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Robyn Braley is committed to helping Rotarians grow their clubs to become better equipped to help people who need help. He has led two club teams that were awarded RI PR Awards and served as the District 5360 PR Chair. He has been a Rotarian since 1999.

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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

81 Amazing Acts of Kindness That Will Change Your Life and Someone Else's

Written by Robyn T. Braley

We shouldn’t need to be prompted to show kindness to those we meet every day. However, it is easy to become so absorbed into the fast pace of life that we don’t see the needs of others, even when they are an arm's length away.

As Rotarians, our motto is Service Above Self. We demonstrate organized acts of kindness through the humanitarian work we do in our communities and around the world.

However, I heard a story about a  senior executive of a service organization who would periodically dress like a homeless person. He would lie near the doorway of locations where meetings he was about to speak at were being held. It was revealing how many stepped over him before someone knelt to ask if he needed help. He made his point!  

Simple Message

The message of the Random Acts of Kindness Movement is simple. Develop the habit of doing planned or unplanned acts of kindness with no expectation of return. Some acts may be anonymous while others are public.

So, you ask, “Why am I writing a Random Acts of Kindness post for a blogsite about branding?” 

Your brand is what others think it is. 

If you or your club members are known as people who do good things for the community, fellow citizens will have good thoughts about Rotary.

But, there is more. Kindness inspires kindness. When the idea of being kind takes hold, a culture of kindness can develop. It only takes a few to model kindness and to start a movement. 

In my hometown of Didsbury, Alberta, Harold and Teddy were two adults with mental ages of about 7 and 3 respectively. Their caregiver built a wagon with a large box anchored onto two bicycle wheels that made it easy to pull winter or summer. 

The duo went from house to house collecting pop bottles. When their wagon was full, they took the bottles to the back of Campbell's Food Store to turn them in for cash. Each Sunday Harold and Teddy donated their weekly earnings to a third-world missions project sponsored by their church.  

At first, they were a curiosity, but before long, they developed regular routes. People saved bottles and looked forward to their weekly visits. 

Soon the entire population became their extended family. People looked out for them, encouraged them, and occasionally offered hot chocolate or a cold drink depending on the season.  A culture of kindness gave Harold and Teddy purpose and pride of accomplishment.

No one is Immune

Seemingly insignificant acts of kindness can make a world of difference in the life of someone who is feeling discouraged, hopeless or all alone. An unexpected smile or a nod can bring a new perspective and cause the recipient to think differently.

Acts of kindness can benefit anyone and everyone. As we know, the poorest of the poor are not the only ones who are poverty-stricken. There are those who are the richest of the rich that live in poverty of spirit and soul.

People of every station can feel lonely. Have you ever stood in a noisy business reception of 200 – 300 strangers and felt all alone?

I have. Then one of the strangers came, shook my hand, introduced him or herself and started a conversation. I soon forgot about my pity party.

Taking Action

Sometimes we fail to step forward even though the need for kind intervention is obvious. The following story may be an urban legend, but I choose to believe it is true.

A young couple was in a packed family restaurant with their special needs child. The boy was acting up and causing a noisy disturbance. He was out-of-control.

The frowns and scowls on the faces of other guests made their feelings of disapproval obvious. The child’s parents were rattled, embarrassed and didn’t seem to know what to do.

At a critical moment, a waitress brought over a note and gave it to them with an understanding smile. It read,

“God only gives special children to special people.”

The parents read the note and were visibly moved. They relaxed, ignored the insensitive diners and calmed their child. When they asked for their bill, the waitress revealed it had been paid in full by the guest who had sent the note. The person, she explained, wished to remain anonymous.

Wow! What an insightful gift. What a remarkable act of kindness.

A Friend in Need

An acquaintance of mine, known here as Bill, was forced into bankruptcy due to an economic downturn. It was a devastating, soul sucking, crushing experience.

The point of crisis came the day the receiver seized personal and company vehicles along with other assets. Strangers went through his company office taking everything of value. At the end of the day, the locks were changed on the doors and it was over.

A common friend, who we will call Larry, heard about what was happening and dropped by unannounced to take Bill for lunch.

As numb as he felt that day, Bill later credited Larry’s simple act of kindness was the moment his inner healing began. 

But, Larry didn’t stop there. The next day the newly bankrupt Bill looked out of his kitchen window and saw a strange car parked in the driveway. Closer examination revealed a note under the wiper blade.

