After two years of blogging, I am about to share with you the absolute best project I have ever done with my children. It is not a craft, or a recipe, but an initiative. Over the last year my kids and I have gone out into the world and done 30 random acts of kindness together. Our acts of kindness were based on what is important to our family, and the experience was, by far, one of the most life changing projects we ever done together. Not only was it about teaching my kids the importance of being kind to others, but I hope they walked away with a life lesson that they will never forget! I hope this inspires you to do something nice for someone else, and especially to get your kids involved!
Some days I feel like I have lost my faith in humanity completely. After watching the evening news and hearing all that is wrong with the world there is often not much to lift ones spirits. I figure, my job as a mother is to raise kids who care, who are gracious, and who think about the people around them with compassion and kindness despite the lack of good news. I do feel it is important to lead by example (which I hope that I always do), but I hoped this would empower my kids in a big way. A chance for them to make the world a better place one little act of kindness at a time. I am more excited to share this than anything I have ever written about!
Last year after reading about a woman who did one random act for kindness for each year of her life, I felt unbelievably inspired! I instantly began making a list of things that I wanted to go out into the world and do! Upon reviewing my initial list I felt a small disconnect. The list was pretty simple, you know, randomly leaving gas cards, or buying lunch for the person in line behind you. Which of course, are wonderful things to do, but I felt like these things needed to make a difference for someone else AND be things that my kids could get an experience from. I wanted each act of kindness to tie into our lives as a family in a special kind of way. I also knew that this was something that I really wanted my kids to be involved in 100%, and something that they would learn from. I started the list over and came up with things that the kids would understand and do with me. The whole process was a way for my kids to learn how good it feels to do something nice for others no matter how big or small it is.
I recommend if you are going to do something like this, that you think about what your kids and your families interests are. Each and every one of these acts of kindness allowed an amazing conversation with my kids (who were 3 and 5 during the process). We discussed what we were doing and why, we talked about our blessings in life, and how not everyone in the world is as fortunate, and we talked about how they felt after they did it.
Amazing – Is the only word I can use to describe hearing how they felt about the things they were doing and the smiles that we shared during this project! We did it over a years time, as to not break the bank or overwhelm the kids, which allowed us so many wonderful opportunities to do something kind for complete strangers in our community. Some of the acts of kindness were planned out, some were situational, and some were done on a total whim. However they came about, they were all worth it in the end.
Here are our 30 random acts of kindness and a little about why we chose to do them too! I hope you will steal a few of these ideas and do them with your kids. The reward is amazing for them and will be for you, as a parent too, I promise you!
I want to start with our absolute FAVORITE Random act of kindness.
1. The kids and I bought a new Candy Land game because it is our favorite thing to play together. We then took a trip to the park and left the game on the playground with a sign that said “Take me home and play me with someone you love!”
This was really fun because the park was empty as we were getting into the car to leave – then a family (which looked like 2 kids with their Grandparents) pulled up. They didn’t see us leave the game, and as we were pulling away the kids got to see the reaction that the kids had to finding the game! SO SO fun for them and the kids that got the game were jumping up and down and showing it to their Grandparents with a great big smile!
2. My brother makes these amazing balance beams and my daughter was lucky enough to get one from him – she loves hers so much. We decided to get an extra one and donate it to her school so all of the kids in her preschool class can enjoy one too.
3. My little girl patiently sat through many of my son’s t-ball games last year on some pretty hot summer days. One of those days in particular was almost unbearably hot, so we bought a whole mess of freeze pops and passed them out to all the other brothers and sisters that were watching games at the baseball diamonds. I was so happy to have my niece with us and get her in on the random acts of kindness too!
