Random Acts of Kindness…Easier Said Than Done…But So Rewarding!

giving back What an unexpected, crazy, amazing, and special Christmas Eve Day we had!

It started out UNEXPECTEDLY at 3 am with an emergency room visit. :-/  I was woken from sleep with the most incredible pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. Turns out I had a kidney stone…first one ever. THANKFULLY a Dilaudid push eased the pain and a bunch of IV fluids helped the stone pass. Astonishingly I left the ER about 3 hours later feeling absolutely 100% fine.

After a few more hours of sleep I was up and at ‘em! I was so thankful to be feeling good…because I had a big day planned. :-)

My nephew and business partner, Scott Warner, and I had decided our families would make Christmas Eve Day a day of Random Acts of Kindness. Thanks to all of you, we have had a very successful year and wanted to spend the day “giving back” and letting our families in on the fun!

Here is Scott’s “report” on the day with his young family:

What an amazing experience today was. The kids (as well as us adults) had an amazing time. Some people started sobbing. Here’s a few shots from the experience. They’re not great pictures but will do…

Here’s Chase giving an envelope with $100 in it to a new mother. She was shocked. Chase was so excited, he asked his Mom if he could please give another envelope to someone else.

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Me paying for a family’s groceries. They didn’t even know what to say. The lady started to cry. They asked me for hugs. The lady at the register said it was the nicest thing she has ever seen anyone do for someone else. :)

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Mickell and Tessa giving an envelope with money in it to a father and daughter. They were SO grateful.

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My sister-in-law Megan giving an envelope with money to a woman in line.

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So awesome! Hopefully you guys had a similar experience!

~SW

Well Scott, we DID have a similar experience, with a few variations. Since my kids are older I decided I wanted them all to choose how they were going to do their Random Act of Kindness on their own. No coaching from me involved (unless they needed it.)  I gave each person an envelope with cash and we all went our separate ways (since we all had different errands to do anyway.) While we don’t have any pictures…I will try and “paint” a picture for you with words.

Since No. 1 son Erik and his wife Kaitlyn were gone to California for Christmas…this was the Cast of Characters for the day:

  • Myself
  • The Hubster
  • My daughter Britta
  • Britta’s boyfriend Neil
  • No. 2 son Kell
  • No. 3 son Sten

starbucks

Britta and Neil started us off. They were off to do some Christmas shopping and while they were out and about…Britta decided to hit up the local Starbucks and give her envelope to the cashier. She asked the gentleman if she could purchase a gift card and if he in turn would use it to pay for the customers who came after her, until the money was spent. According to Britta the cashier was fairly dumbfounded by the request but once he got “into” it, seemed to have a really good time letting the people in his line know their food and drinks were already paid for. Britta stuck around and watched surreptitiously as customers would go to pay for their items and were informed they’d already been paid for. She said it was really fun to see their expressions and hear the comments of unexpected delight. :-)

 

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Neil decided to pay a visit to one of the local grocery stores and left his envelope with a cashier he knew who worked there. He asked her to use her discretion and make sure it went to someone who could really use it. He then left and came back a few hours to get a report. The cashier informed him that she had slipped the envelope into the grocery sack of a woman with small children who was a regular shopper there and who was on food stamps and watching every penny. Apparently the cashier was moved by the experience as much as we were, which was an unexpected benefit of the day! :-)

 

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As it turns out…mine was the next experience of the day. I had gone to the local Walmart to do some last minute gift and grocery shopping and fully expected to find someone there to give my envelope to. But as it turns out…for whatever reason…I just wasn’t “feeling it” while I was there.  So I decided to continue going about my day and look for inspiration elsewhere. As I was driving home I passed a laundromat on the main street of our town and immediately I knew I had to stop there. I may have even made a rather abrupt right turn into the parking lot that I’m pretty sure an officer of the law would have frowned upon had he/she seen it!  As I pulled into a parking space outside the humble little laundromat, I immediately began to doubt my decision. I didn’t want to walk into this laundromat with no laundry and appear to be looking for a “victim”. So I sat in my car praying for inspiration. Not less than a minute later, a woman walked out and I knew this was the opportunity I’d been waiting for. I got out of my car and approached her as she was loading laundry into the backseat of her car and asked her if it would be OK if I gave her a Christmas present. Her friendly smile immediately turned to tears as I handed her the envelope I had in my hand. She hadn’t even opened it and was thanking me through her tears. I gave her a big hug and told her not to cry (as I was crying myself!), that I had been very blessed this past year and just wanted to share some of that good fortune. I don’t remember her exact words, but they were something to the effect that this experience had renewed her faith in a world that hadn’t seemed very fair lately. I hugged her again and this time she didn’t let go for a very long time. Then I wished her a Merry Christmas and got back in my car and drove away with tears in my eyes and a heart full of the joy of giving.

