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I Like Celebrating my Birthday by Celebrating Kindness.

Submitted by Denise Williams (Lexington, KY)

It has become a tradition for me to do Random Acts of Kindness to Celebrate the number of years of my life!

It has become a tradition to ring in my birthday at the end of January by performing Random Acts of Kindness for each year of my life! My whole family even gets in to the spirit and helps to come up with ideas. They even help me on many of my “missions” and we all enjoy doing them. It is always a great way to lift not only the spirits of those who are the beneficiaries, but also our own. The following is a list of the RAKs we did this year…and boy-oh-boy, do we ever have some GREAT ideas for next year…
“43 Random Acts of Kindness before I turn 43” #1 I put money in vending machines for snacks and drinks so that the next person who came to use them would be pleasantly surprised. #2 I bought the person behind me in a drive-thru a meal…actually it was a smoothie…I think the honk I received was out of happiness! :) #3 We put quarters in gumball machines with notes telling the lucky kiddos to have a nice day! #4 We put quarters in washing machines and driers at the laundromat for the next user. #5 We put quarters on top of video game screens for the next players to use. #6 We scattered change at a local playground where the kids who play there in the next few days will find. #7 I took a load of magazines and books (mostly children’s books) to the Auxiliary at the local Hospital so that they could pass them out to patients and their families #8 I mailed a “be happy” card to a random person whose name I got from the phone book. #9 I left some stamps in the lobby of the Post Office with a RAK card. #10 I helped a few college students by adding money to their parking meters which had expired or were about to expire. #11 I sent a thank you card to a member of the US Military…something I should do more often! #12 I sent a note of encouragement to a friend who has had some troubles lately hoping that it will brighten her day. #13 I sent cards to my parents and brothers…they’ll have to wait to see what kind of cards and what they say :) #14 I sent a card with a personal message to a very dear former teacher of mine. #15 After lunch we saw a homeless man going through some trash cans and collecting cans. My son thought it would be a good idea to give him our leftovers. Instead, we went back inside and bought him a meal of his own (including dessert…my daughter’s touch). #16 I made a concentrated effort while driving to be extra courteous allowing other drivers to merge, change lanes, etc. by slowing down and signaling them to come over. I let people in parking lots and side streets out in front of me as well. #17 At dinner I bought a dessert for another patron who was eating alone. #18 When paying for a meal, I left a large tip to our server along with a note of thanks. #19 I helped some folks clear their windshields when they were caught off guard without scrapers…having the right tools is great, but even better when you can share! #20 We saw some trash in a grassy area on the side of a parking lot so we got out and picked it up. #21 After I filled my gas tank and got my receipt, I went in the gas station and put another $10 on the pump for the next customer. #22 When we were leaving our hotel after a trip, we left a note of thanks and a nice tip for the housekeeping staff. #23 I made a quick run into the grocery and when I came out I saw an elderly lady loading her groceries into her trunk. She had quite a few bags so I helped her put them in and then I returned her cart for her. #24 As I returned to my van after buying groceries I passed a man with a hat on that read, “Marine Veteran”. I stopped him, thanked him for his service, and shook his hand. His smile was worth the initial awkwardness I could tell he felt at my approach. #25 I left inspirational messages on Post-It notes and put them in the stalls and on the mirrors in bathrooms. I even left them at the gas pump and in the payment folder at a restaurant. Hopefully they will bring a smile to the readers’ faces! #26 I bought a card and I’m sent it along with a little bit of monetary support to a friend who has fallen on hard times. It’s not much but it will show I am thinking of them and their situation.
On Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, instead of “counting” RAKs I just did them to honor Dr. King and his legacy of service. Nothing grandeur…just everyday service to my fellow man. Holding doors for people, smiling at strangers, introducing myself and conversing with people I just met, complimenting with sincerity, picking up dropped items for others, saying please and thank you, informing supervisors of the wonderful service their employees gave me, etc. #27 I visited a Nursing Home and I asked if there were any residents who either didn’t have any visitors or who hadn’t had any for quite some time. They introduced me to Miss Ella. Miss Ella and I spent a good deal of time sitting and talking. She was NOT shy, and she told me all kinds of stories about her childhood as well as the loves of her life…her dogs. I lost count of how many dogs she had over her lifetime, but she remembered everything about each of them. What a gem…and her smile still makes me smile just thinking about it! #28 I decided to donate food and bedding material to the local Humane Society. I delivered several bags of dog and cat food as well as the bedding…it was very well received. #29 I bought several pairs of gloves, hats, and scarves. I also bought several tubes of chapstick. My thought was to hand them out to the homeless I often see around town. Today being a super-frigid day/night I decided to drop them off at a Homeless Shelter for distribution. I hope they help to keep several someones warm. #30 I know how tough it is to be a letter carrier out in the elements (especially the day after a holiday). So as I drove to pick up my kids from school I stopped by McDonald’s and bought two Hot Chocolates and then sought out two letter carriers to give them to…they were grateful. #31 I had to fill up the gas tank today so while I was paying for gas I bought five scratch off lottery tickets. As I was out I passed them out to receptionists and mail room attendants. #32 I stopped by my local library branch and dropped off some bookmarks I had made in the children’s area…the kind they can color in as well as mark their places. The librarian kept some at her station to hand out, but most were put on the tables and bookcases. The kids who found them were excited. :) #33 At the library I asked if there were any overdue books with outstanding fines. They couldn’t give me any specific names/amounts but they did have a “fund” for donations…who knew?! I added to the fund so that hopefully someone who can’t afford the fine but really wants to check out books can still do so. ? :)D #34 I bought a teddy bear and a doll and brought them to the Police Station near our home for them to give to traumatized children who they come across during their calls. #35 I dropped off a plate of Brownies at my local Police Station…I also dropped some Brownies off at the Fire Station down the road. #36 DMV workers get a bad rap, so I brought them a basket of goodies-cookies, fruit, and muffins. #37 I brought some flowers to the Volunteer Office at the local Hospital and asked them to choose a patient to receive them. A couple of the volunteers said they knew just who to give them to…and they were off! #38 Last week I was asked for my “secret” recipe for Chex Mix…it took a few days but I finally sent it. Then I took some of it to a neighbor who I do not know very well…he’d helped me one time when I needed a jump so he certainly deserved it! :) #39 On a day when we got a thin layer of freezing rain on top of a dusting of snow Icky windshields were everywhere. Anyway, at the hospital near my home many of the workers have to park on the top floor of the parking garage which leaves their cars exposed to the elements. I bought 10 ice scrapers and put them in a bucket right outside of the elevator with a sign telling folks to take one if they needed one…NOT the day to be without one! #40 I took sidewalk chalk and drew funny pictures and wrote Dr. Seuss quotes on the playground blacktop areas and sidewalks. There were a couple of kiddos who were there who helped me…it was a blast!

#41 It is important to keep family bonds strong. It’s also important to keep the bonds of friendship strong, so I began a Campaign of Love to support a friend who is in need. I contacted several mutual friends and together we are working to brighten our friend’s days to come with special gifts sent one each day. I can’t wait to hear about the joy it brings! #42 I stopped by a daycare that I pass a couple of times a day and dropped off some pre-school toys I had bought for the kiddos to enjoy. The little smiles I saw were priceless. #43 With the permission of a daycare’s teachers I sat down with the children and read a book to a small group of the students. (Boy, I miss that!) It was it’s own reward! #44 ONE TO GROW ON? I brought tennis balls and other toys for the animals at a local shelter.

OK, so that’s actually 44 documented RAKs even though I am turning 43. There were so many more that we did as a part of our normal routine. We don’t often think about some of them as been RAKs, but little things like holding doors for people, complimenting good service, picking up litter, allowing others in front of you in line, or even just smiling at people can make a big difference in their day! See the opportunity for kindness and BE the kindness! ? :)D