When I was about 6 years old I lived in Kenya. There was a lot of poverty and there were always street children on the roads asking for money. There was such a big divide between those children and me and I grew up very aware of being so fortunate. We had a wonderful and very kind driver, John, who had been working with my family for decades. He used to take us to and from school. One day we had to take a detour on the way to school and whilst we were stopped in traffic a young street child, probably no more than 10 years old, called out with a friendly greeting. “Jambo, John!” He approached the car and shook John’s hand. John then gave him a little bit of money and waved him off with a smile before we carried on our way to school. I had watched the whole ... Read Full Story >>
I was twenty-four years old and three months pregnant when my husband died. I was a widow and an expectant mother in the same day. We had bought a new home and I had filled our two bedroom apartment with nursery items in anticipation of moving in. Now the house would be taken away. I knew I would have to go back to my parents' home, at least until I delivered the baby. And the shock of my husband's sudden death had made losing the baby a very real possibility. I moved back into my old bedroom. My twin bed, a crib and a dresser was all that could fit in the 8 x 10 foot bedroom. The rest of our furniture had to go into storage. I was able to pay for three months worth of storage and then I would have to sell all the new furniture we had bought for ... Read Full Story >>
About two weeks ago I saw a very sad, blue eyed, homeless man sitting outside my local coffee house. I said, "Hi. How are you doing today?" He seemed shocked that I was talking to him. "Not very well," he replied. He proceeded to tell me how he had been hit by a car while riding his bike. He had been in the hospital for a month and a rest home for another month. During that time the person that paid for his SSI checks died of a heart attack and his wallet was stolen with all his IDs. He had several checks waiting for him but had no ID and therefore no access to his money. I decided that if this was all true I'd like to help him get a copy of his birth certificate and social security card. I asked him to meet me at the Department of Vital ... Read Full Story >>
My father and I started our morning by darting into the local grocery store. I waited on line at the Starbucks counter while he shopped around to pick up a few things. As I was standing there I became aware of an elderly woman, hair disheveled, wearing layers upon layers of old torn clothing, hunched behind me in line. She had a few toiletries and seemed to want the Starbucks cashier to ring up since that queue was shorter than the grocery store queues were. At some point I became aware of her edging closer behind me - closer than I was comfortable with! I instinctively placed a hand over my purse and drew it closer to me. My fear and imagination raced creating wild stories about this homeless woman who might try to steal from me. Then it was my turn to order. As the barista rang up my total I discovered I ... Read Full Story >>
For the last two and a half years I have been giving out Smile Cards whenever I find an opportunity. I am sad to admit that my family and I are homeless, we live in a trailer which we were so kindly given by a family member. During this period, I have given out over 200 Smile Cards. I have always tried to find something kind to do, even when my husband lost his job and we were fighting to get by. I have started giving out coupons for free food, plus money for people to get at least one meal, on me. I always put my coupon, gift and Smile Card in a envelope that says "For whoever finds this". Once I left an envelope on someone's work truck and got back into our trailer. I just happened to look out at the bus later and I saw the guy open my envelope and find the gift. He read the card and then he looked ... Read Full Story >>
So right now I'm in Argentina and I gave away a couple of Smile cards. Some people didn't know what 'smile' meant because they mostly speak Spanish here.
Ethan is six and three quarters and Emily just turned seven, and they are best friends. Their pre-school teacher, Kathleen Albert, has been teaching them about kindness. So, for their graduation project, Ethan and Emily decided to raise money to help feed hungry people by collecting cans. When they were done, they had raised 5,304 dollars for the San Francisco Food Bank - enough money for 15,912 meals!
