Yesterday, while at a bank machine in a very poor part of town, my husband and I found a wallet. We opened it up to look for ID and the first thing we saw was a picture of a toddler sitting on Santa's knee. We knew we had to find this father. We found his drivers licence and gave him a call. His wife answered the phone and told us he was out looking for his wallet. We left our phone number and 10 minutes later he called. He told us because of the poor area of town his friend told him he could say good-bye to the wallet, he would never see it again. He was so grateful, he offered us $100 as a reward. My husband and the gentleman made plans to meet and as my husband was getting ready I gave him one of the smile cards. My ... Read Full Story >>
Across the street from my house live an older couple who are raising their 4 grandchildren, 2 of which are 13-year-old girls.
I always by clothes and shoes and most still have tags on them. I always give stuff away and this time a light flashed in my head - the girls across the street . So I filled up 2 hefty trash bags full of shoes, clothes, purses, shampoo, everything. I didn't want to embarass anybody including myself. I like to do things when nobody knows it's me.
So at the crack of dawn, I tied big beautiful yellow ribbons on the bags, went across the street, and put them over the fence. Later that day, the girls were going in and out of the house trying on all the clothes and shoes . It was like a fashion show and they were so excited - laughing and jumping up and down. Seeing those girls so happy was awesome!
This morning I was walking in a new park that I had just discovered near my house. When I went walking the previous day, the old gardener had asked me if I had some clothes to give him. He was wearing a tattered vest and it was obvious that although so many people frequented the park, nobody had ever spoken to him before. I gave him some nice shirts and some cake that I had at home. The next morning he told me how thankful he was for the shirts. As I walked, I noticed that the sprinkler that he was using to water the plants in the park was leaking in several places. I went home and brought some scotch tape and scissors, and, with his help, I blocked the leakages. I told him he could keep the scotch tape in case he needed it again. It was then that I got to see his ... Read Full Story >>
My husband and I own a lawn care company and so many times we would pass this house that was very unkept as far as the lawn was concerned. Last week, we decided to stop in and see if we could help. Nobody would come to the door for the longest time. Finally, a little old lady came to the door, very reluctant to open the door. We explained to her that we did not want to harm her in anyway. After a few minutes of talking we asked her if we could cut her grass for her? She was quick to answer, "I cannot pay for my grass to be cut, my sister is living with me dying of cancer and it takes everything we make combined to pay for her medicines etc." We had indicated to her that we would just like to do this for her and her ... Read Full Story >>
My mother and grandmother were incredibly generous, giving, and loving people. I think that love and giving go hand in hand.
I remember when I was a little girl there were children over playing at my house. We were out in the yard and there used to be ice cream trucks and their bell would be ringing, calling in the children everywhere, the ice cream man is here! I went running back in the house. I guess ice cream was probably about a nickel, and there were fifteen children on my front porch. There were always a lot of children around there.
My grandmother would give everybody a nickel to go buy ice cream, and if she did not have enough nickels for all the children, then I didn’t get an ice cream either.
When I was growing up in Sierra Leone, Sunday dinners were special. My mom would spend hours making delicious food for dinner and the mouth-watering aroma would fill the house.
In between games, my siblings and I would anxiously check the kitchen to see if dinner was ready. When dinner was done, my mom filled several baskets of food for various families in the neighborhood.
Of course, we wanted to eat first and then deliver the baskets. But my mom would gently insist that we first deliver the food and when we got back, we could all sit down and eat dinner. She pointed out that if we waited to deliver the food after we had dinner, the food we delivered would be cold.
In a simple way, she taught us that giving is not just for when it’s convenient.
