Maybe some of you heard about this already, but about a month ago Oprah had a show where she talked about random acts of kindness and at the end of the episode, she surprised her audience with debit cards with $1000 on them that they had to give away to a deserving stranger in the next week. They were also given a video camera to document the experience. (The Free Hugs Guy, whose YouTube video was posted here on Bust, was one of the guests)
I missed that episode, but a couple days ago, she did the follow-up and she had the audience back again to share their videos and talk about the experience. There were people who did straight-up donations to charities, such as Doctors Without Borders and HIV/AIDS charities in Africa. Other people got more creative, such as finding a family in their community who was in need of help, organizing food drives, handing out cash to strangers, such as in store parking lots. There was even one lady who videotaped herself and her kids ordering pizza and then giving the delivery guy a very generous tip ($200-$400), and their surprised, gracious reactions.
I felt all warm and fuzzy after watching the show (which doesn't usually happen after watching Oprah- sometimes she makes me want to hurl bricks at my TV) and I thought it would be nice to share some of our own stories of Random Acts of Kindness and maybe they would inspire ourselves and others to do more. No act is too big or too small, it doesn't have to involve donating money. When I brought up the idea of this thread in the Community Forum, someone said they felt good about freeing a bee trapped between two doors. So really, if it's a nice thing to do, that's all that matters.
I'll start off with my own- the company I used to work for would give out gift certificates from a local grocery store to all the employees just before Thanksgiving. I lived with my parents at the time, so I wasn't really in need of a grocery store gift certificate. For the first couple of years, I would send them to a friend who didn't have the best financial situation, but eventually we fell out of touch. When Thanksgiving came around again, I got another one and later that very day, I was driving home from work along a busy street. It was a dreary, cold November day and traffic was slowing down; it looked like there was a police car in the right lane about 1/4 mile ahead. I'm sitting there, annoyed in the left lane, slowly creeping closer to where the lane was blocked ahead. I see a young woman standing on the right side of the road with a baby carrier/car seat thing, looking panicked. I didn't think much of it, but I made eye contact with her for a second. Suddenly, she approached my car and I could see how freaked out she was. I rolled down the passenger side window and she said, "that's my husband up ahead, he was hit by a car, can you drive me up there?" Of course, I let her, with the baby, into the car, got back in the right lane and drove up behind the police car. She jumped out, leaving the kid there (she must have been panicked, and not thinking straight or I look *very* trustworthy) and ran up to he accident site.
Apparently, they lived in apartment up the street and her husband had just left on his bike to cash his check at the gas station on the corner. Someone hit him with their car and an ambulance was called. One of their neighbors saw it happened and ran back and got her. I think he was conscious and stable, but had some cuts, so they were loading him into an ambulance to take him to the hospital. She made sure he was okay and came back to the car. She said it sounded like he would be alright, but she needed to go to drop the baby off at her sister-in-law's house, who lived a couple of blocks away. I offered to drive her there, and on the way, she said that he had just lost his job and they didn't have insurance and didn't know how they'd pay for all of this, especially since it would now be longer before he could look for another job (I think it was determined to be an accident, and the driver's insurance would have covered it.) We got to her SIL's house and she thanked my profusely. I remembered that I had the gift certificate in my purse, so I made her take it, because obviously, she needed it more than I did!
P.S. There's now a Free Hugs Campaign website!