Every since I was little I loved doing things for other people. As I got older I began doing random things for people. For example, during holidays, such as Christmas, I would make out an extra card along with the ones for my relatives. Then I would go and find someone in the grocery store and just hand it to them and walk away! It was so much fun. Although I admit, the first time I did it I was so nervous. I didn't know who to give the card to. So I said a little prayer and knew that the right person would just appear...about that time an elderly man ran into me with his shoppping cart!! It was an accident, and he apologized a million times! We smiled and he walked away, and I knew that he was the one! Later I found him in a different isle, ... Read Full Story >>
Got on the plane in Minneapolis for the two hour and nine minute flight to NY. Spent the first nine minutes of it talking to the young curly-brown-haired passenger with long sideburns. In the first three minutes of talking to him I noticed on the back of his hand a ball-point-pen tattoo. One word. "Lost". And for some reason that touched me. In the same inexplicable way that "Help Wanted" signs in store windows do sometimes. That people would be so honest, so open about their vulnerability. I wonder what he is going through. This fellow passenger with his friendly manner who freelances for the magazine "Popular Photography" and moved back to his hometown in Lawrence, Kansas from NY- because even though there's a lot you can do in NY there's a lot that you can't do there when you're broke. And now he's learning how to do video editing and trying to ... Read Full Story >>
I was at work and it had been snowing all day. I peeked outside about an hour before leaving work and I was terrified to see that every square inch of my car had been blanketed in about 8 inches of snow. I stayed in the office a few minutes after 5 trying to figure out how I would get the snow off of my car in heals, a skirt and no window scraper! I finally sucked it up and walked outside. To my surprise as well as relief, my car was completely clean of snow. My windows were scraped, even the headlights had been cleaned off! "Who did this?" I was puzzled, but so grateful! The next day at work, I prodded everyone I knew to find the culprit, but no one could tell me....they all denied the good deed. The following day, a co-working named Brian said "So, were you wondering who cleaned off your car?" I knew then that Brian was my little snow angel. He said, "Yeah, my car was heating up, I needed something to do for 5 or 10 minutes." He brushed it off as if it was an act of boredom, but I know that he has a kind and pure heart and what he did was an act of kindness.
I traveled to Ethiopia last year with my business partner and president of OLA's Exotic Coffee & Tea. We are a coffee company that imports coffee from Africa and traveled to Ethiopia to visit the coffee plantations and speak with the government about investing. One day our entourage traveled about 4 hours from the capital to visit the Yirgacheffe coffee region. There we were looking to survey some coffee processing plants to possibly purchase. It rained heavily that day and there was a flash flood in a nearby village that we had to travel through to reach the farm. After we surveyed our last coffee farm, we climbed into the 4 cars we traveled in and began the long journey back to our hotels. As we were leaving though, through the rain and soggy conditions, Ola our CEO waved his hands to stop the cars. ... Read Full Story >>
Back in the day when I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life, I was studying to become a firefighter. I was a volunteer fire aide with the city of Milpitas, and was studying at mission college. As a firefighter, you're constantly thinking of other people and trying to help children. That's the mindset, at least for someone trying to get into a fraternity of brothers that is the No. 1 most difficult job in the country to get! One night after going to class I was heading home and decided to stop off at a burrito place. This was in a part of San Jose that wasn't very good. It was dark, and it was obvious that I wasn't in a place that I would normally go to. Well I got my burrito and started to head for my car when I was approached by a homeless ... Read Full Story >>
Last week, I was running a little late on my way to my first day at a new job in East London. I had injured my achilles heal a couple of days before and didn't want to put too much pressure on it by running to the tube station so I decided to jump in a cab just to get to the station. The cab driver was really warm and friendly and happened to ask me where I was off to. So, I told him how I was on my way to start a new job and was running a little late to get to the tube station. En route, about half way there, he realized that the road was closed ahead and told me that as a result this is as far as he'll be able to take me. Of course I said no ... Read Full Story >>
We recently bought some furniture from a shop, and they really worked hard to make sure it reached us within 2 days. So I just thought I’d buy a box of chocolates for the salesman, who really did a good job on selling us on it. I walked into the store, and Daniel sees me, and I can tell, there's a little bit of apprehension in the air, as I’m guessing that most customers go back to complain. He says "Hello, Sir! How are you doing?" And I'm holding the chocolates in front of me, and so I tell him, "Good. I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful furniture, and working with us to make it happen. Our whole family loves it, we've even taken pictures and sent them to other family and they love it too. Thanks for going the extra mile for us! These chocolates ... Read Full Story >>
It was a typical winter morning, just a couple of weeks before Christmas 2005: While most people were warming up their cars, my husband got up early to ride his bike the four kilometres to his job at Mr. Lube. When my husband arrived at work, he parked his bike outside the back doors as he usually does. After putting in 10 solid hours of labour, he returned to find his bike was gone–stolen. The bike, a purple kona 18 speed, was our only source of transportation. Trevor used that bike to get to both his jobs, putting in 60-hour weeks to support his young family. But the bike was not only used for work. It was also used to get groceries, saving us from having to walk long distances from where we live. I was so upset that someone would steal his bike that I wrote to ... Read Full Story >>