4. One day while at the grocery store an elderly man in line in front of us was checking out. After the cashier rang him up he said he had about $10 less than what the total was. He had her remove 3 packages of fresh produce from the pile because they were the most expensive items. When I heard him say he didn’t have more because he was hurt at work and waiting to get out of his wheelchair and back to work my heart sank. I discretely asked the cashier if she would scan his items on my receipt and then tuck them back in his bags. She did, without hesitation, and the man didn’t see – I hope he enjoyed his fresh produce when he got home. The kid’s and I had a great conversation on the ride home about being healthy enough to work, and buy food that is healthy for our bodies.
5. During the summer months the kids and I go to the library every week. We decided we should stash a crisp clean dollar bill in the kid’s favorite library books to surprise a kid who is reading it later! They loved this idea.
6. Our whole family stopped into a nursing home to deliver roses to brighten the day of a few of the residence. It was a nursing home that my own Grandpa stayed in for a while and it made my heart sing to see the faces of the residence who accepted the flowers from the kids! We even got to meet a woman turning 101 years old. I told my son that she must know everything there is to know after that many years and he replied, “I bet she doesn’t know how to fly with her arms!” Her response was so sweet, and she agreed that she didn’t know that – a very sweet moment and the smiles from a complete stranger were so heart warming.
7. Sometime during the winter my husband came home and was telling us about the school he had been working at that day. He said he saw a kid about our son’s age out at recces (on a cold snowy winter day) wearing just a t-shirt with his arms tucked in it. My son felt so sad that he suggested we get a coat for him. We went to the thrift store and got 2 coats, a hat and gloves and my husband took them to the school for the cold little guy.
8. We have a very soft spot in our hearts for hard working men. I grew up with a hard working construction worker of a Dad and the hubby and his Dad work in the contracting business too. We know they have many long physically exhausting days out in the elements, especially during the winter months here in Wisconsin. We found an unsuspecting hard working stranger on a cold day and brought him a hot cup of coffee and a package of cookies.
9. We gathered a bunch of our outgrown gently used baby clothes and lots of other gear (that I would normally have consigned or sold) and donated the items to a family with a brand new baby that really needed it.
10. The Ronald McDonald House is an amazing place that our family stayed while our son was very sick. I never leave a McDonald’s restaurant without dropping my change in their donation jar, but on this day the kids each got a happy meal and then we bought two more for the next two kids in the vehicle behind us. Plus some proceeds from each happy meal go to the Ronald McDonald house – bonus.
11. While going to a public pool to swim with my daughter one summer day we secretly paid for the dad and his little girl behind us to get in for the day.
12. When we found out one of the kids in my son’s class was having his tonsils removed we put together a care package and activity bag so he had a surprise and some quiet things to play with while he recovered at home and left it on his doorstep.
13. Horse have always been a big part of my life, and a very normal part of my kid’s lives as well. They are just another pet to them, but to some kids riding a horse is a dream come true. We talk often about how lucky they are to have the experience of riding a horse and how not all kids get to do so. We took the opportunity last summer to spend an afternoon giving that experience to a little girl who might never have had the chance be around a horse! Her ear to ear smiles were so priceless ! The idea is to use what you already have and share an experience with a child!
14. My son saved all of his pennies from his piggy bank and donated them to Heifer International through a program at school. Heifer international helps people in third world countries buy animals to help them survive and thrive.
15. On Veteran’s day we baked a fresh batch of cookies and left them in the truck of a special veteran as a thank you for his service.
16. We took a trip to the grocery store and I had each kid pick out two of their favorite snacks to donate to the local food pantry. This was the first time that the kids realized that their are people (including kids) in our community who don’t have enough to eat. They had a hard time understanding that some kids have probably never had a “treat” or “snack” like they eat on a regular basis. I was so proud of how excited they were to donate their favorite special treats to someone else!
17. Around Christmas time we rounded up a bunch of toys that the kids no longer played with and donated them to a local toy drive.
18. My kids love the quarter machines outside the grocery store, and they often take a quarter from their piggy bank to get something after a shopping trip. They each took a few quarters and we taped them to the machines outside the grocery-store for another little one to find!
