"Today is my 29th Birthday!
I’m doing 29 nice things
For 29 random people…
YOU are one of them!
Please enjoy this tiny gift—no strings attached!
Thanks for helping me celebrate my birthday!"
The above, was the note I left as evidence of my acts of kindness throughout my birthday....I was recently inspired by an idea that I saw on a blog that I found through Pinterest...it was someone celebrating their birthday by doing random acts of kindness for others (one act of kindness for each year of life). I thought to myself that with my family living out of state now, and Jeff working late most nights, what better way to spend my birthday than by making others happy (thereby making me feel good!) instead of sitting home on a weeknight wallowing because I was lonely and missed my parents and sisters?!
And it was a really rewarding birthday! I spent a few days planning my schedule and purchasing little gifts and supplies, baking goodies, and make notes and cards, so that on my birthday I could just go down the list of stops and bring some surprises and smiles to my unsuspecting victims. The first of which, was my mailman. I left a handmade thank you card in my mailbox along with a goody bag that included a note pad, a set of pens, and a keychain flashlight.
Next I went to work (I'm a TA at a local school district) and brought the custodians a box of donuts. I had to find their office in the "dungeon" and they were surprised to see me down there, and even more surprised that I came bearing breakfast! I got an appreciative reaction and I'm happy I thought to acknowledge them.
Still at school, I brought in a bag full of post-it pads with little notes attached and gave them to the secretary to randomly put in staff members' mailboxes as little surprises (I think there was 23 notepads in all--kinda wish it had been 29!). Even though I didn't sign my name to the note, all day long co-workers sought me out to say Happy Birthday and thanks. Most people thought it was such a neat idea--others thought I was nuts to be giving THEM something on MY birthday. LOL.
Our school's media specialist and one of the reading teachers recently rolled out a new reading incentive program where students will earn "bucks" for logging the extracurricular reading that they do in order to "buy" prizes. I donated 2 handmade hair accessories and a pair of earrings for them to use as prizes. The media specialist was surprised and pleased because she has just asked me the previous week if she could buy some stuff from me for that purpose--which gave me the idea to donate a few things instead.
I made myself a strawberry birthday cake to share with the co-workers I eat lunch with every day, but it turned out that the reading teacher I've been working with made me cupcakes too! I spent my free period in the afternoon doing cake deliveries to classroom teachers and support staff throughout the building. Everyone loved it--in fact, one teacher was so inspired she even wrote a blurb to be read during afternoon announcements about how it reminded her to do nice things for others more often.
My friend Jamie wanted to do my afternoon kindness projects with me, but she had to work, so her 5th grade daughter Meaghan was her stand-in. I picked her up from school when I got out of work and she drove around from place to place on my list with me, excited by each stop. Our first destination was a local restaurant where her mom and dad eat lunch about once a week on their lunch break. I decided to buy the servers cute new pens and just walked in with Meaghan to present them to the hostess at the door. I explained I was doing a RAK project for my birthday and that I wanted to acknowledge the girls for the good service we always get when we go there. She smiled graciously and was delighted to take the Zebra print pens to share with her co-workers. Meaghan and I were giddy leaving the building and sighed a sigh of relief that girl didn't look at us with 3 heads.
Our next stop was the Dollar General. On the rainy afternoon we decided we'd help out the people that worked in the stores in the plaza by bringing a few Dollar General and Save-A-Lot carts to the corrals by their front entrances instead of leaving them where customers had left them in random parking spaces in the lot. Meaghan was an awesome helper!
Once inside the dollar store we searched for a few $1 toys to tape a note and a dollar bill to. I picked out this cute little doll and while we were searching out toys, we overheard two little boys in the next aisle over asking their mom if they could buy something. Instead of taping the dollars to more toys, we went around the aisle to offer the money to the kids. I wanted Meaghan to give it to them and then meet me at the front of the store, but she wouldn't let me chicken out--she said I had to give one boy a dollar and she would give the other boy a dollar. I agreed that was only fair, so we turned the corner and explained our project to the kids' mom. She was thankful even if the boys ran off to pick something out before saying thank you themselves! Meaghan teased me all the way out the door that I had tried to leave her alone to give them the money. Okay, okay, I deserved to be teased!