A dear friend was only weeks away from death from cancer. She said she was sorry she wouldn't be able to see the ocean again and get her toes in the sand. We live in Central Virginia and she was unable to travel so the trip to the coast wasn't going to happen. Some of us decided the solution was pretty simple. We would surprise her and bring the beach to her. The beach included three tons of beautiful white sand dumped in her driveway, two cabanas, beach balls, pails, shovels, beach chairs, a variety of decorations and a fire pit for the bonfire on the beach at night. Of course we had s'mores on the beach. We also rented a sno-cone machine since it had gotten to the point where flavored ice was about all she was able to eat. We ... Read Full Story >>
She stood looking at every tag on the tree for over an hour. Ten years old and a heart of gold, she decided that she would give up one of her Christmas gifts to the boy named Joseph who needed clothes but wanted a skateboard.
Money was tight in our household but her argument was "Mom, I have a lot to be thankful for; maybe he doesn't have that much." That year when she unwrapped her empty gift box, she read the word Joseph in it. My daughter smiled her beautiful smile and we cried.
Ten years later, I lost that daughter in a car accident.
It's been 9 years and each Christmas I stand in front of the tree of angels at the store for an hour, searching for the "Josephs" who will get her gifts.
One year, a 15 year old girl wrote, "My baby brother needs clothes more than I need a photo album and film." So I got her box of scrapbook and photo supplies and I hope they had as much fun with it as I had shopping for her.
I know my Angel girl was watching over me that year. The girl's name was Johanna ... the same as my daughter.
She recognized my face, but didn't know my name. It didn't seem to matter though. For me, it had been more than two years since I saw her, but my guess was that this had nothing to do with me. She had gone through a lot, that much was clear. In the past, it was tough to tell if her continual distress was a result of on-going chaos or the residual mental effects of prior suffering. Not only was she not open about this, but found ways to inappropriately interject her own issues into any conversation and lead it down a negative path, which meant that most people would try and end their conversation with her in the first minute. The moment I was free, she rushed over to talk to me. We moved quickly from the opening pleasantries to heavy issues-- abuse, immigration matters, law suits, discrimination, exploitation-- that had all been a part ... Read Full Story >>
What people appreciate the most is the people. That’s what we learn at the annual "Walk for Hope" each year. Sure the quotes are great. This year they were even hand made and literally took over three months to create. The activity stations are great too, they give the walkers a chance to pause, interact and reflect. But year after year, people always say that the best part of the walk is interacting with all the people that are there. What a concept, just your mere presence becomes a gift at the walk for hope. Just by choosing to walk, you are giving a gift to another walker. The people that come to the Walk are pretty unique I would agree. They participate in both the moments of silence and the warm-up exercises by the Laker Girls. They wish to make the ... Read Full Story >>
It's a late night on the streets of New York. Larger-than-life size billboards come alive with their glitz, trying to make you want things that you don't really need. Up ahead, I notice a homeless man who doesn't have the things he really does need. Ironic. "Gift size chocolate bar, one dollar, one dollar," he says while showing a candy bar to people walking by. He's rejected. "Just one dollar." Rejected again. "Candy bar, candy bar for you," he shows it to a child walking with her mom. The mom jerks her kid away and moved further. They say that homeless are used to taking rejections, but seeing the charades ahead of me, I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. As I stand next to him, shoulder to shoulder, I pause to see if he will try to sell me ... Read Full Story >>
I work in media and often get some pretty great perks in my job. I wanted to share one of them with you - probably one of the hardest acts of kindness I have done yet!!! But it was worth it!!! I was at work yesterday and was about to leave when my supervisor walked into my office and handed me an envelope. She had two tickets to the U2 concert that was playing that night in her hand and said they were mine if I wanted them. I LOVE U2, they are my favourite band, and I quickly said yes very excited about the night ahead of me! Then I wondered who to take with me. My boyfriend is a big fan and would have loved to go, but 2 of my sisters are massive fans and I know they had been trying to get tickets (with no luck). So... ... Read Full Story >>
I was waiting at the doctor’s office with my infant son. A little girl came up several times to talk to me. I looked down and saw that the girl had three bright and shiny bracelets on her. I said, ‘Oh, what lovely bracelets.’ The girl grinned from ear to ear and said they were a birthday present from her mother. She then took one of them off and handed it to me. At first I thought, “Oh, I can’t accept this from such a little girl.” But what would I be saying to the little girl if I refused her generosity? So I took the bracelet, thanking the little girl profusely. The child skipped off, obviously thrilled that her gift had been received with such pleasure. For weeks afterward, I always made sure I had the bracelet on as I left the house, to remind me of the little girl’s ... Read Full Story >>
In December, I went to the Cavalcade of Lights at Nathan Philips Square. As I was sitting at the side of the rink taking off my skates, a little boy about 6 or 7 walks up and asks "Are those your skates?"
