Performing Random Acts of Kindness - For Little or No Money
By Joan Whetzel
Anne Herbert is said to have been the person who originated the idea of performing random acts of kindness when she wrote the following phrase on a restaurant placemat: "Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty." The idea has blossomed into a national and international phenomenon, spawning events, books, and articles like this one that promote ways to perform random - and sometimes anonymous - acts of kindness. The great thing about many of these acts of kindness is that they can be implemented with little or no money.
Random Acts of Kindness
Random acts of kindness are actions performed for another person, without any expectation of repayment on the part of the giver. The givers wish to brighten another person's day - either someone known to them or a complete stranger - with a thoughtful or caring gesture that shows that the other person matters. The act doesn't need to cost much money, or even any money.
Inexpensive Acts of Kindness
There are many ways to care about others for relatively little money. Most of them can be carried out anonymously. Some of the acts of kindness that don't cost much money include:
· Care Packages for the Homeless. Pack some small bags with things like a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, and any other small personal care items that a homeless person could make use of.
· Flowers for, well, anyone. Either purchase a small bouquet or a single flower, or better yet clip some flowers from the flower bushes in your own yard, and give them to neighbors, friends, family or co-workers when they are going through a rough time, are ill, have had a baby, or just because.
· Non-perishables for the local food bank. Collect non-perishables from your own cabinet or from friends, neighbors, and family to donate to the local food banks. Non-perishables are not just canned goods, but include any boxed foods (cereal, mac and cheese, Hamburger Helper ® and the like), and baby formula, as well as paper items (toilet paper, paper towels) and even disposable diapers.
· Grocery Store "donate $1" coupons. Grocery stores have these all the time at the register, the coupons that you can purchase for $1, $5, or $10 to donate to a good cause like the local food bank, operation school supply programs, and relief programs (hurricane, tornado, earthquake, etc.). They add the amount on the coupon to your grocery bill, which is sent to the agency marked on the coupon.
· Clothing and household goods donations. You have already purchased these items, and gently cared for them. Instead of throwing them out, or selling them in a garage sale, donate them to organizations who can share them with those in need, such as: church social services groups, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and the Purple Heart. Be aware, though, that most of these places will not accept mattresses, especially with the incidences of bed bugs on the rise.
· "Paying it forward" in cash. This is an easy and anonymous one. If you're on the toll way, pay the toll for the vehicle behind you. If you are in line at the fast food restaurant, pay for the meal of the person behind you in line. By the time the person realizes they don't need to pay, thanks to you, you will be gone so the person doesn't even feel the need to thank you personally. They only need to thank their lucky stars and have a nice day.
Free Acts of Kindness
Free acts of kindness abound by the hundreds. They cost you nothing but time.
· Blood donations. I have personally donated a number of pints myself (I've lost count) and was a recipient of 2 pints a few years back due to a major surgery. I very grateful there was blood available when I needed it, and I thank the person who donated from the bottom of my heart. It takes so little to donate.
· Clean Up Graffiti Alright this might cost you the price of a can or two of paint, unless you can get it donated or paid for by the person whose property has been graffitied. Doing the painting for free gives back to the community with beautification.
· Donate Used Books to the Library Libraries love free books. Some can be placed on their shelves, free of charge, for the public to check out, also free of charge. Other books can be sold at annual "Friends of the Library" book sales to raise funds for the library. Funds raised in this manner means that less money has to be raised by taxes. This donation has another benefit - it can be claimed as a tax deduction next year.
·Give time to the elderly This includes weekly visits to a nursing home, school and church groups singing events at nursing homes, or periodically spending time with an elderly neighbor, friend or family member. It could include taking them shopping when they need it, or shopping for them.
· Help a Child Learn This can be done through a volunteer tutoring position at a local school, church or community center. Or it could be done by mentoring a child in your neighborhood or church, or volunteering as a mentor at a local school or through a program like "Big Brothers and Big Sisters."
· Help Someone Out for Free Help a neighbor by mowing the lawn, especially if the neighbor is elderly or ill. Mow the lawn of an abandoned house in the neighborhood; it keeps the neighborhood beautiful and keeps property values up. Pick up their mail and newspapers while they are on vacation. Stop and help somebody having car trouble. Let someone use your cell phone to call for help.
· Hold the Door For Someone This is just common courtesy, and a holdover from the olden days. But people still appreciate it.
· Let someone get in Front of you In Line We've all been the person with only two items standing behind one or more fully loaded carts at the grocery store or Walmart, when none of the express lines are open, or the lines at the express lines are a mile long (think Christmas). Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by someone letting you ahead because you only had a couple items? Do the same for someone else. When in line at the movie theater, if someone joins a party ahead of you in line, don't get mad but realize that the late person may have been parking the car and remember how many times you have done the same time. Don’t get mad that the person may be "cutting in line" but be happy that you are here to enjoy the same event, which you won't enjoy if you get mad.