One afternoon, he discovered that if he tossed stones over his neighbor’s fence, he could create a crashing sound, the sound of breaking glass. So he would heave a stone and wait for the crash. Heave, crash. It was great fun and felt a little dangerous. He might get caught, after all, but that, to a small boy, was part of the excitement. As it happened, he did get caught. The man who lived next door came to his house and told his parents about the boy and the stones. ‘I would like Juan to come to my home so I can show him a few things,’ the man said, in a tone Juan found rather ominous. His parents, ashamed of and disappointed by their son’s behavior, readily sent their son to the neighbor’s house. Juan sheepishly followed the man into his house, through the back door, and out into the yard. ... Read Full Story >>
My daughter was admitted into the hospital ward for testing. During her stay, I noticed the very old VCR, movies, broken books, and old game systems with poor controllers. What really broke my heart was when they wheeled the VCR into my daughter's room and some of the videos were missing out of the cases. The little boy who made friends with my daughter was upset because his favorite movie was missing. The Nurse went to find out if the movies were misplaced. When she returned, she said the movies were missing. Missing I asked? "Oh yeah," she said "things go missing here all the time. We just got a couple of new movies and they disappeared with in a couple of days." This made me very sad, I knew it wasn't children sneaking out VCR tapes. Parents and vistors had to be behind it. The few things they had to entertain the children were given by ... Read Full Story >>
A couple we know who have fallen on hard times went out of town over the weekend we think to probably regroup and try to re-establish their love for each other so they can weather the adversities they have recently encountered. They are the type of people who will not ask for help and even if it is offered they will not accept it, at least not willingly.
We decided to do something nice for them by doing a quick landscaping job on their entrance walkway. They have a nice paved walkway but on either side it was just bare dirt, not very attractive. We went out and bought some flowers and some red cinders and replanted the walkway and then spread out the cinders for the asthetic look and hopefully to make weeding easier with less weeds able to grow through.
We think it looks great and hope that when they drive in their driveway they wonder if they are at the right house. We feel it is important for them to know that they are special people who have friends who love them.
We had a community garage sale this weekend. Early that morning a man who was staying down the street with his mother stopped by. He is a cabinet maker but there has not been much work for him lately. He has been doing lawn jobs and clean up to make extra money to keep going. He stopped by to ask us if we had any lawn equipment for sale. We didn't but upon hearing his struggles I pulled an extra yard blower/vac out of our cabinet and gave it to him. When he asked how much it was, I just told him he could have it and wished him the best of luck. 2 hours later he came back. He had gone home and tried it out and was happy that it worked great for him! He thanked us again and asked if he could clean up our yard to show ... Read Full Story >>
My daughter works in a drive-thru coffee shop downtown. Our town is small, so we know just about everyone that goes by.
Gena is a less-abled mom who always walks with two crutches and her son, Sam, rides his bike along with her. They don't have a car. The other day a tremendous storm hit and my daughter called to tell me that Gena and Sam were walking in the freezing rain.
I stopped what I was doing and went to pick them up. They were so cold, wet and grateful.
I was so proud of my daughter for taking the initiative to help others!
I ran out of gas less than one block from the local gas station. While waiting in line to ask if they had a gas can I could use, I was watching the new cashier trainee. I was judging his appearance and demeanor: prison tattoos up his neck and down his arms, not making eye contact with the customers nor thanking anyone, insecure about what he was doing...
When my turn came and I asked if they had a gas can. The girl training him (who is familiar with me) said, "No, but we have one you can buy." I like to think that I live in a small town where everyone is able to help one another ... but sometimes not.
The new cashier, however, looked up at me and said, "I have one in the back of my truck you can use, if you'll bring it back."
I thanked him profusely. I was ashamed of how I had been judging and, at the same time, delighted that, once again, the universe had provided me with another lesson in kindness!