I answered ‘Yes’ and wondered if he thought I had stolen his skates, since I wear boys hockey skates. He said: "Oh, I don't have skates." For some reason, I blurted, "Do you want mine?"
I told him to first ask his mom. He ran away excited and his mom asked if it was really okay [and I said yes.] He was jumping up and down in excitement. After he put on the skates, I watched him take off with a big smile.
Two weeks later I was in the recycling room in our condo. Residents leave items for others to salvage. I found two Bauer boxes with new skates, both in my size!
I gave one pair to a friend who was there the evening I gave the boy my used skates. She shook her head and said: “You give away one pair, and you get back two”!
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 >>
On April 28 2001, my youngest sister was killed in a random drive by shooting. Her 3 youngest sons went to live with my surviving sister but were never happy there; I wanted to gain the gaurdianship options from my sister but didn't want to risk fracturing our family even more. A couple of weekends ago, though, my sister called and said the boys (17 yrs & 15 yrs) could no longer live with her and that their only options was either foster care or living with me. There is no way I was going to miss this chance. Still, my nephews were accustomed to living in the big city and I live in a suburb, 45 minutes from the city and I knew that convincing them was going to take some negotiating. But I did it. Today, they have been with me going on two weeks and they are more relaxed. ... Read Full Story >>
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 >>
I was recently traveling with a friend when we decided to get something to eat. Being a huge Waffle House fan, we scouted out the area we were in, and found one. If you have never been in one, or have never heard of it, Waffle House is kinda like a chain of diners that serve the best waffles around! They won't be found at the top of any Zagat's list of Fine dining, but they are my favorite! Our waitress took a while to take our order, asking the same questions a few times. We made a few substitutions and "complicated" the order, but she wrote it all down. When the orders came, they were not right. When the bill came, it was not right either. The only thing that was right was the taste of the food and the smile of the waitress. She may not ... Read Full Story >>
I recently went to a restaurant to buy a pie for a party. As I walked up the steps and opened the door, I saw a hunched-over old man with a cane walking toward me carrying a handled bag full of things he had just purchased there. I stepped back and opened the door widely so that he could pass through easily. As he did so, he stopped and said to me, "Wait!" He set down the bag, reached into one of his pants pockets, and retrieved a tiny plastic keychain flashlight still in its original plastic wrapping. He handed it to me and said, "Take this. I like to give things to people who have done something for me." I thanked him and told him he was very welcome. I was almost speechless as I watched this old man walk off to his car. I added his token to ... Read Full Story >>
He almost didn't see the old lady, stranded on the side of the road, but even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her. Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn't look safe; he looked poor and hungry. He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was that chill which only fear can put in you. He said, "I'm here to help you, ma'am. Why don't you wait in the car where it's warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Anderson." Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old ... Read Full Story >>
I have a friend who I was put into contact with through my Narrative Therapist. She is also unwell and under going huge hardships. We live in different countries, and our situations are quite different from one another. But despite this, we find we can connect to each others hearts through a few compassionate words. Each day, we send each other something to 'lift' one another up. Whether it be the lyrics to an inspirational song, a capturing quote, or just some thoughtful, comforting words. The impact this has on me is incredible. And it works two ways- the fact that I've made her feel good, makes me feel good inside, and the fact that she's made me feel good, makes her feel good. I guess I'm trying to say- a compassionate heart is the most priceless thing in the world. And to be compassionate, you do not need to 'know', you need not understand, ... Read Full Story >>
Last week I went with my boyfriend to visit the first town that he lived in -- a very small town along the Oregon Coast, when he moved from Korea to United States as a child. We went to the skate park that he had helped the city build as a teenager. While we were there, there was a 10 years old boy who really took a liking to my boyfriend. For some reason, they just got along. Maybe because he was older and skating, it gave the kid someone to look up to. After they rolled around on the crappy cement for an hour or so, we were getting ready to leave. My boyfriend noticed that this boy's skateboard was in very bad shape. So as we said our goodbye he handed the kid his skateboard, which was pretty much brand new and expensive. With that childlike awe, the 10-year-old ... Read Full Story >>
