I'm in Africa right now on a peace-keeping mission with the Army. This is my 5th deployment and I volunteered for every one of them (sort of). Anyway, this story is not about me or the army or even Africa for that matter. It's about the way people can become karma aides even when they are in need of it themselves. I subscribed to this online program for soldiers, where we put our addresses on the website and random people write to us and send care packages and thank you letters. I got one the other day that was a letter from a lady living in Pennsylvania. She was thanking us for all we do and telling us how much she prays for the troops. This lady is originally from Russia, married an American soldier and moved to Pennsylvania. She explained all of this in her letter. I was moved by ... Read Full Story >>
Two of my dear friends got married last Saturday, May 2nd -- a special date for the wonderful souls. But what it was even more special was their intention: "We would like our wedding, and in fact our entire marriage to be about creating more good in the world." When I got their *personalized* wedding invitation exuding love, creativity and inspiration, my heart was instantaneously filled with gratitude and joy. Circumstances didn't allow me to attend their wedding in person, but I tried to celebrate their union in a unique way. Ever since I received their invitation, two and half months ago, I thought about this wonderful couple -- every day, twice a day actually. I thought of the fusion of these two beautiful hearts, and I sent along my secular blessings. (I guess I took the inscription on their wedding invite literally: "No gifts please - Your Blessings is our Gift"). That ... Read Full Story >>
There was about 15 of us folks chalking in front of the downtown Berkeley BART station. We started with about ten adventurers and as the momentum increased, we gained more energy, creative inspiration, and people. In the beginning, many pedestrians stopped by us, paused briefly out of curiousity, and for the most part remained rather perplexed by our so-called 'deviant' behavior. However, after we chalked up some cheerful colors and phrases on the beautiful red stones in the area, people came over just to take a peek and see what adults chalkers really do. Folks came by with cameras. Small children pointed at us and tugged the hands of their parents to have them take a look. This one particular man in a suit came out of the station, appearing as if he had had an exhausting day. Yet, he managed to trudge a bit closer to us to read the ... Read Full Story >>
One evening in July, a few friends and I decided we would get together to brainstorm an idea for a local Smile Card event in London -- something we could do as a group to share smiles anonymously and cultivate kindness in our hearts. We came up with a few suggestions and then picked an idea that got everyone excited and moved ahead with planning it – we were going to bake and decorate 200 cupcakes, buy a bunch of sweets, make some fun smile posters and give it all away at Hyde Park! Our little team of 6 people spent a month planning every fine detail from inviting friends to get involved, baking cupcakes ahead of time, buying supplies, getting t-shirts that say SMILE and a banner with a giant Smile Card on it and visiting the park ahead of time to find the perfect spot for the event. A special thanks ... Read Full Story >>
This week we took a handcrafted sign that we made down to our local Salvation Army and presented it to the captain. The sign read ‘HOPE’. He had an idea of where to put it as soon as he read it. The look on his face showed appreciation, with a touch of bewilderment. This organization sees, first-hand, the struggles of so many people. The reason we made and gifted them the sign is to help lives, who are in need of believing in a better tomorrow. A simple word can say so much. Life dishes out hard hits and unjust situations for all of us, at one time or another. We hope for an answer, a change of circumstance, or even a miracle. Some are hanging on to hope with all the strength they have. What would life be like living with no hope? What would the world be like? To ... Read Full Story >>
This weekend, a group of us were in Union Square, New York, watching Tylon and Macho, two contortionists and street dancers, put on a jaw dropping performance that included jumping over 7 people. At the end, the hundreds of people watching began putting money into their bucket.
One tiny little girl walks up with her mom, she couldn't have been more than 2 years old. Tylon, who grew up in the Harlem projects, reaches into his bucket, folds up a couple of dollar bills, and hands them to the little girl. Everyone who witnessed it was stunned and humbled by this pure act of giving. Our jaws dropped for a second time.
Inspired, my bro, Shrey, later pulled out several more bills and we snuck them into Tylon's bucket without him seeing. His small, simple act of giving will not be forgotten.
If you happen to be in New York, be sure to catch these do-gooders Thurs-Sun evenings in Union Square, across from the Whole Foods!