· Return a Shopping Cart Either return it to the store or to one of the designated shopping cart slots in the parking lot. It only requires a few extra steps. If everyone does this, then there will be less dented and scraped cars in this world, and less irritated people who couldn't find a parking space because there are so many parking spots taken up by stray shopping carts.
· Read to a child or the Elderly This is easy to do for family members. If you have the time, volunteer at a school or nursing home for regular reading time. Or volunteer to be a reader for the public library reading hour.
· Write a Letter to Someone Who's Made a Difference in Your Life. We're not talking about sending off a quick email. We're talking about a real hand written note. It can be on notebook paper, fancy stationary (wow they must really be worth something to get a note on nice stationary), or a note card. Handwritten notes and letters tell the recipient that they are worth taking the time to write by hand.
· Pick Up the Trash around the neighborhood or at the local park. Anytime you are out and about and see a piece of trash on the ground, pick it up and deposit it in the nearest trash can. It keeps the world beautiful for everyone. The addendum to this is "Don’t Litter."
· Be a Listener Next time you find out that someone you know (friend, acquaintance, or family) is going through a hard time, and you don't know what to do for them, instead of giving in to the temptation to do nothing, just simply sit and listen; without offering suggestions for how to fix the problem. Often times the other person already knows, on some level, what they need to do to solve the problem, the just need to vent some emotions in order to get to a place where they can take care of things. Being a good listener is a difficult job, probably one of the hardest jobs there is. But you won't regret it.
· Encourage Someone Offering encouragement to someone going through a difficult patch is another kindness that will be appreciated by the recipient. It acknowledges that they are capable of taking charge of the situation that they have the strength of spirit to make it through.
· Help Someone Load or Unload their Groceries This is especially helpful for elderly people who may be having trouble getting around, or people with obvious physical or medical conditions (i.e. a woman who is very, very pregnant). Just be sure to ask if you can help them first. Some people get uncomfortable if a stranger just appears suddenly and starts grabbing grocery bags.
· Give Someone a Hug This one works best for close friends and family, or people who you know or visit frequently. To simply go up and hug a stranger could get you into trouble.
· Be Attentive to the Needs of Others Sometimes these needs are not readily obvious, and require paying close attention to what the other person is getting upset about. Other times, it may turn out that the other person is afraid to ask for help. You will have a choice of taking care of the need without being asked to do so (only do this if you are certain the other person will be okay with it) or by asking the other person which part(s) of the problem you can help them take care of. Sometimes, the simple act of asking how you can help is all the help they really needed. It implies that you cared enough to ask if you could help and are willing to help in any way that they need done.
· Be Polite Please and Thank You are words that aren't used nearly enough these days. They are a simple and free way of showing respect for others. Even strangers.
· Offer Compliments Tell someone they look nice today, or that you like their new haircut or outfit. Notice that they've lost a little weight. Compliment a stranger by telling them how their outfit makes them look nice or they are wearing a color that looks great on them. Tell a parent at the table next to you at a restaurant, that you admire how well behaved their children are and how pleasant it's been being seated next to them.
· Volunteer at school, at church, at the community center, at a hospital or hospice care. Anywhere that provides services to the community.
· Forgive Somebody Forgive them in person if you can, letting them know why you were hurt. It may help them to forgive others in their lives. It may also help them be able to see how their actions and words affect others so that they can grow spiritually. If you can't do this in person - the person has died, lives to far away now, or has moved and you can't find them - forgive them in your heart; which will unburden your heart and spirit, leaving you free to get on with your life, without the other person or their actions continuing to negatively affect you.
· Smile You'd be surprised at how the simple act of giving someone a smile can change their attitude for the rest of the day. Their day may have started off bad, but your smile changes the way they feel. Smiling at someone you know, shows them that you are happy to see them and spend whatever time you have with them. You may only get 5 minutes on the driveway, but you are glad to have that 5 minutes with them.
· Expect Noting in Return This means that you are freely offering the gift of your time, energy, money, or other gifts - without any expectation of a return on your investment. Because acts of kindness have their own rewards.
Performing Random Acts of Kindness Has Its Own Rewards
Random acts of kindness performed by us, or for us, reminds us that our actions have an impact on others in our community and the world at large. They also have their "payment" program of sorts.
· Helping others improves your physical and psychological health, by diminishing the effects that diseases produce in the body and by making you feel better for having done something that improved the life of another person.
· The act of kindness gives people a euphoric feeling and periods of calmness and well-being, sort of a natural high, an endorphin rush, from helping someone else.
· Helping others reduces stress, not just for the recipient, but for the giver as well, which lessens feelings of depression, hostility and isolation in the giver, because they have had the opportunity to have contact with others.
· Helping others increases feelings of joy, energy levels, and improves the giver's ability to bounce back emotionally.
· The endorphin rush provided by performing random acts of kindness, decreases the intensity of pain as well as the person's awareness of that pain.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. Kindness Ideas.
Wikipedia. Random Acts of Kindness.
Wiki How. How to Practice Random Acts of Kindness.
Random Acts of Kindness. About Random Acts of Kindness.