Saturday, March 04, 2006

A Kinder & Gentler World

Unfortunately, it seems that we tend to dwell on negatives. Maybe that's because there are so many of them in the news and they usually generate a lot of discussion. Funny that the positive things, when mentioned, may get a passing nod of approval and, perhaps, a comment or two but are then forgotten and overshadowed by something egregious or sinister.

One of the stated goals of Citizens Against Hate is making the world a kinder and gentler place. While that might be a "lofty" idea - it's still reachable. Random acts of kindness happen everyday. Below is a story of just such an act. How many times have we passed by the guy on the corner, holding a sign, and thought "Is he really homeless," and then felt guilty because we passed on by?


The Price of a Meal
Submitted By: Anonymous

I saw him at the intersection as I drove past. He was a tall, skinny, bearded man asking for aid. “Homeless, please help,” read his sign.

“Hmm... Is he really homeless?” I thought to myself as I continued on my way. The man’s image kept lingering in my head. I saw his lanky figure, his fatigued skin worn under the hot summer sun. “Homeless or not,” I told myself, “I know I’m much better off than he is.” I started to imagine how he would feel if I gave him five hundred dollars, or one hundred! How anybody would react to that. But being the poor college student that I was, I knew it wouldn’t be possible. I checked the contents of my wallet; twenty dollars. That might still create somewhat of the same effect.

I told myself if I saw that man again, I would give him all I had. Driving around the same corner again, the intersection pulled into sight, and so did the man.

My car was stopped at the light just at where he was standing. I rolled down the window and handed him my money. He took it from me and held it in his hands for a bit, holding and examining it. He seemed shock, momentarily in a different state. He then looked up at me with his clear, sparkling blue eyes, and smiled at me most sincerely. Time seemed to suspend then, as a connection was forged between two human beings. He stood smiling at me from his stance, nodding and thanking me in my car.

Suddenly, he dashed across the street towards the stretch of grassy lawn… and for the first time, I noticed his wife and child, sitting under a tree by the road. The man was nearly jumping out of his skin, waving the bill in front of his wife and kid. He suddenly looked like a little child again who had just received a big piece of candy.

My heart melted as I watched the family get up and walk towards a restaurant to eat. After a hard day’s work, their daddy could finally provide them a meal.

One of my favorite places on the Internet is the Random Acts Of Kindness website. Many of the suggestions that are listed there are used by Citizens Against Hate in our community outreach materials - and they really do work wonders. I thought that I would share them with all of you. In our busy lives many of these things only take a few minutes of our time and yet can mean so much to those around us.


