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 >>
A young woman went to her mother and told her how hard her life was. She said she wanted to give up; she was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose. So, her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you ... 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 >>
I was at the corner grocery store buying some early potatoes. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of freshly picked green peas. I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller (the store owner) and the ragged boy next to me. "Hello Barry, how are you today?" "H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin' them peas. They sure look good." "They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?" "Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' ti me." "Good. Anything I can help you with?" "No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas." "Would you like to take some home?" asked Mr. Miller. "No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with." "Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?" "All I got's ... Read Full Story >>
Life has been stressful lately due to recent financial constraints among other things, so I decided to treat myself at Jamba Juice near Northgate on my lunch hour. Ahead of me was a 30-something, tall, good looking chap who, after putting in his order, turned to me and said to the cashier "and put this lady's order on my tab." Talk about knocking me over with a feather! I was speechless and open-mouthed for a moment but quickly revived, thanked him and put my order in. He said that he just felt it was the right thing to do and every once in a while you have do something nice for a stranger. No, he wasn't flirting or trying to pick me up. He was just a nice person who was feeling good and wanted to pass on his good energy ... Read Full Story >>
I was not employed at the time and I was getting help from the government by getting food stamps. One day, I was walking to the store when I noticed a little man sitting on a bench across from the store. I walked past him but could not stop thinking about him. I turned around and went up to him and asked him if he was ok. He said no. He said he hadn't eaten in 2 days. I told him, "Dont worry, I'll be right back." I turned back again and asked him what he would like. He said it didn't matter. I then asked him to tell me what he hadn't had in a long time. He said "a Pepsi". I went into the store and got him a loaf of bread, some lunch meat, chips, cookies -- enough food for a few days. The store I had gone ... 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 >>
This week-end my husband and I are leaving on vacation to North Carolina ... As you well know, planning is essential including cleaning out the refrigerator of food that will go bad.
Yesterday morning, my daughter calls to check -in and mentioned she was going to McDonald's to get a breakfast burrito. I told her I had the items to make that in my refrigerator and I could make it for her. She said her daughter (my grandaughter) wanted pancakes. I said I had that too!
I invited my other daughter and her 3 girls as we ''cleaned'' out the refrigerator and it didn't cost them anything, plus I have less work to do! It was fun and everybody got their bellies full of burritoes, pancakes, sausage and fruit!
Plus I made it with LOVE! You can't get THAT at McDonalds!
A few weeks ago I walked into a Zenex Garage to buy some milk. When I turned around after taking milk out the fridge I saw an elderly man standing behind me with a small packet of mielie pap, a small bottle of Savlon, a small bottle of milk and a half loaf of bread. He was trying to hold everything and at the same time was counting his coins in his very shaky, bruised, cut hands. I walked up to him and asked him how much he was short. Stunned, he could not even talk. Almost apologetically, he told me he had not recieved his pension money yet and needed a few small things for his family(himself, his wife and two kids) for a week while he waited for his pension to come in. He did not know which of the items were most important to take but he clearly could ... Read Full Story >>
Here in Canada, we have a chain of coffee places called Tim Hortons. It was the middle of winter, and as usual, the drive-thru wait for coffee at Hortons was around 5 minutes. Not forever, but long enough to create a slight inconvenience for me, who at the time was horribly late for work. Like I did everyday, I got to the order box and placed my order for a coffee and a muffin. So far, nothing about my routine was different. I proceeded to have my $2.65 ready, in exact change as I strive accomplish most mornings. As I approached the drive-thru window, I was handed my coffee. This was a little odd, but didn't register at first. Normally, they will not hand you your coffee and food until they have payment. The lady behind the window then says, "Sir, your order has been paid for by the person that was ... Read Full Story >>
So there we are sitting in our little booth, finishing up a, tasty meal. It dawns on us, it’s time. Who will it be? Who will it be? Hmmm…. them! Who? Them, the couple behind me over my left shoulder. All right, lets do it! Our waiter comes over and asks: Would you like to take the rest with you? Yes, we would. Could we have our check? Ahhh, we’d also like to pay for that table. Uhh…what table? Any table really, but we were thinking of that table…. Fingers point discreetly, and the target is understood. We slip him a SMILE card and ask that it be given to them in lue of the bill. He walks over to the register and exchanges a few words with his manager. The Manager looks up, glances over, and smiles. The waiter returns and asks: He wants to know if this table would ... Read Full Story >>
The other day, while waiting in a busy check-out line, after setting my items on the belt, I put the little bar after my items so the person behind me could set his items down.
When the clerk told me my total ,I realized I went over the $9.00 I had with me. I told the cashier that she would have to take the milk off of the bill, and I said I apologized for the inconvenience.
After she told me my new total, the guy behind me smilingly said, "Here I have the 70 cents you need." I said no, but he insisted. I added, "Oh, but she'll have to ring up the milk again since I've already paid for the other items." "Oh, we all have time. Go right ahead," he added while looking to the cashier as I accepted his generous offering.
As pedaled away from the store on my bicycle, I was smiling big. What joy, to have received kindness! I only wish it had been I that did the act of kindness.
Last week, I took my children to a restaurant. My six-year-old son asked if he could say grace. As we bowed our heads he said, "God is good, God is great. Thank you for the food, and I would even thank you more if Mom gets us ice cream for dessert. And Liberty and justice for all! Amen!" Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby, I heard a woman remark, "That's what's wrong with this country. Kids today don't even know how to pray. Asking God for ice cream! Why, I never!" Hearing this, my son burst into tears and asked me, "Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?" As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job, and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table. He winked at my son and said, "I happen to know that God thought that was a great ... Read Full Story >>
I recently received a $100 pay-it-forward award from Karma Kitchen, where I volunteer occasionally. It's a gift-economy restaurant where everyone pays what they want, for the person after them. On nights when more money is received, it is distributed as pay-it-forward awards from which we have to do something good in our community. So on Labor Day, I invited my two friends -- Hafeez and Mita -- to Berkeley to put $100 to good use. I placed the order at Southside Bongo Burger, but then restaurant owner called me back. "You want what? $100 worth of Burgers?" the owner queried me on the phone. I suppose he wanted to confirm it was a real order and not some sort of fraternity prank. :) "Yes, yes," I explained. "We recently received $100 gift to pay-it-forward. So three of us wanted to give a personalized, gourmet treat to our homeless brothers and sisters ... Read Full Story >>
Road crews are always out working, especially in the summer months. While most of us groan when seeing the signs that say, "Road Work Ahead" or "Be Prepared to Stop", I saw someone use the opportunity to initiate a random act of kindness.
The stretch of of road I was traveling was under construction all summer, and this driver seemed to fit the "daily commuter" profile. On this particular morning, as he slowly advanced from one flagger to the next, he stopped and handed them a white bakery box and a to-go style cup of what I guessed to be coffee or hot cocoa.
Being a few cards behind this driver, I got to see first hand the reaction of the road crew workers as they enjoyed the unexpected treat and kindness. What they usually get to see are the grumpy faces of drivers who didn't plan ahead and now find themselves possibly being late to wherever they're headed. But here they were, feeling like a million bucks.
And all it took was a little pre-planning and a few dollars!
