30 for 30

Long before my birthday arrived, Doc and I started talking about what we wanted to do to celebrate it.  It was a big year (30!) and so Doc wanted to make sure we did something more than just a dinner out.  As you already know, we ended up ringing in my birthday while on vacation in Puerto Rico, but I wanted to do more than that.  We talked through some different ideas and decided that to celebrate my thirty years of life, we would do embark on a challenge to do thirty random acts of kindness.  At the time, I had no idea this was a whole trend.  If you do a google search on "Random Acts of Kindness" you'll find loads of websites where people have done this same thing for various reasons. 

The plan was to knock out our 30 acts of kindness before we left on vacation, but time just did not allow.  So we started right after we got back and spent about a month completing the list.  I don't have pictures of everything we did, but I have quite a few.  We ended up not doing thirty different acts, but instead focused on effecting thirty different people.  That means some "acts" could be counted more than once since they hopefully brought a smile to more than one person.

1.  My mom and I were getting lunch at Wendy's and decided to pay for the order of the person behind us in the drive-thru line.  The cashier actually ended up running up to our window where we were picking up our food to tell us how excited and thankful the girls behind us were after getting our note.

2.  I left a dollar on a vending machine at work so someone could have a treat on me.  (Could argue that this could've gone to four people since everything in our vending machines just costs a quarter!)

3.  Doc's assistant at work was heading out of town with friends, so he gave her enough money to buy a round of drinks for the group while they were on vacation.

4.  I nearly swerved off the road one day while I was gazing at the most beautiful tulips in a flower bed.  I ended up turning around to leave a note in the mailbox telling the homeowner that I loved admiring them.

5.  You know those websites that offer services for free?  You know, the ones that you always go to and maybe at the bottom or off to the side they say something like "This website is run by volunteers.  Please consider donating so we can keep it free!"  Yea, I always ignore that little message.  But one day I stopped and donated on a website I use to resize photos so that it can continue to be free.

6.  What little kid doesn't love getting something out of the toy/candy machine?  I put a quarter in every slot of this bank of machines.  Hopefully more than one kid was able to get something!

7. For Easter, we (I mean, the "Easter Bunny") got Wyatt a pair of tickets to a basketball game for a boys' night with his dad.  Doc ended up getting much better tickets through his work so, rather than selling the original tickets we'd already purchased, Doc gave them away the night of the game.

8. At the same game as mentioned above, Doc and Wyatt were sitting in an area where wait service brought food and drinks.  Doc bought drinks and snacks for the other people in his row, who ended up being friends of a coworker but not actually people he knew. 

9. through 12.  One night Doc and I had to go to the church for handbell practice.  It was on a Monday so I decided to leave "Happies" on the cars in the parking lot.  I knew it would be a small crowd so there were only four other cars besides ours.  On each car I left a bag of candy with a note that said "Mondays are bad.  Hope this treat makes yours better!"  (I left one on our own car too so we didn't look suspicious.)  Later that night, I checked facebook and saw that one of the girls from handbells had this as her status update: "I had a random act of kindness on my car after handbells that completely turned my crabby mood around. Such a little thing can make such a difference. I will pay it forward tomorrow!! Thank you stranger!"

13.  We had a nice dinner out with friends one Saturday night and Doc and I had several gift cards we planned on using.  Rather than using them all up, I asked the waitor to bring us back $50 on a gift card.  Before leaving the restaurant, we picked a couple to give the gift card to.

14. through 16.  I left popcorn on three Redbox machines.  Who doesn't love popcorn with their movie?

17.  Also on a Monday, I left a candy bar with a note in a random neighbor's mailbox.  I know getting a candy bar after a long day at work would definitely brighten my day!

18.  Very similar to the one above, I left a treat in our own mailbox for our mailperson to find.

19. and 20. I placed two $5 Starbucks gift cards on two random cars in my work parking lot.

21. and 22. I had two more $5 Starbucks cards so one afternoon while I was in my old neighborhood, I stopped by the mailbox area of my old apartments and dropped them off in two random mail slots.

23. Rather than just throwing it away, I left my magazine (with a note) in the pocket of my airplane seat so that the next passenger could flip through it.  (I hope it was a girl that enjoys celebrity gossip like I do!)

24.  I had lunch one afternoon with a couple friends and their babies.  There were three small babies at our table and even though they were actually really well behaved, I decided to pick up the check for the couple seated pretty close to us.

25.  Doc was planning on buying a coworker's lunch one day and a stranger ended up getting in line between the two of them.  He decided to just buy that man's lunch too.

26.  We had a lot of extra candy after Easter so I took a bag of it to work and left it in a conference room with a note.  Candy always makes meetings better.

27.  While pumping gas one day, a man approached Doc with somewhat of a sob story about how he needed to get his son's truck home and had just spent all of his money on a new tire.  Doc gave him $20 for gas money so he could get home.  Later, when Doc told me about it, he was worried he may have gotten scammed.  I told him not to worry, that he did the right thing.  Sometimes you just have to give people the benefit of the doubt and do what you know to be the right thing. 

28.  I recently found a blog through Facebook that I'd never stumbled upon before.  I spent an hour clicking through posts and fighting back tears as this woman had just lost her 5 1/2 year old little boy.  She and her husband have gone through more than any one couple should ever have to, and yet the words on her blog are so eloquent and uplifting.  I don't know her, and she certainly doesn't know me, but I made two donations to organizations in memory of her sweet little boy.

29. and 30.  Do you love getting snail mail as much as I do?  I picked up these two "just because" cards and put them in the mail to two friends I hadn't talked to in a while.  So easy!  Why don't I do that more often?

So here's what I learned from this little challenge:

  • Being kind to others makes you feel good.  Like, really good.  In most instances, I didn't get to see the recipient's reaction, but in the few times that I did, I loved it.  It made MY day better to do something to brighten someone else's day.
  • Most of our kindness acts revolve around money or paying for something, but that doesn't have to be the case.  I thought of several ideas that would be free, but time (and weather) just didn't allow them to work.  For instance, you could mow a neighbor's yard while mowing your own, walk someone's dog, sit with a newborn so the mom can shower or nap, etc. 
  • There were several kind things we did during this time period that I didn't include on the list because they were things we would do normally.  Things like taking a meal to new parents, holding doors open, passing outgrown diapers on to a friend's baby, etc.  I wanted this list of 30 to be things that we had to think about or go out of our way to do, things that took us out of our normal routine.
  • Sometimes, it's hard to put yourself in a situation to perform a kind act.  I tried to hard to pump someone's gas, but no one ever pulled up while I was there!  Same with sharing an umbrella with someone - there wasn't anyone in need on the rainy day I was out and about.  When I wanted to pay for someone behind me in the drive-thru line, I had to wait for someone to come along.  I guess sometimes you just have to keep your eyes open and let the opportunity for kindness find you.  If you're trying to will it to happen, it won't.

I'm glad I took this challenge and hope that it's something I continue to do on a regular basis.  Doing something for someone else will never dampen my day, so why wouldn't I do it any chance I got?  And after the events of last week, I think this world could use a lot more kindness. 

What about you?  Done anything exceptionally kind for someone lately?  If you haven't, maybe you should!  Tell me about it in the comments.