The note explained that the keys were in the ignition. The instructions were simple. “Please use the car and bring it back when you no longer need it.” It was one of Larry’s company cars.

Inclusive and Accepting

As I write this, I am sitting in the food court of a busy shopping mall in Calgary, Alberta. Across from me are seated 3 couples who are obvious friends engaged in animated conversation.

One of the gentlemen is in a wheelchair. He cannot control his head movements and makes facial contortions. He shows other signs of his disability which might make some feel uncomfortable.

The gentleman appears to be totally detached and oblivious to the discussion. 

But I can tell by watching the body language of those in the group that they know he is listening intently and very much present. They include him in the conversation even though he can’t fully participate.

What a gift of a social experience, unconditional acceptance and inclusion. A gift of love.

Hold the Door Open

In 1968, I attended a music conference in Memphis, Tennessee, along with a group of friends from Alberta. One morning, I was about to enter a department store as 4 ladies were exiting.

I did what I was taught every Canadian gentleman should do. I held the door open for them and waited for them to pass through.

They stopped in their tracks nervously looking at me and then each other. I smiled, and finally, they walked through.

You see, the problem was that I was white and they were black. I didn’t realize what the social implications of my simple act of kindness were until many years later.

Do the Right Thing

Too often we fail to acknowledge the person in the wheelchair or the young adult with a mental or other disability. We pass by as if we don't see the homeless person.

I have produced videos, mediathons and generated media stories about client organizations that serve the homeless. I have learned through interviewing their clients that many were homeless because of addictions, illness of all kinds, abandonment or job loss. In other words, a homeless person could easily be you, or they could be me. 

Making eye contact, smiling and commenting about the weather can be an enriching life moment for both parties. You can make a world of difference by simply acknowledging their humanity.

81 Great Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness

Never do an act of kindness just because you feel you must. Wrong! Let your compassion and inner joy be your motivation. Show kindness because it is the right thing to do. Simply do the right thing and do it consistently.

So, relax! Take a breath. Prepare to be amazed by the great experience you are about to embrace. As you will discover, you receive just by giving. 

1.    Buy a family pack of movie tickets for a new release. Drop them in the mailbox of the family who needs them.   
2.    Offer to take disabled veterans or seniors to medical appointments or the grocery store.
3.    Visit a shut-in neighbour.
4.    Write positive messages on post-it note and place them where people you care about will see them.
5.    Register for organ transplants. Give the ultimate gift of life.
6.    Engage in a conversation with someone you might not otherwise speak to.
7.    Invite someone to dinner – especially during the holidays - when it is difficult for some people to be alone. 
8.    Use your social media channels to let the world know a community organization has done something remarkable.

Make a gift to a micro-credit agency. A little can do a lot!

9.    Take muffins and cut-up fruit or arrange for pizza delivery to your next volunteer committee meeting.
10. Compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is while the child is listening.
11. Cook a meal or do a load of laundry for a friend who just had a baby, an operation or is going through a difficult time.
12. Invite a new neighbour, employee or student to your house for a meal.
13. Don’t interrupt when someone else is speaking. Listen intentionally.
14. Send a written note of appreciation to a past teacher, coach or mentor who made a difference in your life.
15. Buy additional CD’s of a favourite artist and gives them away. The friend wins, the artist wins and you win.
16. Volunteer as a big brother, sister or student mentor.
17. Volunteer your talents as a writer, photographer, social media expert, electrician, carpenter, auto technician, designer, accountant or any other skill.
18. Help an immigrant learns your language. You will impact their life forever.
19. Volunteer to read to kids at your local school or community program.
20. Give away free stuff on bargain websites.
21. Find an old set of shelves and start a free community library. Take a book, leave a book.
22. Pick up litter and put it in the trash.
23. Write something nice on the Facebook updates of someone who constantly posts. They are probably lonely.

Donate toys to a domestic shelter. Victims often flee with few belongings.

24. Compliment your coworker, boss or teammate who may not receive many compliments. Be specific.
25. Make eye contact, smile and talk to a homeless person.
26. Deliver flowers to the receptionist at your place of business.
27. Buy coffee for 3-4 people in the line behind you.
28. Visit seniors at a nursing home. Ask who needs company. Many never have visitors. 
29. Find a pianist, practice 10 easy-to-sing old-time songs and organize a sing-along at a nursing home. You don’t need to be good. You just need to be there.
30. Find something nice to say about someone who may not be loveable.
31. Babysit for a single mom or an overwhelmed young couple for free.
32. Tell a friend to be ready and take them for a surprise lunch.
33. Learn the names of your caretakers, security guards and other service team members. Call them by name when you meet.