I have always loved our local library and every couple weeks, I've started to stop by on my lunch break. As the weather has gotten colder I have noticed that the library is more crowded during the day and not smelling very pleasant. It seems that the library is a popular place for our local homeless to gather to get out of the bad weather. I am glad that there is a warm safe place for people to get out of the bad weather, but I also wonder what it is like for the librarians who work there every day. Recently, on the way back from a business meeting, I stopped at a bakery and picked up my favorite treat -- a Napoleon. I love the bakery's Napoleons and was looking forward to enjoying the treat when I got back to my office. That day, I also stopped by the library ... Read Full Story >>
Last week I was visiting my best friend in Cincinnati. One morning as we walked to breakfast, I spotted a piece of paper on the street and it turned out to be a $10 bill! I was determined to use it as a special treat and carried it around for two days as we brainstormed ways to spend it. Since we are both huge fans of Dairy Queen, we decided to head there after dinner on my last day in town. His blizzard and my sundae came to $5, so when the employee handed me $5 bill as change, I turned around to the lady (and her son) behind me and said, "Here, this is for you!" Seeing her startled reaction, I told her, "I found $10 the other day and since we've already received our treat, you guys should enjoy the rest!" She was very gracious and took the money and ... Read Full Story >>
It is so often true that "what goes around, comes around," and that life lessons often walk in through the most unexpected doors. One hot summer, several years ago, my son and I were taking a trip by train. But first we had to take a bus into the city to the station to catch the train. I was a single Mom and as usual, since times were hard and money was very tight, we simply could not afford any extras. So we packed a large lunch bag of snacks and sandwiches, and had a small cooler filled with sodas to get us through the trip. We were still many miles from the train station, out in the middle of nowhere, when the bus suddenly completely broke down. The poor driver was mortified, and after calling ahead to the station, assured us, apologizing over and over, that they were sending another bus to rescue us. We ... Read Full Story >>
A sweet and charming little old lady came up to me at the supermarket about 5 months ago. She had strict orders from her doctor to avoid artificial ingredients, but she couldn't read the ingredients on the cereal box and was asking me for some help. "No problem," I instantly said. I picked up the box and indeed, it's a shame that the print was so small that even I had to struggle to read it. It turned out that it did have artificial ingredients. With a slightly dejected face, she explained, "I'm struggling to have a decent breakfast in the mornings, because although I love porridge, I don't have enough energy to make it myself. So I need to find something instant that doesn't have artificial ingredients." Just then, I had an idea. "Well, I make my own muesli out of natural products and if you could give me you address, I ... Read Full Story >>
I just came in from the grocery store. I only needed one item but the woman in line before me had spent more than the money she had in her hand. As she checked out her 2-3 packed bags, she asked the cashier to put the jelly back so she would have enough money to cover the bill. As she paid, I looked at her and told her I was going to buy that jelly for her. She said, "Oh no, you don't have to. I just didn't grab enough money when I left my home." I looked at her and happily said, "That's okay. Perhaps you could return the favor to someone else." Caught up in the spirit of generosity, she tried to offer me something else until she landed upon an idea -- "Can I give you some of my "Turkey points?" At this store, they give you Turkey ... Read Full Story >>
Today has been a great kindness day for me. I brought an extra banana on my drive into the office and gave it to the homeless man at the corner. I bought coffee for the hurried woman in front of me, who smiled and had a little bit better day if only for a few moments. I sent 5 thank you notes to people who have done simple things for me in the past few days. And my daughter and I made smile rocks and sent them to a special friend in need.
How does this pertain to you? Because every single one of my acts today was because of something I read here! A special friend made a difference for me today when she sent me a great note and some karmabucks. A special thank you to her for making my day today!
Your comments, stories and kind acts make all the difference, even when you don't know it. Your words touch more hearts than you know and cause others to pass it on. Keep it up everyone! I am a better person having had my life touched by you all. I plan to continue following your lead and look forward every day the inspiration you provide to me! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!
