At the beginning of the month, I set out to complete 30 Random Acts of Kindness in 30 Days. I’d been seeing a lot of 30-Day challenges, and kept thinking to myself “that’s something I should do some day!”. At last I decided there was no better time than the present.
I should probably start by saying, I’m not very good at sticking to things. Especially things that require persistence, or have deadlines… which is why I asked people to join me on my thirty days. Thanks to everyone who joined in, not only did I complete my 30 Random Acts of Kindness, but I helped inspire almost a hundred more!
You cannot imagine how happy that makes me.
I’ve always been a big believer in the little things – those tiny moments that are the building blocks of everything else. Sometimes it’s those little things that mean the most, because they shape the world around us, and make it what it is. I think it’s easy to feel small, or insignificant, but whether we notice it or not we can and do affect the things around us. We also have the ability to decide what kind of impact we make, and I think that is a pretty powerful thing.
I’m pretty good at being cynical about the world, because I look around and see so many things I cannot change… but then I look again, and in fact, there are many things I can. Perhaps I cannot change the things I see, but I can change the way I see them… and by changing me, I can change the things around me, in little ways.
Hand-in-hand with Random Acts of Kindness is the idea of paying it forward – when someone does something for you, you try to pass it on when the moment arises – and by doing so, one small thing begins to spread out in ripples, ever larger. And thus, by changing ourselves, we change the world.
Of course, there are a lot of things that can’t be solved so simply. But I think adding a dash of kindness to our day-to-day lives is certainly a good place to start.
Doing Random Acts of Kindness has always held a special place in my heart, because they are a shining example of how important the small things in life can be. They don’t have to be big, or time consuming, or expensive, or difficult to do in any way… they can be as simple as telling someone you appreciate them, or offering to lend a hand. Sometimes the smallest gesture can mean the world.
When I first started my thirty-day challenge, I was excited to think about what I would do each day, and hoped it would help me get into the habit of doing small things for others. I soon found that in order to do one each and every day, they would have to be a little more planned out, and less random, than I had first anticipated. Looking back, I’m so pleased to have done all of the kindnesses I did – the big ones, and the small ones – but my favorites are the spontaneous ones, and often the simplest.
There’s an old saying that a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle, meaning that giving to someone else doesn’t have to take away from yourself, and in fact, makes the whole world a little brighter. I hope that I’ve lit a few candles this month, and inspired others to do the same.
These are my thirty days of kindness, and at the end I’ve included a list of some of the things other people did this month. If you’d like to add anything to the list, please leave them in the comments at the bottom of the page!
1. Went to the library and stuck notes inside books for people to find.
2. Noticed a car with an “Iraq Veteran” licence plate, and left this note on their windshield: “Thank you for serving our country and taking risks so we can have our freedom. Welcome back!”
3. Made this flier and posted it on a public bulletin board. I’d like to say this was an original idea of mine, but I’m not that brilliant. I thought I might have trouble finding a spot big enough for it on the board, but there was a big open space just perfect for it! I went back a week later and saw that all but a few of the tabs had been taken.
4. Went to the dollar store and hid some dollar bills among the toys in the kids section. I wish I’d had a little more time to stick around and see some happy faces!
5. Put together a bunch of care packages to give out to homeless people. Each bag contains almost a day’s worth of food (granola bars, poptarts), a warm pair of socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, other hygiene stuff, and a note. It cost me around five dollars a piece to put them together, and I figure if I give a homeless person five dollars, even in the best case scenario (not getting spent on booze/drugs) it wouldn’t stretch this far.
6. Made these Chewy Ginger Granola Bites and gave them away to friends and neighbors. They got many rave reviews!
7. This was my birthday, so I found all of the places around town that give away free stuff on your birthday and gave them to other people. One was a free truffle from the Schakolad Chocolate Factory – I asked the woman next to me if she wanted a free chocolate, explained that it was my birthday, and got her the one she wanted. It was just a little truffle, but she was so excited that I’d given away my freebie to her. It clearly made her day!
8. Made a donation to Random Acts of Oatmeal – they send packages of their oatmeal to food banks across the US. You can check them out, or make a donation, here: Mad Hectic Oatmeal
9. Took some homemade goodies to my favorite coffee shop barista’s. The Fiance and I have a routine of going out to get coffee on the weekends, and whenever I have extra baked goods I bring them some to make those long weekend hours they work a little nicer.
