) We also took our treats to the local Parks Department.  (We love our community parks).

3) And to the tellers at our bank.  (Since the kids always get a sticker or a sucker at the bank, they figured it was high time to return the favor).

4) And to the nurses at our community hospital.

5) We stopped by several local stores and taped quarters to the gumball and toy vending machines.

6) At our local video store, we purchased boxes of popcorn and candy, and left them in bags with $5 bills.  We asked the clerk to hand them out to different customers with children.  It was a family movie night on us!

This “Random Act” was a bit challenging for Anna. She REALLY wanted a box of candy too. But, the answer was no. Clearly, she wasn’t too happy at the moment that I took this picture. But, thankfully she got over it quick enough and we continued on with our day.

7 & 8) We went to 3 parks and taped dollar bills and bubbles on the playground equipment, ready to be found by someone on the swings or headed for home plate or going down the slide.  After our stealth-taping-missions, Henry and Anna had a ball “hiding out” and watching the treasures being discovered…..

9) At the hospital, we also delivered boxes of books and art supplies and bubbles and treats, to pass along to kids who might be staying in the hospital.

10) We delivered vases of flowers to several residents at the nursing home.  Of all the random acts, I think this one had the biggest emotional impact on all of us.  Mostly because we were able deliver our gifts personally.  We shared flowers and hugs with strangers, and they shared their kind words with us.  And room after room, we shared a few tears.  It was pretty powerful.

Here is the remainder of our list:
(Unfortunately, these are without photos.  There was just too much to juggle that day to get all the pictures I had wanted.)

11) A neighbor had lost a beautiful tree during a lightening storm earlier in the summer.  It was a stunning 100 year old oak.  A tree that our whole family had watched again and again, through the seasons.  In fact, I had taken pictures of the tree from the roadside many times, covered in winter frost, or turning colors in autumn.  After it was struck by lightening and split in two, we all talked about how sad we were.  And how sad we thought the owners must be.  So, we decided to print some of the photos I had taken, and we left them in an envelope in the owners mailbox.

12) We bagged up unused toys and outgrown clothes and took them to our local donation center.

13) We left $5 Subway gift cards on car windshields.

14) We left a vase of flowers on the doorstep of 2 random houses.

15) We left quarters and bubbles at the laundromat.

16) We left $10 at a favorite coffee shop, instructing the barista to provide ice cream “on us” for a few kids that day.

17) We left a $20 tip for our $2.25 doughnut tab that morning.

18) We left $1 bills in the community pool locker rooms, so kids could buy a treat during the swim breaks.

19) We bought produce at the community farmer’s market and donated it to the local food shelf.  (We took care of this one a few days later, when the farmer’s market was open).

20) And, we each wrote an unexpected thank you note to someone who was important to us or had recently done something nice for us.

That’s it.  20 random acts.   Man, it was a good day.

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Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for just how wonderful this Monday Adventure would be.  Or how involved and excited the kids would be at every step.  Or how much I would be impacted by all of it.

Of course, don’t get me wrong.  I know that we didn’t save the world that day.  We spent a few short hours doing a couple simple things.  But, since then, we’ve talked about that day.  A LOT.  And, we’d dropped a few more “Random Acts” here and there, just because we felt like it.

In my heart of hearts, I think that we can’t underestimate the power of an unexpected kindness.  Or a simple smile.  Or a scone offered in the spirit of gratitude.  Call me “Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes,” but I truly believe that much of the goodness in this world comes in ripples.  One kindness, from another kindness, from another kindness.  I can only hope that the little, tiny ripples we create have an impact on someone else.  And I sure know that those little ripples have turned into some pretty big waves at our house.  For Henry and for Anna.  And oh-my-goodness, for me too.