 

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When I got home No. 2 son Kell asked to borrow the car so he could go and do his Random Act of Kindness. He’s very independent and didn’t want any help and didn’t share any details about what he had in mind. About a half hour later my practical son informed us that he had given his envelope to a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army outside another local grocery store. On the surface that might seem like a rather ordinary Random Act of Kindness, but it absolutely fit his sensible soul to a tee, plus I got such a kick out of him describing how he quizzed the Salvation Army representative about where the money would be going before he decided to donate. When the gentleman informed him that 90% of the donations would be staying in the community it was a done deal. :-)

 

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When Kell returned I told No. 3 son Sten that I would take him to wherever he wanted to go to complete his RAOK. While he wanted to take part in the experience…he was NOT liking the idea of having to approach a stranger to do so! Not in his comfort zone. :-)  I told him it was totally up to him and let’s just see where circumstances led us. Well, circumstances definitely had a destination in mind because as we were driving around town on some last minute Christmas errands we happened to pass a father and his young daughter selling homemade tamales out of the trunk of their car. The little girl was holding up a handmade poster while the Dad handled the transactions. I knew in my heart of hearts that this was the opportunity we were looking for…but I wanted it to be Sten’s idea. I asked him what he thought and he still seemed undecided until I pointed out that he could purchase some of the tamales and hand the seller the entire sum of money in the envelope and tell him to “keep the change.” This seemed to pique his interest and he said he wanted to do it. So we pulled over to the side of the road and the transaction went down. I would love to have had a picture of the gentleman’s face as Sten told him to keep the change. It was a mixture of utter disbelief and hopeful enthusiasm. I believe his words were, “Are you kidding me?!”  ;-)  He even looked at me as if wanting reassurance that this really was OK…and I gave him a nod that seemed to put his mind at ease. Then he informed us that he was trying to earn money for some Christmas presents and Sten and I knew we’d found the opportunity we’d been looking for. As a Mom it was so gratifying to see my kids take part in this experience and get so much enjoyment out of it in the process.

 

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That leaves The Hubster…and in true “hubster” fashion, he decided to keep his “secret mission” a “secret”. So I have no tales to tell from his experience but I have no doubt it was inspired and appreciated…whatever it was.

 

I hope you have enjoyed a little peek into what we now plan to make a regular holiday tradition in our family….Random Acts of Kindness Christmas Eve!  It really was like giving a present to ourselves as we made an effort to give to others.

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CONTEST IS CLOSED!

The winner of the Random Acts of Kindness Giveaway and a $250.00 Walmart Gift Card is……….Tamera! CONGRATULATIONS!

ROAK winner

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And Scott and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Christmas Day on this blog than to keep the giving going! So we want to give away a $250 Gift Card to Walmart to a One Good Thing By Jillee reader!

To enter to win, simply tell us a Random Act of Kindness that you have done or have been the recipient of. Or, if you haven’t tried a RAOK yet…tell us what you would LIKE to do or PLAN on doing.

Hopefully this will generate lots of ideas for more people to get involved.

Trust me on this….you won’t be sorry you did!!

 

merry christmas

 


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Comments

  1. Julie B says

    Well, we have done some in the past but we received one tonight. We have been struggling in this economy the past 4 years. This year has been tighter than usual. My husband is a ham radio operator and he mentioned on the radio that we wouldn’t be opening any gifts but we’d still have a good Christmas. Someone brought 6 or 7 gift bags with some scented candles, hat’s, gloves, socks, candy, card games etc and left it on our porch. It blessed us tremendously that they would have gone to the trouble to come out late (must have been after midnight) to do that for us.

  2. Kimberley Winarske says

    The divorce I never dreamt would be a chapter in my life was finalized this past week. Besides coming to the realization that the man I had built my future and family around had become a stranger to me, leaving me broken in heart and spirit; i am standing at the top of financial ruin. With 3 beautiful children by my side, I must return to the workforce after being “just a mom” for 11 years. Many nights I have ruminated about what kind of future I can give my children and how on earth can I pay the debt that I got from the divorce, let alone provide presents and treats for Christmas. I asked for a blessing not knowing where else to turn; even if it was just one of comfort.
    My blessings have come through random acts of kindness that may seem small to the gifter but are miracles to my family. We were offered the loan of a Christmas tree from a friend who didn’t know we had a need. This tree is the most gorgeous tree I have ever had in my home. It has brought such a sense of joy to us. A knock at the door two nights ago brought a huge ham, a pie, a large bag of potatoes, and dinner rolls! We had so much food for our meal this Christmas eve that we were able to invite an older couple who have no children to share our Christmas dinner. Not only were we blessed with such a grand feast but we were blessed with wonderful company of our neighbors.
    This year has been a dark one for me and my three but we have also known such great kindness and love through such a selfless gift of another. There is joy in this world. I have found peace through goodwill towards my fellow man. Merry Christmas!