Last year, around Labor Day, I read a "Happy Ad" in our local newspaper. There was a lady in a local nursing home, who was celebrating her 90th birthday and her family wanted everyone to know about it. It said that if you wanted to drop her a line, here was her address. So I did. I found a birthday card and dropped her a short note, wishing her a happy birthday. A week or so later, someone knocked at my front door. I opened the door and found a middle-aged man standing on my doorstep. He introduced himself as the son of this woman to whom I had sent the card. He explained that he just wanted to drop by in person and thank me for sending such a nice card to his mom. Apparently, like many older folks, she did not receive much mail and was quite excited to receive mine. I ... Read Full Story >>
There's a woman I work with who is very shy. She doesn't usually share much about herself so I don't know her very well. At the beginning of the week, a group of my co-workers and I were gathered around the water fountain. This woman was there too. Usually she is fairly quiet, but today she was unloading all her woes.....I listened (without interrupting) while she shared her many concerns and life challenges with the group. Some of the group rolled their eyes or tried to change the subject I suspected because they did not want their precious break time spent on someone else's problems. I could tell she was really stressed and disheartened. Even, her appearance spoke volumes - her posture was poor with slumped shoulders, she has deep furrow lines on her forehead, her eyes had no sparkle and she had dark circles. She seemed to be surrounded by ... Read Full Story >>
It had been a long time since I had been to Jacksonville, Florida. I had driven to town hoping to see the old barber shop where my hair had been cut as a child. The orphanage would bring us kids downtown for a free haircut by the new barbers being trained. As I wondered around, I was a little disappointed when I saw the old buildings that I had known as a young boy were now gone. Every one of them had been replaced with new high-rise buildings. As it was very early and hardly anyone was on the street, I parked my truck and decided to try and locate a telephone to see if the Florida Barber College had moved to a new location. Hopefully it was sill in business. As it was rather cold, I put on my coat and began searching for a telephone. After walking about a ... Read Full Story >>
She was a janitor at a school in India. Her husband died soon after her marriage, she didn't have any family in the area. She struggled with the responsibility of raising her kids. For the last twenty years, she's continued to sweep classrooms at local schools. One day, though, she had a radical idea: I want to give. It was followed-up by a reasonable yet confusing thought: But what can I possibly give? When she narrated her desire to a friend, he told her a story. "Gandhi used to write many letters. One day, Kakasaheb Kalelkar, a famous Indian author, saw him writing with a tiny pencil and immediately offered Gandhi a bigger pencil from his pocket. Gandhi politely said that he didn't need it. The next day, he saw Gandhi scrambling to find his pencil and Kakasaheb again offered him a pencil saying, 'Your pencil was so small anyway.' Gandhi gently ... Read Full Story >>
The following passage is a healthy prescription of how we can approach life. It is not about being famous or being wealthy or about our good looks. Truly, it is all about love. There are times when we feel as if we are separated from the rest. This illusion creates a mental prison. Hence, we should strive to internally liberate ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living things. "Open your heart to others and try to understand, When someone reaches for you, hold out to them your hand, Follow your heart, no matter what other people say, Do things that make you able to smile throughout your day, Treat other people, the way you would like them to treat you, Do what you know is right and to your heart and self stay true, Remember what life is all about, it is how you make people feel, What you do, where you go, and making dreams become real, Helping people through, in hard times of ... Read Full Story >>
A mother and daughter living in my complex are two of the most unfriendly people I have ever come across in my life. They are totally withdrawn, mixing with no one. As they drive past neighbors they keep their eyes averted and make no sign of acknowledgement. The only fame they have is making a nuisance of themselves to the local police station by reporting music played too loud, dogs barking more than once a day and any other petty little gripe. On moving into this neighborhood, I was warned about these two but decided I would make up my own mind. This proved quite a challenge to me as more than once either the mother or the daughter would knock on my door and blast me with some complaint or other. My warfare? I always answered politely and made sure I waved as they went past my place and also made ... Read Full Story >>