10. Made these “awesome cards” to hand out to people when the moment strikes. Some of them were inspired by cards I’ve seen around the internet, some of them I made up. My favorite is the one in the middle, which says “Hello – not to seem like a stalker or anything, but I couldn’t help but notice that you have a pretty serious case of the awesome. Please be aware that it may be contagious, and that anyone you have come into contact with may now be affected as well. You might want to inform them by passing along this card.”
11. Made a huge batch of this Enchilagna (a cross between enchiladas and lasagna) for some friends of mine. I believe it fed them well for a few days!
12. Printed off a bunch of coupons and left them next to the appropriate items in the store. I was later informed by a friend of mine that when store employees find these, they’re supposed to throw them away… I can only hope the customers got to them first! Just in case, I decided to do another one to make up for it, and left change on parking meters for people to use. I also put a couple quarters in someone’s meter that had expired… it’s fifty cents to me, but could’ve been a big ticket for them!
13. This is kind of a twofer. I bought this hand-made pendant (rose quartz wrapped in copper) from a man on the street trying to start his own business (more accurately, selling things to keep from begging). His work was beautiful, and of similar quality to that of many big-time artists I know! Part two of this act is, I sent the pendant to a friend of mine who’s going through a hard time. Rose quartz is meant to represent love and healing, and I know it was much appreciated!
14. Wrote a bunch of love-notes and slipped them into the breast-pockets of The Fiance’s work shirts, so every day he’ll have a little reminder of how much I care.
15. Donated a bunch of clothes and shoes to the Salvation Army. I try to do this whenever I have extra stuff lying around, or donate directly to shelters when I have warm coats or blankets to get rid of. Reduce, recycle, reuse!
16. This was the day before St. Patty’s. I put together these little packages of chocolate coins, adorned with leprechaun hats and tags that said “Lucky You!” on them, and went around town handing them out / hiding them for people to find. Some highlights of the day were when I stumbled across the “Cloverleaf Restaurant” (had to leave one there!), and also, while I was in a little cafe, there was a table with two drinks on it and two coats on the seats, but the people had momentarily left the table, so I set one right between their drinks for them to find. I sat across the cafe and got to see them come back, and their faces just lit up!
17. Made a small sign with this quote on it, and left it in a busy public place: “Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness take away from your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” – Kurt Vonnegut (Sorry, no picture of this one!)
18. I tracked down an old babysitter of mine (the most awesome babysitter ever) and wrote a long letter telling him what a great impression he made on me, how fondly I remember him, and thanking him for being such an awesome part of my childhood. It’s been fifteen plus years, so hopefully my sleuthing skills have come up with the right address and my letter reaches him!
19. I noticed a bunch of these coin vending machines at the store, with toys/stickers/candy in them, and filled all the slots with quarters. I remember begging my mom for change when I was a kid just for the chance to get something out of there!
20. Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies and mailed them individually to friends of mine with this note: “Sometimes me thinks, “what is friend?” and then me say, “friend is someone to share the last cookie with.” – Cookie Monster”
21. Left a little gift for our mail person.
22. Left a surprise present on my neighbors doorstep.
23. Bought some flowers and tied these cute little “Please Enjoy This Random Act of Kindness” tags to them, and went around parking lots sticking them in door handles. On the opposite side of the tags I wrote “have a great day!”. I hung out and got to see one guy come back to his car – a US army man in full attire – he was nervous at first and kept looking around, then he read the note and smiled!
24. Bought a Starbucks gift card, wrote “buy a coffee, on me!” on it, and left it on the counter for the person in line behind me. I got nervous and ran out of there too fast to see their reaction, though – whoops!
25. Volunteered for Food Gatherer’s, a local non-profit hunger-fighting organization which provides food for over 40,000 people each year, and some 15,000 meals per day. I’ve always tried to support them with food and money donations, but finally I made it a priority to donate my time. I will definitely be going back to volunteer again soon!
26. Gave blood at the Red Cross. This is something I’ve been meaning to do for ages. Everything went smoothly, so now I’ll have a donor card and can donate again soon.
27. Had a couple of punch cards (every time you buy something you get the card stamped, and after a certain number you get one free) that were full, so I gave them away to people going into the places where they could be used. One was for a free lunch at a pretty nice restaurant downtown – the guy I gave it too was a little confused at first, but was really excited when he realized I was being serious. “No, really, I want you to have it” – haha!
28. Donated a huge box of stuffed animals and beanie babies from my childhood to the local Fire Department. They take gently used toys and dolls to help comfort children who have been in traumatic situations, and were so pleased and gracious when I showed up!