    • Cate says

      I want to wish you much happiness and peace in 2013, I just wanted to say how lovely it was that you were able to “pay it forward” by inviting your neighbours over, that is so sweet of you. Many blessings to you.x

  3. susan says

    What a heart-warming post! Enjoyed reading it!
    I was headed into McD’s drive thru one morning a couple months ago, it was morning rush hour but I didn’t have anywhere to be and a lady pulled up and I motioned for her to go ahead of me in line ( I figured she was on her way to work). When I got up to the pay window, the guy said the lady in front of me already paid for me! I was so pleasantly shocked, It made my day! I smiled thru my day for her RAOK. Since then, I have done the same a couple of times (yes, McD’s drive thru line each time) because it meant so much to me that she thought to do such a kind gesture.
    Merry Christmas!

  4. Tami Dymock says

    This year money has been extremely tight. Yet, I won a Gas gift card and yes it would have been so easy to just take that card and use it. But the day before I went to pick up the gas card, I drove past a family’s home who I knew had just received bad news about the grandfather’s health and as I drove by I knew that I should make sure that the family was given that gas card because they had to make several trips to the doctor. I know it wasn’t much but it was a great lesson for my children to see a random act of kindness for someone else. When money is abundant we will always try to serve others.

  5. Sheri A says

    Jillee…reading your post about the RAOk inspired me soo much!!!I keep a Christmas notebook where I put in my favorite recipes and journal about each Christmas. Over the years I have enjoyed reading what we did and what were our favorite recipes for the holidays. I am definately going to journal about RAOK and how I will do this next Christmas Eve!!! I just love the idea of looking for people who could really use the money. As for my RAOK I frequently go to Chick fil A restaurant. One time I went through the drive through and someone had paid for my meal. I was indisbelief! Ever since then when I go through the drive through I look at the person in the car behind me. I usually pick an elderly person or a mom with a car full of young children and I will pay for their meals. I notice my daughter always gets a kick out of watching their reaction as we drive away. There is soo much pleasure in giving! After reading your post Jillee I am going to increase my RAOK to more than just the drive through. Thank you for inspiring me to be a more giving person in the upcoming year. Merry Christmas!!!

  6. Linda Roth says

    I am a letter carrier and since we don’t have an office bathroom available we are always on the lookout for clean public restrooms near our routes. There is a library near my route where several of us visit daily. We have noticed that there is a relatively young homeless man who has been hanging out there almost daily for the past 4 or 5 years. He doesn’t panhandle or anything, just sits in the magazine section in the winter or out under the trees in the summer. This year our office didn’t find a family to help out so I got the idea to give Christmas to this man. I got a backpack and brought it in and we filled it with socks and gloves and any other useful small items we could think of. Then I collected money and bought giftcards for all the local fastfood restaurants as well as Kohls and Speedway. I was afraid that I wouldn’t see him yesterday because the library was closed but he must not have known and I caught him walking up the road towards it. He was shocked to say the least and I found out his name is Dave. Sometimes we forget that there are also adults out there who have no one to give them Christmas.

  7. Abby says

    A while back a friend of mine at work was telling me about another girl who worked there who had the misfortune of her car catching on fire. In true mother fashion her only thought was to get her children out of the car and to safety. Luckily they all made it out okay, but unfortunatly her purse was not as fortunate. And as an additional stroke of bad luck she had just cashed her check and the entire thing went up in flames. A group of us decided to all give her an anonymous donation. The expression on her face when she opened the envelope full of cash was priceless.

  8. jenny says

    Many years ago when our son was very small and we were very broke, a coworker slipped $100 into my husband’s bag which allowed us to have Christmas gifts for our son. Now, we pay it forward each year with our own RAOK. We are blessed and remember well what it was like to struggle. :-)

  9. Shannon says

    I was in drive-thru at ChickFilA, and after I ordered breakfast, I went up to the window to pay for my breakfast, only to be informed that my breakfast had been paid for. I was shocked and thrilled, and proceeded to pay it forward by paying for the customer at the counter’s breakfast. It made my day, and my husbands. Even though we are struggling, I hope to be able to continue doing stuff like this throughout the year.