This morning I went to drop of my large items to the recycling center. There was an Asian lady in the line who looked about 65-70 years old. She had 6 big black bags of recycling with her. I asked her if she wanted my items, because she was commingling and she could get money for it. She accepted them and thanked me with the most wonderful, loving hug I have ever had. After leaving the recycling center, I went to the market. I had just finished writing my book, and am hoping to get it published someday. I wanted to pick up some steaks to celebrate. It was kind of a special occasion for me, since I have been unemployed for four months and money is tight. At the market, I had the steaks in my hand, but then thought about the lady at the recycling center. I put them back ... Read Full Story >>
Top 10 Stories of 2012 Countdown - Story #9 - A Spontaneous Opportunity to Truly Teach My Children About Generosity
My kids and I were heading into the superstore over the weekend. On the way, we spotted a man wrapped in a blanket and holding a sign that said, "Lost my job. Family to Feed". At this store, a sight like this is not a normal occurrence. It was obvious the man was embarrassed, but desperate. My 10-year-old noticed him commented on how bad it must be to have to stand outside in the cold wind. While we were in the store, I asked each of the kids (I have seven :) to pick something they thought our 'friend' outside would appreciate. They picked a couple apples, a package of shrimp cocktail, a sandwich, some cheese and a bottle of juice. Then my 17-year-old asked, "Can we get him a gift card?" I thought about it. We were low on cash ourselves, but... well, sometimes giving from our 'need' instead of our 'abundance' is ... Read Full Story >>
Coming home after a work's evening out I lost my purse. I guessed it had fallen out my bag as I was being dropped off. While it was probably very close to my house I couldn't find it and had to cancel my debit cards, etc. I'd had the purse for ten years as it was a Christmas present. It was a bright, red leather, Cheeky Monkey purse, so probably not very grown up for a 36 year old but I was very upset to have lost him! Everyone I spoke to said I might get the purse back eventually but the money and vouchers in there would very likely disappear. I had therefore written off the contents of the purse and was even considering whether to move on and go "grown-up" when I was seeking a replacement. I came home late the next night and my monkey purse was on my mat! ... Read Full Story >>
So I haven't held a job since April of 2011 due to multiple health issues. I currently draw disability but am having trouble finding money at the end of the month so I decided I would look for a partime job. I have been applying, interviewing, etc since July with no prospects. I haVe been told mostly that I am overqualified, or they need fulltime etc. I had been getting pretty discouraged. I started my randomn act of kindness way back in February for me personally, not to get anything back but a good feeling. With no job prospects and with the winter coming meaning higher utility costs etc I had been feeling pretty down and gloomy. I was actually asking myself why cant someone be kind enough to take me on as an employee. This past Tuesday evening it was freezing cold outside and going on 9pm as I was waiting at a city ... Read Full Story >>
In late August, I saw a local news story about an elderly man, a Korean War veteran, whose former attorney had stolen most of his trust fund ($286,000) before he found out. She was subsequently disbarred and is currently serving jail time. I was so taken aback by the story - at the injustice to the victim and the horror that someone in my profession had done this. I set up a web page on a crowd funding site to raise money for him. At the same time, I contacted his current attorney to let her know, so there would be no appearance of impropriety on my part. People from all over the country donated and left him beautiful messages, including my dad, who is also a senior citizen. Today I finally closed down the account. I mailed a check and a letter to him along with the printed pages of the ... Read Full Story >>
While waiting at the airport for a shuttle to take me home, I overheard a phone conversation a young man was having with a friend. He sat next to me, his small daughter asleep in a stroller, telling his friend that he was on a borrowed cell phone because his wife's bag, with their money, wallets, everything, was stolen.
He had just learned that morning that his father had passed away, (his mother just a few months before) and they were on their way to join family members when they lost everything.
I had a little cash, and offered it to him so they could at least get a cab back home. We exchanged contact info, he expressed deep gratitude, and we hugged as my shuttle ride was called and he left to find his wife. I live on very little, but sharing that $50 felt really good to me.
I run a small thrift store to help support our small food bank. A mother stopped by with her ten year old son and asked if we could help her family out with a few groceries. I said yes and gathered up several bags of groceries for her.
When I returned to her vehicle where her son was, I asked if he could go into the food bank and select a few of his favorite foods. She said yes. He chose his favorite cereal and fruit roll ups.
I wanted to make his visit special and even though we had made only $32.00 in the thrift store that day I gave him $20.00 of it. I asked him to surprise his mother and buy her and his lunch on the way home. I wanted him to remember this day as more than a trip to the food bank. I wanted him to be blessed with the possibility of acting on this moment for the rest of his life.
Today I was in a generous mood. I handed over a good sum of money to the some people who are in great need. Its very difficult for me to part with cash. I experience a lot of fear and insecure feeling. I believe I do not have enough for myself. I reached deep within myself to give out the amount.
I could hear my heart beat and fear rising. But when I looked up to give and saw the joy on the peoples faces it wiped my insecure feeling. I FELT SO PROUD of myself. I patted myself on the back and called myself a brave girl.
I was gifted with a wonderful opportunity last night. One of the people in our Facebook neighborhood group posted some pillows for sale that I knew my youngest daughter would love, so I requested to buy them from her. She only wanted $4.00, which I thought was very reasonable for the 4 pillows. We set up the porch pickup for later in the evening. When I got there, I put a $20 in her mailbox and sent her a message that I didn't have change (true, though had I really wanted to I could have gotten it), so to treat herself and her daughter to a little something. Once she discovered what I did, she messaged me back, offering to put the change under her mat for me to pick up. I asked her to just pay the kindness forward sometime, and that would be the only 'change' I need. She promised ... Read Full Story >>
Thank you, KindSpring, for opening my eyes! Today I went to Berkeley, near our old neighborhood - I was a bit surprised by the increased number of homeless (alternatively housed) people walking around. I remember there are more in certain areas. So the first man who asked me for money got all my single bills. So when the second man asked me two minutes later, I said I was out because I gave all I had to the previous person I was headed to the grocery store for a coffee and after I walked into the store I walked out to find him as he had asked me for something because he was hungry and I had just walked into a grocery store. When I asked him what he wanted to eat, he just asked for some vegetables and rice. He talked about how much better the vegetables were as we waited for our number to be called. While ... Read Full Story >>