29. Taped a couple of dollars to a vending machine with the note, “Happy Spring! Please enjoy a treat, on me!”
30. The day before Easter! I found a bunch of these tiny plastic Easter eggs at the dollar store, and filled them with little handwritten notes. Then I went downtown and hid them all over the place – in window boxes, potted plants, ledges, trees – I even slipped one into somebody’s hoodie (right in the hood) when they had their back turned. Sneaky me!
31+ Throughout the month, many other people joined in on my challenge – thank you all so much for participating! Here are a few of their Random Acts of Kindness:
- bought lunch for a homeless person
- wrote thank-you notes to people in their lives
- walked a friend’s dog for them
- offered a ride to a friend
- let people go in line ahead of them
- donated money to various charities
- paid the toll for the person behind them on the turnpike
- a couple people got inspired by my “take what you need” sign, and made their own
- bought a gift card for the person in line behind them
- gave away free concert tickets
- helped someone carry a heavy load
- left quarters next to vending machines
- donated dog food to the humane society
- gave sincere compliments
- donated books to local schools
- brought food to a friend who had an injured leg and was having trouble getting around
- one person got out of their car at a busy intersection to help a blind man who was trying to cross the street
- helped a woman on a scooter at the grocery store reach an item she wanted
- made a habit of letting people go onto the bus ahead of them
- folded a paper crane with the note “have a lovely day” written on it, and left it in a public place
- volunteered for various organizations
- gave financial support to a friend
- shoveled snow off the neighbors driveway/sidewalk
- called to chat with an old friend
- wrote kind letters to family members
- gave a very generous tip to their waiter
- took time to listen more
- sent flowers to someone
- made an effort to be a nicer driver
- brought pies into work on pi day
- donated clothes to goodwill and other charities
- watched a friend’s kids for them
- made dinner for someone who had just had a baby
…and the list goes on!
My 30 Days of RAKs may be over, but there is no way I’m stopping there. If you’ve ever done a Random Act of Kindness, or had one done to you, please spread the love and share it in the comments below!
Willow, this is the best! I love your ideas and can just imagine how it made someone’s day…and it really is just by doing something small. Consider me inspired!
Thanks, Abby! I had so much fun doing it. The definition of a random act of kindness is doing something for someone else without expecting anything in return, but I have to say it is so, so rewarding. Glad I inspired you!
I’ve had such a good time following along with your random acts on FB. Each time I saw a post it brightened by day. And..I want some Enchilagna :) Have a great day Willow!
You ROCK, SisterFriend!!!!
May all of your kindnesses come full circle and return in kind 3-fold and more back to you.
Why, thank you! *blushes*
You are so AMAZING Willow- what an awesome month of RAK!
Thanks, Heather – and thank you for participating!
Fabulous!! I couldn’t be more pleased. I can’t take credit or be a “proud” Papa; one thing I learned raising you is that you are an individual, and you bring your own self to the party. I’m pleased that I didn’t screw you up too badly, though, and I definitely feel blessed to have you for a daughter! The world’s a better place.
Thanks, Dad – you can take a little credit, it’s okay. ;)
This is awesome!!! Thanks so much for sharing!
You’re welcome, thanks for reading!
What a wonderful project; seriously, i’ve loved watching you do these RAK’s and it’s truly been inspiring. i think my favorite was #3; i want to do that one now, and i need to see if my grocery store still has their board up like they used to for things like that. You did so many things! I also liked the balance between doing things for complete strangers and doing things for your friends and family; certainly nice to include everyone. So amazing to see how little things like this can make such a difference in peoples’ lives.
Thanks, Shannon! I like #3, too – it’s so easy to do, and I think it would really brighten someone’s day to see it. :)
Seriously awesome. Obviously, I’m going to have to send some extra kindness out to the cosmos this month…
This is so inspiring! Thanks you so much for giving me such great idea’s! I plan on doing this very soon. I might even start tomorrow. I have recently been smiling to people on the street. It’s so funny how we almost act like it’s wrong if we accidentally make eye contact with a stranger. We hang our heads and look the other way. I have been doing the opposite and staring at people until they look at me and then I give them a smile. Making someone smile is one of the most rewarding feelings.
Your 30 day challenge is the next step to spreading more smiles. :)
Thanks so much.
Wonderful! I think about that all the time, the way people find it so hard to even acknowledge each other sometimes… such a great idea to just look and smile! Good luck with your 30 days! :)
You are an inspiration. My father in law does this kind of stuff all the time. He has purchased someones lunch/breakfast who looks down on their luck especially if they are with a child resembling mine or are wearing something from the armed services. Keep up the inspiration.