  10. Shirley Clark says

    I was working as an RN. I had a nurse friend who was going through a tough financial time. I heard her telling someone what her kids wanted for Christmas. I went down and bought the items, then asked Walmart to call her and tell her that she had won a store drawing. She did ask a few times if it was me, but I never told her the truth . . .

    The experience warmed my heart!

  11. Milly says

    Yesterday (Christmas Eve), I took a dozen bottles of lotion (which I’d been buying for several months whenever they went on sale) and a small afghan that I had crocheted to one of our local nursing homes — I had put a bow on each gift along with a tag saying that it was from Santa. The director of the nursing home just happened to be there when I went, so she accepted the gifts. She was happy with all the lotions, and when I opened the gift box to show her the afghan, she was THRILLED! She said she knew exactly who to give it to, a lady who had received no other gifts at all. I smiled the rest of the day…. While I may not have very much, there are those who have even less, and there are many who are simply forgotten.

  12. Kim Shumake says

    It has been years ago, with 4 children one in a carseat a friend with 2 children of her own and I were headed home from the coast. We were still about 2 hours from home when some small but important brake part on my vehicle broke. We called my husband to come get us and our vehicle. My oldest (about 12 and I were going to wait and Lisa and the other 5 were headed home. There was a gentleman and his wife who had diagnosed the problem and told hubby what to get left and about 30 minutes returned with the part and fixed our vehicle. He refused any money for the part or the repair. We were so blessed by his random act. The kids nevsr forgot it. You see we were not in a really safe area and it was going to be dark by the time my husband got to us. I am still thankful for that couple! Merry Christmas !

  13. BA Peterson says

    Earlier this week, my guy and I were grocery shopping late trying to quick pick up a few things since we didn’t have time for our entire list before the store closed but we did want to grab a couple meat items that were only on special for that particular day, plus some potatoes. In our haste, I forgot that for one of the meat items (a ham portion), the sale price was only good if you purchased $25 of other stuff before including the ham. Our total was more like $20 or so. But the bagger, who we assumed must have been a manager, told the cashier to just run our ham through on the sale price anyway. It was a seemingly small act, and if we hadn’t been able to get the sale price then, we would have done without the ham and put it back.

  14. debb says

    What a beautiful post – thank you for sharing. I have done small RAOKs at the grocery store by handing out coupons when I see someone buying items that I can help with, especially diapers and baby formula, but I have never handed someone money or paid their bill. You have inspired me to do this! Thank you!

  15. Brenda says

    A few years ago while working as a hairstylist, an elderly couple cam into my salon, they looked tired…the little lady sweetly asked me how much it would cost to just get her hair washed, she said, there bathroom was not in working order and she had no way to wash her hair…she only had one eye…so I told her, it just happened that my next customer had not shown up so I would wash her hair for free….I washed her hair and asked if I could also trim it for her, she hugged me afterwards and said, “God will Bless You!” I said, “He already has, he sent you here to me”… I told her to come back anytime for a free hair wash….she did make it back a few times before I learned she passed away…I really felt I got a true blessing from that.
    I was very touched by your post and had tears reading it….

  16. PA says

    Made me cry!
    For those of us who don’t have much money, you can also help in other ways. Shoveling someone else’s driveway, for instance, or taking some time to clean up spilled shelves in the supermarket, there are always ways to be kind just for kindess’ sake without spending money.

  17. Sandy T. says

    I have started doing small RAOK when I can throughout the year – I go to the mall and put quarters in all of the gumball/candy machines for kids to find. I put change in a bag and tape it places where I know people mght need it – laundromat, carwash, etc. Sometimes I just leave little notes of encouragement on windshields of cars at the grocery store. It makes me feel good to be able to do even these small things. I love that your whole family spent their Christmas Eve doing RAOK, that is so awesome! Definitely going to be doing that next year. Peace and Blessings to you and your family.

  18. Laurat99 says

    It was small, but my son and I were at our local grocery store and the elderly lady in front of us was having trouble lifting her grocery bags to her cart. We helped her in the store and then loaded them in her trunk. Not a huge thing for us, but it was a help to her.

    • Kathy says

      Your RACK WAS Huge! Too often it seems that gifts of money are involved with RAOK…seems to me that acts of kindness should not be about money but about the act. Your son saw and helped someone who had a need. Now, that is KINDNESS…he (and you) gave of yourselves. Really HUGE. Thanks for sharing.

    • MPMom says

      When I was pregnant with my 2nd, I was at the grocery store trying to unload my cart at the checkout. My belly was making it difficult to reach inside the basket. There was a little elderly lady in line behind me who insisted on unloading it for me. I thought that was the nicest thing in the world. The checker or bagger hadn’t offered, but this sweet woman did.