There is a big tree in my house where several kilograms of tamarind are available during the right season. Since tamarind is staple food for the South Indian diet, many poor people collect fallen tamarind fruit and dry it to preserve it for the next year. That way they don't need to buy it from the shops. Unlike other houses that have tamarind trees, my parents never shoo away the tamarind pickers from our house. In fact, several urchin children come to my house too and they happily collect the tasty fallen tamarind and nibble them like candy. It's almost become a kind of tradition. I even remember my grandfather actually opening the gate for the street children to pick tamarind! The other day, my mother called an old lady who had come near our gate to discreetly pick tamarind. My father looked aghast, thinking that she was calling the old lady to tell her ... Read Full Story >>
Some years back when I was growing up, we had a young couple who were our neighbours. They had five children and were a fairly established couple, with a car and other amenities. Since we were neighbours, their children were like my brothers and sisters. I must say they lived a good life; their parents took them to better schools than us. In 1988, though, their father passed away. Two years later, their mother died too. All of a sudden, the children became orphans. Some greedy relatives husttled the car and other valuables and the children became destitutes. They moved out of the neighbourhood and went to stay with their grandmother in the village. Fifteen years later (early this year), I ran into one of the boys. I couldn't believe what I was seeing! Somehow the boy remembered me and then we remembered the "good old days" as neighbors. By the time I ... Read Full Story >>
What would it be this morning -- a warm Blueberry Lemon? Banana Nut? Cranberry Orange? Oatmeal Raisin? There is always a warm muffin or two tucked into a white napkin and placed next to the morning newspaper, waiting for me once I open my front door. Who is the Mystery Muffin Giver? I try to wake up early to see if I can catch him/her in the act so far I've been unsuccessful. But no matter what, I've got those goodies and a good read to dwell on! [Now for the background story!] My Mom lives in a Retirement community and she moved in after my Dad passed. She loves it. Most of her neighbors in the apartments are widows just like her and they keep each other good company. In this community, though, while lunches and dinners are prepared in the dining room, there's no breakfast. Now, my mom is an early -- and ... Read Full Story >>
My husband is not a big fan of kids, especially those without manners and that misbehave. One of our neighbors has 3 children and the oldest is Jacob. He's 10 now, but was 5 at the time. Just a big bundle of love and energy, with his bright blue eyes, red hair, freckles and braces. (For you all that remember Mayberry RFD on TV- he's Opie's look-alike! For the rest of you, he's a darling! I just love him to death). For some reason, he took a liking to my husband. Everytime he saw him, Jacob would wave, dash across the street and come visit. If he was in the garage repairing his bikes or in the front yard cleaning, Jacob would wave, dash across the street and come visit. Jacob would always ask so many questions and keep my hubby company. They would ride bikes together, and what not. They really seemed ... Read Full Story >>
In a fast-paced city like New York, one can spend a lot of time thinking about doing big things to spread smiles in the city. But often, it is the spontaneous, simple and small ideas that do the job. Take our lemonade stand, in the heart of New York City. Spontaneously decided over coffee one day, and six days later, five of us were at Central Park at 5PM, handing out "free lemonade" to all passerby's who wanted it! "Why are you doing this?" "Just because." "Is it really free?" "Yes. Spread the joy, pay it forward." "Can I take some more smile cards?" "Absolutely." "I'd like to help you give out lemonade." "Sure thing." We collected 250 smiles and were out of lemonade in all but ONE hour! The box of 1000 Smile Cards that we started with was down to 200, thanks to everyone. =) About 5 minutes after we started, ... Read Full Story >>