The other day I was shopping with my four-year-old son, Jacob. We had been in the store quite a while, so his patience was already wearing thin when I mentioned that I had forgotten to get soup. As I turned the cart around and headed down the soup aisle we saw the biggest, baldest, most bewildered looking biker dude staring at the cans. I thought he might be threatening them to jump into his basket! Like most children his age, Jacob is still learning to not shout out his observations about people in public. As we approached the man, Jacob yelled, "He rides a motorcycle, I bet! Do you think he looks mean?" I was mortified, but the biker smiled and won Jacob over with a high five. The biker sheepishly asked if I could help him out. There was a single mom with small children who lived next door ... Read Full Story >>
I used to work at a warehouse that was down the street from a homeless shelter. It was right next door to a little gas station where they made breakfast sandwiches daily and I would walk over before my shift started and get a sandwich and a coke every morning. There was always someone or the other standing around outside asking for money to get something to eat. As a single mother I rarely had money to spare but sometimes I would give them my change until I noticed most of them would go inside and buy a beer with the money instead of food. I stopped giving out my change and just told them I didn't have any. One day as I was walking out of the store, I noticed an old black man who was obviously homeless. However, interestingly, he was always wearing a nice suit and tie ... Read Full Story >>
About a year ago, I was packing to move myself and my son in with my fiance and his daughter. My son was finally weaning off baby foods, so as I was packing up the kitchen things, I packed up his old baby food. My step-daughter came into the kitchen to see what I was doing. When she saw me packing up her little brother's food, she squealed! Why was I taking away all his food???!!! I laughed and told her that her little brother was big enough now to eat big people food, just like she does. I then told her that I was going to give all his jars of baby food to the shelter up the street. I explained that some people don't have jobs, clothes, food or houses and that she and her brother were very lucky that her Daddy and I make enough money to give them ... Read Full Story >>
This was a story I wanted to share with you, from a woman who helps the homeless. I am a mother of three and have recently completed my college degree. The last class I had to take was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely inspiring with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with. Her last project of the term was called, 'Smile.' The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions. I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say hello anyway. So, I thought this would be a piece of cake. Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonald's one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special playtime with our son. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of ... Read Full Story >>
One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However,he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it so slowly, and then asked, "How much do I owe you?" "You don't owe me anything," she replied. "Mother has taught us never to accept pay for kindness." He said, "Then I thank you from the bottom of my heart." As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in humanity grew stronger as well. He had been ready to give up ... Read Full Story >>
Just recently, there was a man standing near the islands in the gas station when I pulled in. I had recognized him from before, when I saw him trying to cross 4 lanes of traffic with crutches. He still had his crutches with him. When I got out of the car he politely asked me if he could pump my gas. I said, no thank you and continued on. I started to notice he asked other people the same question, and I realized he was doing it for money, but he wasn't getting any. As I looked at him, he seemed genuinely worn out and running low on energy. As I passed by him to go inside, he smiled and commented on how hot it was. I agreed, and asked him if he had walked here. He said yes, he is trying to get donations to be able to keep ... Read Full Story >>
I was visiting my sister a couple of weeks ago and it was snowing hard, in between bursts of icy raindrops. My husband and I dived into a coffee shop for a quick burst of heat. Sitting there watching the rain run down the window and people battle with their umbrellas all I could focus on was the one girl standing outside of the shopping centre selling a homeless magazine. Her approach wasn't pushy, just to ask if anyone wanted to buy it and then avert her gaze to the puddles on the ground. So many people walked past weighed down by bags of goodies from the sales that I began to feel quite sad. I sent my husband back to the counter to buy her what I had just enjoyed -- a big hot chocolate with cream. Her smile melted my heart when I handed it over to her. She was foreign so ... Read Full Story >>
August 1942. Piotrkow, Poland. The sky was gloomy that morning as we waited anxiously. All the men, women and children of Piotrkow's Jewish ghetto had been herded into a square. Word had gotten around that we were being moved. My father had only recently died from typhus, which had run rampant through the crowded ghetto. My greatest fear was that our family would be separated. 'Whatever you do,' Isidore, my eldest brother, whispered to me, 'don't tell them your age. Say you're sixteen.' I was tall for a boy of 11, so I could pull it off. That way I might be deemed valuable as a worker. An SS man approached me, boots clicking against the cobblestones. He looked me up and down, then asked my age. 'Sixteen,' I said. He directed me to the left, where my three brothers and other healthy young men already stood. My mother was motioned to ... Read Full Story >>
Here's a quick reminder to all of you when you get stuck in a moment --- that, somewhere out there, someone always comes along with a pocket full of hope. Today I spent all my coins and dollar bills on little deeds. I had skipped breakfast because the clock was ticking away too quickly. On top of the mad rush, I forgot my lunch. I was going to buy my lunch along the way, but a person in need asked me if I could spare them some cash, so I decided that moment, to put them first. So, then later, that evening, I was heading home anxiously awaiting dinner, when I got a call from my Mom saying that she was stuck working the late night shift and wouldn't be able to make it to the market to pick up groceries. Even though there was no food in the house, I took a step back for a second, and I told my Mom not to worry as I would surely find myself something on which to munch. :) While I was ... Read Full Story >>