Ann Curry has spearheaded a movement to honor the 20 kids and six adults killed in last week’s horrific school shooting. She’s encouraging the nation — each of us — to commit to doing 26 acts of kindness in the coming days and weeks. I know many of us are feeling overwhelmed this holiday season, strapped for cash, and unable to get into the spirit. I’ve always felt that doing something good for someone else is one of the best ways to feel better and improve your own mood. To help inspire us to join Curry’s kindness movement, here are 26 different acts of kindness you might be able to commit (and only a handful involve spending money).
2. Send a card to a terminally ill child.
3. Send a snowflake to Sandy Hook Students.
4. Let the person behind you have the parking spot you’re both driving around looking for.
5. Bake some cookies and drop them off at places where people have to work on Christmas — hospitals, fire houses, police stations, subway stops, etc.
6. Know someone going out of town for a few days? Offer to water plants or feed the cats.
7. Offer to shovel snow for a neighbor.
8. Give a homeless person a gift certificate to a sandwich chain.
9. Help a neighbor carry groceries or packages to her door.
10. Leave some tissue in the stall that’s run out of toilet paper.
11. Donate something to a Sandy victim.
12. Send your favorite blogger or newspaper columnist or local radio DJ a fan letter.
13. If you see a single parent in the airport this holiday season juggling a million things plus a kid or two, ask if you can help with anything (thank you!).
14. Trade your aisle seat for a very tall person’s (or old person’s, and a person with a baby) middle seat.
15. Share your umbrella if it’s raining (back when Jackson was a newborn, we got caught in the rain without an umbrella one afternoon and a woman saw us from across the street, ran over and actually gave us her umbrella. It was so kind and really boosted my spirits!).
16. Tip a street musician, look him or her in the eye and say “thank you.”
17. Offer to take someone’s shopping cart back inside.
18. Tell your co-workers you appreciate them.
19. If you know someone with small kids, offer to babysit (for free) for an hour or two so she can do last minute Christmas shopping, or wrap gifts, or just take a nap (we have a friend who lives on our block who babysits Jackson once a month (while he’s sleeping), when her husband plays poker, so we can enjoy a dinner out. This is so kind and so appreciated!).
20. Offer to give someone a ride home from work/class/ a holiday party.
21. Give up your taxi to the person waiting behind you.
22. Give blood.
23. Pay for someone’s coffee.
24. Overtip the waitress.
25. Help a mother carry a stroller up a flight of subway stairs.
26. Compliment a stranger.
As I wrote this, I realized how often I’ve been the recipient of a random — or not so random — act of kindness and it made me feel so grateful. Also, I realize there are countless wonderful charities and organizations people can donate their money to, but I deliberately kept this list short on money-centered ideas because for people who are struggling financially right now, I think it’s helpful to be reminded of the many ways they, too, can make a difference in people’s lives without spending any money.
Any other ideas?