Meaghan was most looking forward to stopping at the pediatric ward of our local hospital to deliver the stuffed bears, coloring books, and crayons that I had bought at Walmart the previous day. Her grandfather had recently gone to the hospital with a heart attack and she explained to me how scared she had been waiting, and how nice it will be to help other kids in situations like hers with having something to do while their loved ones are being taken care of. We also hoped that sick kids stuck in the hospital would enjoy a little something to play with or comfort them when they didn't feel well. She touched my heart by being so excited with this stop and by making a connection to her own life with it. I was a proud to be in the presence of such a compassionate and sweet young woman! We asked the lady at the front desk who we should drop our donations off too, and she directed upstairs to pediatrics. We were excited in the elevator to see the nurses' faces when we got to their desk with our presents. Sure enough, the two young women we met thought it was a nice gesture and said they already had a child in mind who had been admitted who would like the toys. Yay! We left it to her to deliver them (because again I was a chicken and passed the buck a little). I think both Meaghan and I were good just knowing they had someone to give our surprises to.
We decided to stop at McDonald's next to get a few drinks and buy a heart for the Ronald McDonald House. I also put the change from our drink purchase in the Ronald McDonald House donation box under the drive-thru window. We found ourselves giggling again because when we drove up to the window for our drinks after paying and signing the heart, the girl at the window said we kept the marker cap--sure enough, I looked down and it was in my lap! Oops!
At Hannaford we taped quarters and notes to a whole row of vending machines to surprise little kids on their way in/out of the store. Of course I had to buy Meaghan and I a gumball too! Then we went shopping for a few things for dinner tomorrow night as a cover for my real purpose: to buy one of the checkout baggers, Barb, a bouquet of roses.
The flowers caused the biggest hiccup of the day. While Barb went to get a bag to put the flowers in, I quickly taped the note to them after I paid. When she got back with the flower bag I smiled and told her they actually were for her, to thank her for doing a nice job whenever I'm in the store, she looked so happy and pleased but then her face fell when she told me she wasn't allowed to accept them. I told her I'd speak to a manager and he confirmed what she said, that she wasn't allowed to accept them, and that I could write a comment card on her instead. He proceeded to tell me that he also wouldn't blame me if I wanted to return the flowers. I said, "No, I don't want to return them, I want to give them to her." He finally agreed that I could as long as I also filled out a comment card. Okay, then Hannaford! Sheesh. When I returned to give her the flowers she looked stunned, and said, "He really said I could keep them?" I said, "Yup! Have a great day Barb!" I winked at her, and then left with Meaghan and my small bag of groceries. It was a little bit more of a battle than I expected to do something nice for someone, but hopefully she was able to enjoy them without feeling guilty about it.
Next, we stopped back at my house to drop off the few groceries and ran next door to my neighbor to deliver a little package containing 3 packets of vegetable seeds for her garden this spring, and a little handmade card to say thanks for being a good neighbor. We chatted a minute and then Meaghan and I were on our way to our last stop: to visit her mom at work.
Our last stop of the project was the post office where Meaghan's mom works. We brought her and the postal workers a box of chocolate chip cookies, and I mailed 6 handwritten notes to various family members to brighten their day when they receive them!
After Jamie and her husband got out of work, Meaghan and I met them at the Chinese buffet for an impromptu birthday dinner. They had plans that fell through so I was able to spend my actual birthday with someone after all!
Best of all, even though he was exhausted from a long day at work, Jeff was able to join us to and hear the tale of my adventures with Meaghan! Happy birthday to me, and to everyone we touched with our acts of kindness.
P.S. The whole day (not including dinner) cost me about $65-70. Not bad at all considering I probably helped bring a smile to at least that many people's faces!
Remember that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted! Make someone's day today!