This week I felt I wanted to treat myself to some ‘beautician treatment’. I am house bound, so knew that I’d have to pay for the beautician to travel to our place, but that was okay by me, after all this was a treat. That day I had an appointment made, and was expecting at least a 2 week wait, but to my surprise, was told she’d be here at 3:30 that same day. She came by, and spent an hour with me, when she was finished, I handed her $50; $30 for treatment, $20 for petrol and traveling time. She turned to me, and handed me back the $20 and said ‘don’t worry about the travel’. I am unable to talk, so was left to convey my gratefulness and appreciation with my eyes and a warm smile. She politely left, smiling, but I didn’t feel satisfied. Did she really know how grateful I was ... Read Full Story >>
I am a single mother of a darling 6 year old girl, Haley. With a six year old come a lot of questions! Who is that? What are they doing? Why? Where...and on and on. I love her questions! Sometimes I do not have an answer, sometimes we brainstorm the possibilities of what may be together. Children are very, very observant and have excellent memories! One example that comes to mind is right around Christmas last year. We were heading out to her Grandma's house -- an hour drive, so lots of time for chatting! We were waiting to get on the freeway when she noticed a homeless man, no sign in hand. "Mom, is that man homeless," she asked. I told her I believed he was. We got on the freeway and away we went. She was pretty quiet in the back on they way there. We spent a ... Read Full Story >>
Last week I decided I would choose one thing to be kind about and really focus on achieving that goal. That goal was to allow anyone who wished to, go ahead of me -- putting others' needs first before my own, no matter what. And let me tell you, this was not easy. Especially driving :) But true to my word I let others go before myself. Drivers who needed to merge were, with a smile and a wave, allowed in front of me (much to the distress of the people behind me -- so I guess I didn't really make their day). In the supermarket I smiled genuinely as I asked the women behind me if they would like to go ahead, getting looks that ranged from sheer astonishment to harried gratitude to those that made me feel they were thinking I was a few sandwiches short of a picnic! But ... Read Full Story >>
Last week, while visiting my Dad in Washington State with my daughter, we went to a local restaurant for a late dinner. When our host seated us, my dad asked him if there were any military having a meal in the establishment. The host said there was a soldier eating dinner with his friend. My dad told the host to tell the soldier and his friend that their dinner was paid for and that we should get dessert too! He also stated that he did not want to be identified as the benefactor. Our waitress, who witnessed this as well, commented on my dad's thoughtful "thank you" to this soldier, saying that she hadn't seen anything more profound. At a local college, she was an Opera Major and as her humble way to thank my Dad, she performed a small piece of "The Pearl Fisherman." Her voice brought me to tears ... Read Full Story >>
Last week, I was shopping for groceries at the local store. The specialty of the store is free stands where customers are given samples of new products.
Being an ice-cream lover, I gravitated towards the free ice-cream stand and the clerk in-charge gave me a big smile saying "You are lucky! This is really popular and this is the last cone I have to give away!"
I was happy too, until I turned around to see a toddler craning her neck up to see my cone with one hand pulling her Mom's dress. Disappointment was written all over her face. Apparently, Mom had just explained the idea called 'no more' to her.
I knelt down, extended the cone and asked if she'd like to have it. Four faces lit up all at-once! And that tasted better than ice-cream :)
[ One of my favorite stories from Paulo Coelho’s 'Like the Flowing River', in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro.]
My wife and I met her on the corner of Rua Constante Ramos in Copacbana. She was about sixty years old, sitting in a wheelchair, lost in the crowd. My wife offered to help her and the woman accepted the offer, asking us to take her to Rua Santa Clara.
There were a few plastic bags hanging from the back of the wheelchair. On the way, she told us that they contained all her belongings. She slept in shop doorways and lived off handouts.
We reached the place where she wanted to go. Other beggars were gathered there. The woman took out two packets of long-life milk from one of the plastic bags and gave it to the other members of the group.
“People are charitable to me, and so I must be charitable to others,” she said.