19. My son’s doctor is a very special person to us. He is the cardiologist that helped us through a very difficult time in our lives. We wrote him a letter telling him how much we appreciate his hard work, thanked his family for sharing him, and included pictures of our ,now healthy, 6 year old. My son added a hand drawn picture and message and mailed it to his office. Write to someone who has made a difference in your life and make sure they know how much you appreciate them!
20. My son’s class collected books to send to another school who lost everything in a flood. Both kids each picked five books from their own personal library to donate to the cause.
21. Because the Ronald McDonald House is special to our family we donated a big box of stuffed animals for the kids and their families that are staying there.
22. We spend a lot of time in the garden during the summer months and when we grow more than we can eat the kids turn into “Veggie Bandits”. They secretly deliver packages of fresh produce to people who might enjoy them.
23. We also have a soft spot for nurses. The kid’s have one dedicated Grandma, and two lovely aunts who are hard working, loving, and devoted nurses. We got a great deal on flowers around sweetest day : a dozen roses for $8 so we grabbed some and stopped by a local clinic and asked if we could hand them out to the nurses there.
24. This may sound like a strange act to some, but we love animals. I grew up showing horse and spent 11 years in 4-H. I know how dedicated 4-H kids are, how hard they work and how much their horses mean to them. Plus I think that 4-H is such a great program for kids in general! They learn responsibility, sportsmanship, and work ethic through the amazing clubs. My mom, my niece, the kids and I got a bunch of bags of carrots and went to the local fair that I grew up showing at. The kids went up and down the horse barns on show day and put a carrot in front of each door for the hard working horses to enjoy after their big day. This was a really fun family experience!
***Please do not go to a fair and just start feeding animals without asking permission!! We did not give any carrots unless the owners were there and okay with it (most of the owners we knew personally)! You could get bit, or really upset an owner.
25. In November the kids and I went to the grocery store and got extra Thanksgiving dinner supplies to donate to another local food pantry for those less fortunate.
26. If you are a follower you know that our family dog has special needs. He has had both eyes removed due to glaucoma, and has been through many many vet and specialist visits. Our kids have been so good to him through the whole process and wanted to help another dog that doesn’t have owners who care for all of it’s needs like we did for our dog. We donated money to the local animal shelter to help a dog with special needs as well as some dog food too.
27. Around Christmas time the kids and I grabbed an angel from the tree at our local library. The angel had the age and wants of a little boy three years old that could use some help that Christmas. We went to the store together and they picked out new shoes, books, and a coat. They wrapped and put the gift back under the tree at the library.
28. After Halloween the kids got dressed in their costumes one last time and we delivered treats to our neighbors to make them smile, just for fun.
29. We made cards, pictures, and artwork to decorate a the rooms at a local nursing home in hopes of brightening the days of the residents. We also stopped and took treats and flowers to a very special woman with a heart of gold who was faced with terminal cancer. I was so proud of my kids who (instead of being scared and timid) greeted her with open arms, hugs and smiles. A beautiful way to spend an evening that I will never forget!
30. Number 30 is a surprise and I will fill you in on it very soon! We are planning something big that is so near and dear to our hearts and I cannot wait to share it with you after it is all said and done! It involves a campaign that we started to help kids who have been faced with heart related illnesses. More to com very soon!
#30 is now almost complete!! We organized a new campaign in our community called the Comfort For Kids Campaign! Our goal was to help comfort sick children who are confined to the hospital rooms by giving them a soft, colorful, warm, fleece tie blanket! I am happy to report that we have reached the 100 blanket mark, and we are still going strong! Read all about our campaign and visit our Facebook page for more updates! We will be delivering our blankets to the Children’s Hospital Of Wisconsin Milwaukee in June! Our hope is that the children, upon having an invasive surgery (like our son did), will be wrapped in one of our blankets to help comfort them through their hospital stay!
So there it is…. 1 year, 30 Random Acts Of Kindness and 3 very thankful hearts for the entire experience. I am thankful that I was inspired to do these random acts with my children and help them learn that: