Being kind costs nothing.
Although we were raised to help those in need in any way possible, we were also admonished by my mother that “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.” Matthew 6:3.
I do as many random acts of kindness as I can, but have trained myself to forget them lest I be a braggart. However, some of them are routine and easily remembered.
A group of us belong to an informal online club. We visit virtual graves and leave flowers and messages of hope. Although this is our main objective, we have branched out into something I like even better: card showers. One “elderly” woman is confined to a nursing home. Developmentally disabled, she has never married, has no living relatives, and never had much of a life. Members of our group send nightgowns, bed jackets, stuffed animals for her birthday and Christmas along with inexpensive dollar store trinkets. My contribution consists of colorful, cheerful holiday cards @ 50 cents each designed for children, two a week when in season and signed by Shiloh, my furbaby and our numerous cats. During the drought between Easter and Halloween I send picture postcards.
Containing my mother’s legacy, I also search out card showers, sending greeting cards to anyone else I find out about. Last year, my grandsons and I made cards for a boy suffering from cancer. We also sent cards to two autistic young men.
Planting daffodil bulbs each fall and eagerly anticipating their spring arrival is one way to help me get through the increasingly long seeming winters. I buy bulbs on clearance and have been known to beg a few from friends and transplant them into my own yard. At last count there were over a thousand: trumpets, doubles, short cups, long cups, split coronas, in shades of yellow, pink, white, orange. I scour yard sales and thrift stores for vases so I don’t have to worry about them being returned. Family, friends and co-workers are sometimes showered with flowers and I love taking them to nursing homes. I often deliver several bundles when the flowers are in full bloom. “Are these for someone, or anyone?” I was asked the first time. Now I automatically suggest they be given to someone who doesn’t get many visitors.
One long, frightening night while waiting for my brother to be treated for an irregular heartbeat, I read every magazine the emergency room offered. The selection was not good, unless a person’s tastes run to out of date celebrity rags, parenting magazines or children’s periodicals. I subscribe to twelve magazines, all purchased with points, and after a quick glance through (making sure my hands are clean), I put them in the recycling bag to be delivered to guest services of the hospital for distribution to inpatients. I make frequent drop offs to insure that they are current. I like to imagine a bored, lonely or frightened patient learning some of Martha’s secrets of gracious living or reading about the latest hot rod.
Weather permitting, I perform a random of act kindness upon Mother Nature as I wander back roads in search of aluminum cans. The exercise does me good and the cans are given to an animal rescue organization who redeems them. This money goes into our spay-neuter kitty. Special thanks to a man who unwittingly regularly performs a random act of kindness as he tosses empty cans of Bud Ice into a plastic bag, ties it with rabbit ears and leaves it in a public trash can. I hope he likes cats, because he is responsible for several operations.
One of my favorite acts of kindness occurred last year. While attending a fall festival in what is considered a ghost town in a poorer county, I noticed a bookshelf with a sign stating, “Take a book, leave a book.” The village had recently lost funding for its public library. Even though I am far from wealthy, I took on the challenge of helping these residents have reading material. I rummaged through paperbacks purchased for a quarter each, hoarded for summer reading by a pool, and came up with several bags. On to the public library (our county, I pray, will always have one) where I bought a few hardbacks (three for $1.50) and explained my purchase. “Take a few, free.” Into my pile went two Patricia Cornwell, a Janet Evanovich, and several James Pattersons. A call to my daughter, who if it is possible loves books more than her mother, added to the stockpile.
I drove to the ghost town, an hour’s drive each way, one Sunday afternoon, but to my disappointment, the public building was closed as was the antique store and the historical society. The only place that was open was a biker bar. I don’t frequent bars, but bikers are generous souls, aren’t they?
Into the bar I went, explaining my plight to the bartender. When I assured him I would be buying something, he told me I could stack them in the corner “as long as the boss okays it.” Since he was married to the boss, everything worked out.
My daughter-in-law’s family took up a collection and I made another round of libraries, and two weeks later my eleven year old grandson and I made a second delivery, this time to the antique store. Big E emptied the car for us and we celebrated with cans of root beer.
When I told a group of fellow gardening volunteers about my little project, I was rewarded with so many books that on the designated day I had to drive immediately to the ghost town as my there was room only for me in my car. The front and back seats and trunk were neatly and tightly stacked with all kinds of books: coffee table picture books, popular novels, kids’ books. It was a few days before Christmas and the owner of the antique store and the director of the historical society were overwhelmed. At first I thought they were upset, but then realized they were stunned by the group’s generosity. I explained that a friend worked at a private library and was able to take as many discards as she wanted. Many of the books were new and all were in good to excellent shape but for one reason or another not needed.
An easy act of kindness is to stop an elderly woman who obviously made an effort to look her best. Compliment her. Make her smile. She might not have heard these words in a long, long time.
Recently a woman told me I had mud on the back of my pants, got a wet wipe, had me bend over, and scrubbed me clean. Normally I feel uncomfortable being on the receiving end, but I l appreciated this random act of kindness.
Easy Ways to Spread Kindness:
Be kind to the earth and future generations by recycling, reusing, and repurposing.
When shopping look for containers that can be recycled.
When decluttering, consider donating to local free stores instead of nationally known thrift stores. Check out CEO’s salaries of any organization before giving – unless you want to fund a millionaire’s lifestyle.
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