Another glorious Saturday afternoon in Central Park found six members of our Lemonade Brigade ready to collect more smiles and give out some just-because lemonade! Week one of our experiment in kindness went so well that we decided to set up our gift-economy lemonade stand at the exact same spot as we did last week. As usual, our blown-up smile card poster started drawing in the crowds before the lemonade was ready to be served. Pavitra has become a seasoned professional in the art of lemonade-making after just one week, and worked tirelessly to make sure the mouthwatering lemonade kept flowing. Ria, our 2.5-year-old Ambassador of Smiles, had on another one of her adorable outfits and this time came armed with a bubble-making gun to entertain the passersby – who could resist that? And the rest of us were brimming with energy and the anticipation of connecting ... Read Full Story >>
At the local Automated Teller Machine (ATM) in my city center, one thing's for sure -- I will find a young anxious teen fundraising. It's the hub for school teams and local organizations. At anytime day or night, you can find children of all ages, selling processed nuts, candy, cookies or popcorn. It's not so easy to sell those to ATM clients, and I feel their uneasiness as they look at you with big pleading eyes. Everyone dodges eye contact with the kids and that only makes it worse. Today was no exception. My heart began to skip a beat or two, as I approached the ATM. It was getting dark and the young boy had a box half filled with chocolate covered raisins. I asked him, "How much for each box of raisinettes?" He said, "Two dollars". I said, “I'll tell you what. I will buy the rest of the box, ... Read Full Story >>
When we moved into our new home in January, we didn't really know what we were getting into. We just knew that we were getting the deal of a life time and so when our offer was accepted, we couldn't refuse! We jumped on it and thought that, that would be that. Our next door neighbors weren't exactly part of the deal but they ended up being the best blessing! Since that day, we have now become family. With every little special occasion or event in our lives, they are there to share the joy with us and they have helped us in so many ways that we some times find it hard to believe. I've never had my license and even though I wanted to get one, the thought of the cost of a car, insurance and all that just over whelmed me, but with the help of our new family I ... Read Full Story >>
When my wife, Beth, and I moved from the suburbs to a warehouse loft in the center of a large city, Beth embraced every aspect of urban life -- even the sirens, the parking problems, and the car alarms at night. The homeless people made me nervous, but Beth learned their names. The only neighbors who bothered her were the guys who ran the tattoo parlor across the street. They got into traffic-stopping fights, harassed women on the sidewalk, and intimidated men. They were the reason Beth didn’t walk on that side of the street. For two years she glared out our window at the row of men sitting in front of the shop and fantasized about shooting out their tires. Then one day she called me at work to tell me she was getting a tattoo. She’d never wanted a tattoo before and had even taken pride in being one of ... Read Full Story >>
Neha is the recently-turned-eight year old across the street. Every encounter with her is an Edifying Experience. A few mornings ago she skipped over with her grandmother and our share of homemade Divali sweets. I was en route with basket in hand to our back yard to gather the morning flowers- “Pavithrakka can I also come? I am loving flow-ers very much,” says Neha in her fun, formal, not always grammatically correct but unfailing confident English. Of course I say and we head towards the Coral Jasmine tree out back- a tall slender trunked tree that rains white fragrant blossoms with bright orange stalks on the grass during the nights all year round- but in the monsoon season when it rains it pours and the grass and the ground beneath the tree is literally carpeted in white and orange – blossoms that can be picked up by the careful-not-to-crush fistful. ... Read Full Story >>
In my town in South Asia, every third Wednesday there is a electric shut down from 9AM to 6PM.
Even thought we all knew about it, many of us would forget and not make the adjustments necessary to pull on without a day of electricity.
Well, one of our neighbors had this habit -- he used to call everyone at 7AM to remind us about the power shut down so that we can get things done before the 9AM deadline.
How kind he has been, all these years! Sometimes it is the simplest things in life that touch the soul.
