Today is Random Acts of Kindness Day, which encourages the practice of kindness through small deeds. Here are some suggestions.
Pay for a stranger’s lunch. Tell the waitress (make sure you tip her/him) and fork up the money.
Buy someone coffee. While you’re waiting in line, buy someone else’s. You can do it secretly or openly.
Hand out free bus tickets. Look for young people, the elderly and homeless.
Buy an extra pair of shoes. Donate them to a shelter.
Shovel a neighbor’s driveway, rake their leaves or take their garbage can to the curb. This is welcome help to an elderly or disabled person.
Allow someone to cut-in-line at the grocery store or at the gas pump. If you struggle with patience, practice with this.
Pay a stranger a compliment. Most of us look to our family and friends for support. Say something kind to at least three random people. It’ll make their day.
Give a homeless person a blanket. Go for the thermal ones that will keep a person warm.
Smile and wave at 10 strangers. Many times, a smile can lift a person’s day.
Help someone find a job.
Support locally owned businesses as an investment in your community.
By LINDA M. LINONIS
Random acts of kindness are meant as a counter to random acts of violence.
An anonymous benefactor founded and funds the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation and its website, www.randomactsofkindness.org.
Marilyn Decalo, manager of the foundation, said the organization is a positive movement in the face of something negative — violence.
In the 1980s, there was unrest and violence in San Francisco and some other cities, she said. A writer, Anne Herbert, coined the phrase “random acts of kindness,” and it caught on in word and deed. Decalo said the foundation, a non-profit, was established in 1995 in California. It relocated in 2000 to Denver, Colo.
Today is Random Acts of Kindness Day in a week-long celebration, Feb. 14-20.
The kindness challenge today is sharing a treat at work, school or with a neighbor.
On Friday, carpool or pay someone’s bus fare; on Saturday, donate to a cause to help another; and on Sunday, do something kind for a neighbor and ask them to “pass it on” to continue kind acts. Earlier this week: Monday, focused on sending a note of appreciation to someone you love; Tuesday, was smile at 10 strangers day; and Wednesday, was hold open a door for someone every chance you get day.
“If people act kindly, it leads to more positive behavior,” Decalo said. “Kindness revolves around thinking about others and the community."
She said performing acts of kindness can help offset stress, as the act redirects one’s attention to someone else. Doing a good deed, she continued, takes our minds off of our own problems and opens our eyes to how we can make a difference even through a small gesture.
“I think it helps empower our communities and society to change for the better,” she said.
Decalo said the foundation receives feedback through its website about the positive effects performing an act of kindness has on the good-deed doers and recipients.
She said the website offers a section geared to educators who can use ideas from the elementary to college level to engage youth in doing good.
It includes ideas from Dafna Michaelson, president of Journey Institute (www.journeyinstitute.org) and a college instructor, who visited 50 states in 52 weeks in 2009. In video interviews, Michaelson cataloged extraordinary projects that ordinary people organized in their communities to solve a problem or do something positive.
Lesson plans, activities and discussion guides are featured.