I had titled the event “24 hours of kindness.” The goal was simple: to stay out for a full twenty-four hours without sleep, performing as many acts of kindness as possible. Thanks to our local radio station, Coast 93.1, and the support of Tim Wright and Eva Matteson, (two of the most kindhearted DJs you’ll ever meet) all of southern Maine now knew about The Kindness Center’s crazy event. Now known as “The Kindness Guy,” this was my first attempt at something this big. The local and even national media buzz was incredible. Since 9:00 that morning, two of my kindness cronies and I had been all over town delivering free baked goods to nursing homes and schools, buying coffee for strangers, giving out hugs, moving furniture, giving free city bus rides and completely flooding the town with a rainbow of flowers and balloons. Since it was April 15th, “tax ... Read Full Story >>
One Year for Christmas, my brother Chris and and his wife Julie gave each of us siblings a very thoughtful gift. Inspired by the book: "The Christmas Jar", by Jason F. Wright, they gave each sibling's family an empty quart size Mason Jar. A slot was cut in the plastic lid, and inside were a number of stickers and ribbons to decorate the jar with. In the book: The Christmas Jar, Hope Jensen, in a moment of great grief and monetary loss, is anonymously gifted a small jar of Money. Moved, humbled, and transformed by this gift, her own faith in humanity is resurrected, as she searches for and ultimately finds the donors. When we opened the package from my brother, inside, along with the jar and a copy of the book, was a note which read: " In honor of the spirit of giving we were taught by Mama Rose and Papa ... Read Full Story >>
Last winter I was going through a rough patch in my life. I had a bunch of terrible things going on around me. I felt very distant and became quite selfish. I hated the way I was feeling and one day I woke up and told myself, “You are above this, stop feeling sorry for yourself.” Then, I tried out an experiment, and it has DEFINITELY changed me for the better. Every day I would do at least one act of kindness - It could be anything… Bringing the trash down to the trash compactor for my 80 year old neighbor, Going into the store to buy something for myself (like a bit of makeup) and coming out with something for someone else (like candy for my boyfriend) Sitting down with my sister or a friend and just simply listening. And I can ... Read Full Story >>
Once a year my Great Aunt Glenna (both in relation and in just plain greatness) gets all the ladies in the family together for a weekend at a cabin set in the woods. There are no distractions like television or radio. It is a time to commune with nature and to draw close to one another. We always have the MOST wonderful time! At the most recent of these get-togethers, I decided it would be a lot of fun to get a smile card going. I envisioned it would be passed from lady to lady with one kind act after another the whole weekend. The first morning I put a bag of mini M&M's in my Great Aunt Dorris' shoe related to a precious story she told about her grandson. It started a string of questions aimed at uncovering the doer of the ANONYMOUS act of kindness. I was suspect number one but I would never admit to it. It did ... Read Full Story >>
The green box on HelpOthers.org talks about a $100 contest I submitted an idea that I would love to do. I loved the idea so much that I decided to go ahead and do it, only on a smaller scale. If I am selected as a winner of the $100 contest, I will do it on the large scale. (fingers crossed) Since I work at a Bank getting the supplies for my idea was easy: a plastic checkbook cover and a transaction register (normally for a checking account). Next I wrote a message on the inside cover: "Congratulations! You are currently the bearer of the Smile Transaction Register. This kindness checkbook began its journey with $20. Your only job is to keep it going. Don't keep it long. Look over the entries in the register to get some ideas of how to spread small acts of kindness. You can either make a deposit if the funds ... Read Full Story >>
I recently got a new version of an old camera that I used to adore... Polaroid instant film! This one is a Fuji, which takes credit card sized instant photos. I named my camera "J5", (after Johnny #5 the Robot, from the '80's films "Short Circuit", mainly because it looks like him :) In J5's short career (this past month), he has blasted off about 80 photographs, and 60+ have been given away to complete strangers. Each photograph is unique, simple, imperfect and beautiful, as those captured within the photos had a story to tell. So far, one story stands out above them all. Last Wednesday, I was in the play area of the Harrisburg Mall. I sat next to a woman who was there with her son. She was very classy, seemed to have it all together. I would have assumed that she had a sweet, upper-middle class life. As it turned ... Read Full Story >>