Set aside empty bottles for the next drive your community youth group does.

34. Bring a security guard a cup of coffee.
35. Frame a friend’s favourite lyric or quote and give it to them with a thoughtful note.
36. Pay for a dessert and send it to another table.
37. Help your elderly neighbour take out the trash or mow their lawn.
38. Wash a seniors’ or single mom’s car.
39. Pet sit a neighbour’s dog or cat for free.
40. Organize a day and a crew to do yardwork or bulk cooking for seniors who live in your neighbourhood.
41. Contact a children’s hospital and volunteer to send funny get well cards to kids who need them the most.
42. Record audio or video of friends saying positive, encouraging and funny things about a sick friend. Use free software to edit the comments together. Send an  MP3 file. They’ll listen to it over and over. 

Donate to a clean water agency. Save a life, save a village. 

43. During a hot summer day, give cold bottles of water or popsicles to your mail carrier, landscaper and garbage persons.
44. When it’s freezing, make it hot chocolate for crossing guards, police officers and others who must work outside.
45. Cook an extra portion of dinner (or dessert) and deliver it to someone who needs it.
46. Take flowers to the nursing station on the floor where a sick friend is hospitalized.
47. Drop by your local fire hall or police station with homemade cookies or a box of muffins and donuts. Include a simple note saying, “Thanks for all you do.”
48. Do the same thing for your community school – even if you don’t have kids who go there. Call to find out staff numbers.
49. Write a thank you note to someone who made a difference for you personally or in your community.
50. Send thanks to military members through military Facebook pages.
51. Take pictures of friends volunteering or doing acts of kindness. Frame them and give them a note of thanks.

Alert authorities about a child or pet locked in a parked car.

52. Organize friends to flash mob people in a park with pieces of cake or muffins. Detail a cleanup crew.
53. Organize 2-3 friends to write 40-50 “Thank you for being a good member of our community” notes. Stand at a busy intersection and hand them out.
54. Drop by an animal shelter and pay the adoption fees for several animals to be placed with families looking for a pet.
55. Buy cheap kids’ books or puzzles and give them to the children of neighbours, family or friends. (with parents’ permission)
56. Pay the parking fee for 2-3 people behind you.
57. Organize 4-5 people. Buy 50 – 75 brown lunch bags. Make simple sandwiches, add a piece of fruit, some candy and a juice box. Add a note saying “You are appreciated” and flash mob the homeless in your area.
58. Reach out to someone you haven’t connected with for a long time.
59. Volunteer at a local shelter, food bank or youth recreation program.
60. Buy flowers and go door to door in your office, apartment building or the local mall and give one to the first people you meet.
61. Pack grocery bags with unperishable food. Go to your local college or university and give the bags to students passing by. Include a motivational message.
62. Buy 10 prepaid phone cards and give to the homeless.
63. Give blood.
64. Say you are sorry to someone you need to say it to.
65. Show kindness to other drivers on the freeway. Really! You can do it.
66. Make eye contact and ask your restaurant server, grocery store cashier or parking attendant how their day is going.

In cold climates, organize a sock, hat and mitten drive for homeless shelters.

67. Make eye contact and say hello to caretakers in the mall. You will be remembered as no one else does it.
68. Leave a generous tip.
69. Adopt a nearby park and regularly police it for garbage. Inspect playground equipment.
70. Help new neighbours unpack, then assemble their beds. They will love you forever.
71. Tell a young salesperson when they do a good job even if you don’t buy their product. Be specific.
72. Buy juice, cookies, chocolate bars, raffle tickets, etc. when the neighbour kids are selling them.
73. Challenge your community to declare a Random Acts of Kindness Day.
74. Write a post about random acts of kindness. It will make your day!
75. Do something nice for yourself. You deserve it

What's Your Big RAK Idea?

We want to hear from you. What is your favourite Random Act of Kindness? What did someone do for you? Please tell us. 

Robyn Braley is a brand specialist, writer and keynote speaker. He is also a Rotarian who is passionate about Building the Rotary Brand. He has led two teams that received the Rotary International PR Award. He has also served as the PR Chair for District 5360. Robyn has placed hundreds of stories about Rotary with traditional and new media. 

Contact Robyn

Email: robyn@robyntbraley.com   Connect on LinkedIn Follow on Twitter: @RobynTBraley

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