There is an elderly man who lives up the street from us. He has no one to shovel his driveway. He is a bit of a miser so most people aren't so inclined to help. One day, I don't know who did it, but someone used the sticky snow on his driveway to make a whole bunch of snowmen on his lawn facing his front window. They were all smiling and waving and his driveway got cleared in the making of them. As my son and I were walking by, I could hear him grumbling under his breath. "What's the problem?" I asked him. He complained that someone had trespassed on his lawn and made a bunch of snowmen. My son, not knowing what trespass meant, assumed this was a good thing. He said "Wow, sir, that's the biggest bestest present I've ever seen!!" Innocently, he then turned to me asked, ... Read Full Story >>
I work in a bank and have lovely relationships with many of the customers. Its not one of those banks with long lines -- its the kind of bank when you walk in, everyone says hi, we know when your husband has surgery, or the grandkids are coming for the weekend, we know your name and speak like friends. One of my customers in his 70's owns and runs a barber school in East Baltimore. He is connected with several nonprofits and I have 2 nonprofits of my own - we are like kindred spirits! One days, he said to me that I really had to meet his niece in Florida -- Dee. The next day Dee called me and we talked about her projects of gathering blankets for the homeless and pitching in the community wherever there is need. We spoke for over an hour and found out how much we ... Read Full Story >>
Mr Mitchell was our neighbour for a while. He and his wife had been the terrors of the local kids before we came to the square. If a ball went into their garden it was never seen again-- that kind of thing. Well, she was gone now and Mr Mitchell was in his late eighties. The rose garden he had planted for her was an overgrown jungle and that was how I came into his story. I knew he was infirm, but I didn't know if he had any help and none of the other neighbours cared anymore. (They'd put up with it a lot longer than we had.) One summer Mr Mitchell was taken into hospital for a short stay. While he was away I thought he might like to come home to a neat and tidy garden, one he could sit out in on sunny days. Even to get into ... Read Full Story >>
My husband and I are lucky to have landed together in a new country just a month ago. We were sort of afraid about what's in store for us. When we landed at the airport, a tall man with smiling eyes greeted us. The days and months were somehow made easy for us by this kind man. He greeted us everyday with his smiling face. He accompanied us in going to the bank, in buying our groceries, in telling us where to buy paint, where the coffee shop is, where to have key duplication, where to buy almost everything. He told us he is our big brother. Twice, we watched the match in a coffee shop. During the first get together, we saw how his eyes beamed in happiness. He told us that we're lucky - my husband and I are together in this foreign land. He said he has been ... Read Full Story >>
Hello, You dont know me or do you? I cant tell you who I am so just call me Ms Secret Smile.
I have volunteered to send smile cards and I sent out my first batch this week. It was a challenge for me because I am not in the best finacial condition but I wanted to partake so badly. So I committed myself to send smile cards for as long as I can.
There was someone who stood out in my shipping list. The address was litterally around the corner from my home. I had an idea. I was going to give this person 20 of my own smile cards on top of the 10 she would receive from HelpOthers. I also gave a card to her explaining why I bought the cards personally and it was all wrapped up in a ribbon with a smile ballon waving in the air. I placed it in her mail box and rang bell the bell until someone opened the door. With speedy footsteps, I ran away from the home hoping to escape before they came out to look.
I have been smiling all night wondering what she thought.
Sometimes you read a story that just takes root in your heart. Many stories on the helpothers.org website have been like that for me: "I Wish You Enough" by BrightEyes and "An Unforgettable Fishing Experience" by Mike Delyria to name just two. Well this story I'm about to share with you has been growing in the heart of many people on Cape Ann, where I live. It is the story of Jude, a young deaf man with green thumbs and a big heart who recently opened a plant store in our community called The Silent Seed. I first heard about him from my friend Nana who had noticed the new store during one of her walks and was so inspired by the owner that she felt called to draw the whole neighborhood's attention to his work. A few days later, my friend Loretta who lives in a totally different part of ... Read Full Story >>
My cousin Heidi was stricken around age 16 with a debilitating disease, which took her life about 20 years later. As the disease progressed, she became wheelchair bound and unable to easily communicate (I'm not sure of the disease -- it may have been a combination, including Parkinson's). When she was in her late 20's, she would often have her mother take her out into the front yard when the weather was nice so that she could sit in her wheelchair and watch the cars pass by. One day, my aunt was doing dishes and looked out the window to see a car pulled to the side of the road and a man approaching Heidi. In a panic, she ran outside, wondering who this person was that was approaching her daughter. When she arrived where my cousin was sitting, the man was kneeling before her placing a bouquet of flowers in her lap ... Read Full Story >>