1. Deliver fresh-baked cookies to city workers.
2. Collect goods for a food bank.
3. Bring flowers to work and share them with coworkers.
4. Garden clubs can make floral arrangements for senior centers, nursing homes, hospitals, police stations, or shut-ins.
5. Adopt a student who needs a friend, checking in periodically to see how things are going.
6. Volunteer to be a tutor in a school.
7. Extend a hand to someone in need. Give your full attention and simply listen.
8. Merchants can donate a percentage of receipts for the week to a special cause.
9. Bring coworkers a special treat.
10. Students can clean classrooms for the custodian.
11. Buy a stranger a free pizza.
12. Distribute lollipops to kids.
13. Sing at a nursing home.
14. Offer a couple of hours of baby-sitting to parents. 15. Slip paper hearts that say “It’s Random Acts of Kindness Week! Have a great day!” under the windshield wipers of parked cars.
16. Have a charity day at work, with employees bringing nonperishable food items to donate.
17. Serve refreshments to customers.
18. Draw names at school or work, and have people bring a small gift or food treat for their secret pal.
19. Remember the bereaved with phone calls, cards, plants, and food.
20. Treat someone to fresh fruit.
21. Pay a compliment at least once a day.
22. Call or visit a homebound person.
23. Hand out balloons to passersby.
24. Give free sodas to motorists.
25. Be a good neighbor. Take over a baked treat or stop by to say “Hello.”
26. Transport someone who can’t drive.
27. Mow a neighbor’s grass.
28. Say something nice to everyone you meet today.
29. Send a treat to a school or day-care center.
30. Volunteer at an agency that needs help.
31. Wipe rainwater off shopping carts or hold umbrellas for shoppers on the way to their cars.
32. Give the gift of your smile.
33. Send home a note telling parents something their child did well.
34. Adopt a homeless pet at the humane society.
35. Organize a scout troop or service club to help people with packages at the mall or grocery.
36. Host special programs or speakers at libraries or bookstores.
37. Offer to answer the phone for the school secretary for ten minutes.
38. Volunteer to read to students in the classroom.
39. Write notes of appreciation and bring flowers or goodies to teachers or other important people, such as the principal, nurse, custodian, and secretary.
40. Incorporate kindness into the curriculum at area schools, day care centers, or children’s classes in faith organizations.
41. Give a hug to a friend.
42. Tell your children why you love them.
43. Write a note to your mother/father and tell them why they are special.
44. Pat someone on the back.
45. Write a thank-you note to a mentor or someone who has influenced your life in a positive way.
46. Give coffee to people on their way to work in the morning.
47. Donate time at a senior center.
48. Give blood.
49. Visit hospitals with smiles, treats, and friendly conversation for patients.
50. Stop by a nursing home, and visit a resident with no family nearby.
51. Plant flowers in your neighbor’s flower box.
52. Give another driver your parking spot.
53. Leave a treat or handmade note of thanks for a delivery person or mail carrier.
54. Give free car washes.
55. Clean graffiti from neighborhood walls and buildings.
56. Tell your boss that you think he/she does a good job.
57. Tell your employees how much you appreciate their work.
58. Let your staff leave work an hour early.
59. Have a clean-up party in the park.
60. Tell a bus or taxi driver how much you appreciate their driving.
61. Have everyone in your office draw the name of a Random Acts of Kindness buddy out of a hat and do a kind act for their buddy that day or week.
62. Give a pair of tickets to a baseball game or concert to a stranger.
63. Leave an extra big tip for the waitperson.
64. Drop off a plant, cookies, or donuts to the police or fire department.
65. Open the door for another person.
66. Pay for the meal of the person behind you in the drive-through.
67. Write a note to the boss of someone who has helped you, praising the employee.
68. Leave a bouquet of flowers on the desk of a colleague at work with whom you don’t normally get along.
69. Call an estranged family member.
70. Volunteer to fix up an elderly couple’s home.
71. Pay for the person behind you in the movie line.
72. Give flowers to be delivered with meal delivery programs.
73. Give toys to the children at the shelter or safe house.
74. Give friends and family kindness coupons they can redeem for kind favors.
75. Be a friend to a new student or coworker.
76. Renew an old friendship by sending a letter or small gift to someone you haven’t talked with in a long time.
77. For one week, act on every single thought of generosity that arises spontaneously in your heart, and notice what happens as a consequence.
78. Offer to return a shopping cart to the store for someone loading a car.
79. Invite someone new over for dinner.
80. Buy a roll of brightly colored stickers and give them to children you meet during the day.
81. Write a card of thanks and leave it with your tip. Be sure to be specific in your thanks.
82. Let the person behind you in the grocery store go ahead of you in line.
83. When drivers try to merge into your lane, let them in with a wave and a smile.
84. Buy cold drinks for the people next to you at a ball game.
85. Distribute kindness bookmarks that you have made.
86. Create a craft project or build a bird house with a child.
87. Give a bag of groceries to a homeless person.
88. Laugh out loud often and share your smile generously.
89. Plant a tree in your neighborhood.
90. Make a list of things to do to bring more kindness into the world, and have a friend make a list. Exchange lists and do one item per day for a month.
91. Use an instant camera to take people’s photographs at a party or community event, and give the picture to them.
92. As you go about your day, pick up trash.
93. Send a letter to some former teachers, letting them know the difference they made in your life.
94. Send a gift anonymously to a friend.
95. Organize a clothing drive for a shelter.
96. Buy books for a day care or school.
97. Slip a $20 bill to a person who you know is having financial difficulty.
98. Take an acquaintance to dinner.
99. Offer to take a friend’s child to ball practice.
100. Waive late fees for the week.

Generally speaking, being kind costs us little to nothing and the rewards are huge. Kindness is contagious. Pass it on.


  1. Thanks for posting that. I think all of us, whatever our beliefs or politics are, can benefit from it. It's so easy to get caught up in daily life and our own troubles or concerns that we forget about other people.

    I don't know if you've seen the movie or read the book "Pay It Forward", but you might enjoy those too - the movie was what got my nephew really interested in volunteerism and helping others.

  2. Thank you Raine. So often this kind of story or article gets few comments as people would just rather stay where they can argue, fuss, and fight. ;)

    I love that movie! Good for your nephew! Ya know, I feel so fornutate and blessed in my life that I am always looking for ways to make things just a little better for those who are less fortunate. But, like so many others, I can get caught up in my own problems and become really egocentric.

    I'm glad to see you here! Keep up the good thoughts.

  3. Wow, what a good story! Here's another thought. Actually I have done this countless times. When going into the store, or out, if you see someone digging for change at a soda machine walk up and deposit a dollar bill then walk away and say, "there you go" with a smile. Makes shopping more fun actually!

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. The other day I took 5 teenagers to lunch downtown. As we were walking to the restaurant, I noticed a car parked in front of a meter that had expired. As we walked by I dropped fifty-cents in the meter. The girls were all asking "Why did you do that?"

    There are so many little things that can be done to make this a better world. Things that just don't require any time or money to speak of, can be done by all of us daily.

    As Raine mentioned, the movie Pay It Forward, demonstrates how we can stop being so self-absorbed and start being responsive to the kindness needed to make our time here a whole lot more enjoyable.

  6. Nikki said...

    The other day I took 5 teenagers to lunch downtown. As we were walking to the restaurant, I noticed a car parked in front of a meter that had expired. As we walked by I dropped fifty-cents in the meter.
    That is aganist the law in most large cities. It is illegal to put money in a parking meter unless you are the one using the meter.

    They do this to prevent groups of people from monopolizing parking meters in a given area.

  7. Really? I had never heard that before. Oh well! I tried to do something decent!


All comments must remain civil. No threats, racist epithets, or personal attacks will be tolerated. Rational debate, discourse, and even disagreement are all acceptable as long as they remain on point and within the realm of civility.