I need to share a powerful and strangely wonderful event in my life that involves death and cancer. I am certain you are struggling with the fact that I am using the words wonderful, cancer and death in the same sentence. I think that after you hear this story you will agree that in this case it is an appropriate combination of words. A dear friend of mine was dying of cancer. Shortly before she died she shared with me that she was very sad that she would never get to go to the beach again. She grew up near the ocean and it was a special place for her. The cancer had made her too weak to travel the 4-5 hours from her home to the ocean. I shared this with several of her friends and we decided we had to do something about it. On a Saturday afternoon in June, while her family kept her distracted ... Read Full Story >>
On my way out the building in the morning, I search my pockets for 5 rupee coins. If I have one, I go to the shop downstairs and buy 5 packets of Gems-- an Indian version of M&Ms. There are 3 Gems per packet, giving me 14 chances to make someone smile (there would be 15 but invariably the first Gem ends up in my own mouth!). On the first day, I gave one each to the two youngs sons of my dhobi (washerman), and to the boy who lives in the makeshift shack in front of my building. Their hands were really dirty so I put them straight into their mouths. I thought for a second about giving them an impromptu lesson in hand-washing, but they are too young to understand Hindi and I haven't learned enough Kannada to explain properly. Next time I'll pick up the basics, and use ... Read Full Story >>
I live in a big Scandinavian city that unfortunately has a lot of homeless people. Luckily there are small ways of helping them even though you may not have a lot of money. One way to help is to buy their monthly magazine. By doing this one day, I got to know a young homeless man who was often standing at the train station, selling the magazine. He was a refugee from another country and I can only imagine what kind of psychological scars he must have had from living in a war-torn country, escaping it and then ending up being homeless. After a while, I discovered that his birthday was close to mine which meant that we were born under the same sign of the Zodiac, something we talked about once in a while. I met him last year shortly after his birthday, and without thinking, after congratulating him, I asked if he had had ... Read Full Story >>
I returned from a lovely holiday with my family and sang in a number of different concerts around the Bay of Plenty and Waikato regions in New Zealand. It is always such an honour seeing the joy on people's faces. One concert we sang at was at a local rest-home/retirement village. It was nice to see 100 elderly people so happy after we, "The Short Sistars," had sung. It was so wonderful to see so many happy faces, all saying they want us to come back and sing again soon. So next Uni holidays the managers have invited us to come and perform again. When our music fills the air, I love seeing these elderly people, who aren't in the best of health, and the beaming smiles appearing across their faces as if they feel at peace, maybe :) Then spent the second week down in Palmerston North..Visiting my sick Grandma in hospital everyday and looking after ... Read Full Story >>
I recieved my new Smile Deck (a deck of cards with a unique kindness idea on each card) from HelpOthers.org. I have distributed a few of the cards (asking, of course, that they be returned to me as soon as the mission on that card is completed). I have not yet heard back any stories from the cards I sent out but I look forward to hearing them and to sharing them here with all of you. :) I drew one card myself. It was the Ace of Spades. The task on the card was to make signs about conserving water and distribute them in public places. I used 'Word' to make the signs. I put a pretty picture of a leaf with water droplets on it at the top and then listed 5 easy practical ways YOU can conserve water and then printed off a few copies. I posted one in the laundry matt near where I ... Read Full Story >>
I was at Karma Kitchen, a gift economy project, when a volunteer asked if anyone could use some free drink coupons for a particular airline. I enthusiastically accepted, knowing that even though I don't usually drink, I could use those free drink coupons to "tag" someone with a smilecard. I loved the idea of "tagging" someone with a smilecard and a free drink coupon on an airplane! Fast forward a month or two later, when my girlfriend and I were on a flight to Las Vegas as the first stop of a trip to the Grand Canyon. I had several drink coupons and smilecards ready, and it was just a matter of figuring out the "Who" and the "How" of tagging someone on an airplane, while still trying to stay completely anonymous. As luck would have it, we had an awesome, amazing, hilarious flight attendant, who was very, very funny (he really could have been ... Read Full Story >>