Just found this today and am crying as I’m typing this! (which is totally normal,ha) This is truly incredible. I feel so encouraged to love the people around me, strangers included, even more! Thank you for getting out of your comfort zone and putting forth the energy to do this. You may never no how truly impactful this is!
Aww, thank you so much! Doing RAK’s can be so rewarding, and knowing that I’ve inspired you, just a little, makes it all worthwhile. Thank you for taking a moment to tell me — you’ve just made one person’s day a little brighter!
Love, love your ideas! Wonderful, I have totally taken to another one, similar to a few of yours — giving love letters to strangers . . .I vowed to write one per day for an entire year. Perhaps every years. Often I will place $1.00 in them — and dream of doing more, like, perhaps, at Christmas, $50.00!
I love the story about the wonderful late Jerry Orbach [he wrote his wife a love poem, a new one, each and every day of their married life and left it for her as he went to work], too. Similar to what you did for your fiance.
Also, years ago, I wrote a thank you for a random act of kindness given to me at camp, as a child. My story was published in the book “More Random Acts of Kindness” Conari Press. So, would love to share my story with you . . .and your readers.
You’re awesome! Please read my blog and I am sharing this on my FB, your wonderful article here!
Thank you! I love your love letter idea. I actually did something similar once, where I wrote a long, personal love-like letter, made copies, and mailed it to dozens of random people. I also left several around public areas (addressed to ‘whoever finds this’), or on a restaurant table with the tip (to ‘the waiter with the awesome shoes’), etc. — I think there’s something so personal about receiving a thoughtful, handwritten letter, especially since it’s such a rare thing these days.
And thank you so much for sharing your blog. It’s great to connect with someone who’s making such an effort so spread kindness and joy! :)
Hey, I LOVE this idea. My toddlers and I have been doing Random Acts of Kindness for the past 26 days of February. First it started as a count up to Valentine’s Day to show love and kindness to those around us. Then we got so in to it, we decided to carry on for the remainder of the month. We have two days to go and where looking for more ideas and were lucky enough to bump into your post. As a mom of two toddlers and an infant and care taker of my niece who’s also a toddler, I don’t have much time, but somehow this had been working out thus far. (We’re enjoying it so much that we might go the entire year with these acts of kindness.) But since I spend all the little extra time (before the kids are awake or after they go to bed late at night, scavenging Pinterest, planning, and getting these ideas together, any little help I can get is GREAT. I was wondering do you have all those cute notes saved from your kind notes, Easter Egg, etc saved that you could forward to me? And the tags / labels you’ve used for the various acts, such as the Saint Patrick’s one? I’d appreciate those too. Thank you in advance, for what ever you can share.
Hi Josefina! Thank you so much for this comment — it makes me so happy that you and your kids are doing random acts of kindness this month! I do have a few of these files still on my hard drive, and will email them to you. I didn’t actually realize I had them still until I looked, so I’m glad I checked. Have fun with the rest of your RAK’s!
I am planning to do 30 days of kindness in april to celebrate my 30th birthday on april 23, so I found this link on pinterest to get ideas. Thank you! I was excited to find another Willow with great ideas. :)
That’s fantastic! How exciting to meet another Willow, too… not a very common name. I’d love to hear how your 30 days of kindness goes in April, and I’m so happy I’ve been able to inspire you!
All of these ideas are great! Getting ready to embark on random acts of kindness adventures myself along with my sister. It is so nice to see people doing things like this to spread good feelings. It would be wonderful if kindness could take over the world!
Thanks Sarah! So glad to hear it. We need more Random Acts of Kindness in the world!
I love the “Awesome Cards”! Do you have a link available to print them?
A few years ago on the Saturday before Christmas, I took two rolls of quarters and went to my local Aldi grocery store where you have to put a quarter in the shopping cart to obtain it’s use. I simply handed out a quarter to each shopper and said “Merry Christmas” as each person came up to get a shopping cart. Many smiled and said “Thanks!”, some were unsure and simply said “No thanks” and there were others that said “Really?! Thanks! Why are you doing this?”. I only said “because it’s Christmas and wanted to do something kind. Please pass it on or keep the quarter if you need it”
Hi Willow! I noticed this post is from 2013, so you might never see this comment, but I just wanted to tell you how much I loved this list – and found it really inspiring too! I’ll definitely use some of your ideas in the future, so thank you for the great tips. Love from Italy♡
Thank you so much, Iris! I don’t check these comments often, but I didn’t miss yours. I’m really glad I could inspire you. Ciao! :)
Dear Willow, it was so heartwarming to read all about your random acts of kindness. I am truly inspired to do the same. Thank you!