I entered the monthly Kindness contest, answering the question, "What would you do with $100 to help your community?" I said that I would buy 100 cake mixes and bake 100 cakes and deliver them to 100 different blocks in my community, encouraging the recipients to share their cakes with their neighbors! I wanted to deliver not only food for their bellies, but food for their souls! I wanted to show the love that I had for my community and encourage others to talk with or meet their neighbors! I named the idea, "Compassionate Cakes". To my surprise, my idea was chosen and a $100 check was sent to me to do my project! Now, I had to get to work. I bought the cake mixes and made "tags" telling the recipients about the project and encouraging them to visit the website, www.helpothers.org. I added a "tag" to each cake delivered. ... Read Full Story >>
I work with a warm, fun-loving woman named Heather. This year our boss asked a group of us to join his family on Thanksgiving. Seated around the table, Heather said something had totally changed her the day before -- like she was walking in a new direction. I listened and watched as her eyes welled with tears. Heather deals daily with people on the telephone. She was speaking with a Veteran and asked if he was looking forward to Thanksgiving. She was surprised when he said no, and asked why. He had been let go from his job more than a month before and was having a tough time making ends meet. He shared how hard it was to feel powerless to provide a Thanksgiving meal for his wife and children. She wished him a happy holiday and good luck. There was nothing to do but say good-bye and hang-up. But I must do ... Read Full Story >>
Thank you so much!! I had sent a request for 30 smile cards for all my Christmas acts. In the request I said that if it's not possible for them to send me these cards I totally understand because after all I do live a long way down in New Zealand. I didn't hear anything more and just happily accepted that I won't be receiving any smile cards. Last night I arrived home to find a package with about 278 smile cards inside!! This arrived a few weeks after I placed the request...I couldn't believe it!! That was something I sooo wasn't expecting! I was so overwhelmed, thinking is this a mistake? Here is what I use my smile cards for.... - Whenever I send out cards or presents in New Zealand or around the world I always include a smile card inside. I have sent out quite a few cards out to quite a number ... Read Full Story >>
My church was assigned Valentine’s Day to serve a meal to homeless people. After reading a HelpOthers.org story about giving flowers out at a meal program, I formed the idea to augment our church activity with some colorful floral life. Building off of my intention, a fellow church member came forward to help pay for the flowers. At the event, we fed the hungry souls until they were stuffed, and then we gave flowers to anyone who wanted one. Our pastor even joined in to pass out flowers at the tables.
Later that day, I saw a lady with a carnation in her hand hugging the pastor, which led me to believe that the flower must have touched her in a special way. It is great that through a simple idea on this website, we were able to bring the food serving experience to a deeper level with some flower power!
Today it is 39 degrees and supposed to be raining. It would have been the perfect day for me to act upon my Kindness Idea. I was the lucky winner of the December Kindness Idea's Contest on Helpothers.org - where they give you $100 to carry out your kindness idea. My idea was to purchase umbrellas for shelter on a rainy day and small towels to wife your face and hopefully bring a little smile into your day and hand them out to folks who find themselves caught out in the weather unprepared. Once I received the check for $100 I ran right out and purchased umbrellas and towels. I laundered the towels and wrapped them around the umbrellas and banded them with a smile card. I placed them them in plastic bags to protect them from moisture, dirt and grime! Then I waited on the rain!!! Lately we’ve had plenty snow…but no rain. Yesterday the rains came! Where were the ... Read Full Story >>
Earlier this year, I submitted an idea to the Helpothers.org Kindness Contest. I was lucky enough to be selected a winner for my idea and received a $100 to throw an ice-cream party for the children in the ART (Acute Residential Treatment Center) at the Walker Home & School in Massachusetts. This institution serves the complex needs of a diverse group of children, from those with severe mental illnesses to those who have experienced abuse, neglect or other catastrophic challenges in their young lives. The simple joy of knowing that even children who struggle with daily living can find pleasure in an ice cream party really meant the world to the staff who support them. It was also important to me becausse it reminded me of how The Walker Home saved my son Evan's life when no other organization could understand him. In saving our son's life, they saved our family from crumbling as well. Walker ... Read Full Story >>