  19. Tawanna says

    My husband and I purchased a Wal-Mart gift card for an older couple in our church who are raising their deceased son’s small children. We had overheard there was a need for clothing and gave the gift card to the pastor to pass along.

  20. Megan D says

    When my husband and I were newlyweds we went to a football game. After the game it was late and we decided to stop at IHOP for a late dinner. There was an older couple there obviously coming from the same game. As we went to pay our bill after dinner, our waitress informed us that the older couple had taken care of it already. They had left before we had a chance to thank them but we will never forget their kindness and are constantly looking for a moment where we can pay it forward.

  21. Jill says

    A grandmother called my church in desperation asking for help as she had recently got custody of her three young grandchildren from their drug addicted mother. She is unemployed, with very little money. While the church helped her with food and utilities, I was able to help fund my friends RAOK as they took the kids for new shoes and even a new bed so the youngest didn’t have to sleep on the floor. As my friend was leaving, the youngest slipped a little wooden frog into his pocket. Sharing our blessings is the best way to celebrate this season.

  22. Sharon D says

    What an Awesome post Jillie, these comments have so touched me. My RAOK was when my mother & I had traveled to Oklahome to visit realtives for a day, we saw an older man with his backpack sitting on the side of the road, yes he looked homeless maybe a bum, didnt think much about it. After spending the day visiting on our way home we saw him again about 3 miles from the first place. After I returned home about 90 miles away, heading into work one morning I saw him again. Then each day he would be a little bit further down the road. He tugged on my heart because I had been seeing him now for about 4 days, I stopped at the store bought him a hot meal, some small food products that he could carry in his backpack, some drinks & added the New Testament that I carry in my car. Again there he was just a little bit further down the road. As I passed him I stopped before I got to him & put the package out. I drove down to him & told him about it. After that day I never saw him again. The smile on his face was all I needed & the comfort in my heart was unbelievable.

  23. Kristi Myers says

    Hi Jillee & Merry Christmas! I hesitate to tell this story, I’ve tried to keep it a secret – tucked away in my heart, but I think it’s okay to share it with you today in this setting. When my sons were little and playing baseball, there was a young boy maybe 7 o 8 years old on one of their teams. The family didn’t seem to have any money to spare because the child had to wear what appeared to be hand-me-down baseball pants that were way to big for his small frame. His dad would duck tape the pants around his waist to keep them up. When my husband & I realized what the child had to go thru each game, to have his pants taped on, we knew what we had to do. Oh what a joy and privaledge it was to buy that young child a brand new pair of baseball pants! Last year on New Year’s Eve we spotted an elderly man eating alone – we secretly paid for his meal. That was exciting!! On this Christmas morning you have given me the “gift” of new ideas, thanks! I love your post today – wait a minute – I love it EVERY day!! Hugs to You!! God bless you & keep you! (glad you’re okay)

  24. danielle says

    This year has been tough for me, though not as tough as it has been for others. This was my first year living in a new state, 10 hours away from my family and friends. It was hard to leave everyone, but I’ve got a job I love. One hard part is being away from my support. After my purse was stolen on my only visit home this year I started having money problems. I had been living paycheck to paycheck, like many of us, and having all my saved cash taken put me under. I got my purse back, but hadbecause my cash was gone had to use my credit card for things like food and gas. I feel lucky my debit card wasn’t used and my bill money stayed put. Since then I’ve been robbing Peter to pay Paul and picking which bills to pay late. I don’t qualify for any help at all from the state since I make $50 a month too much, and when all I asked for was cat food for my babies this was hard to hear. The extra hardship meant that I was the girl paying for groceries with a bag of coins since I first paid bills, then fed my cats. I got lots of dirty and pitying looks at the grocery store this year. Because I know how hard it is, especially this time of year, I’ve been trying more to give back. I donated what I could to the United Way, I collected names for our Toys for Children program and spent hours wrapping them, I took in a homeless elderly cat, I did whatever I could really.
    One thing that has touched me is my neighbors. I live in a mobile home park with elderly neighbors and they watch out for me. If my routine differs they get worried and text me. They checked up on me when we had the hurricane and I check up on them (and I will shovel for them when it snows). Having neighbors who care helps a lot. It isn’t exactly a RAK, but I believe it is often the little things that matter and caring for each other counts.
    That being said, I DID receive a RAK this year. The other morning the UPS man knocked on my door and delivered a package from Amazon to me. I hadn’t ordered anything, but yep, it was addressed to me. I opened the box and inside was a blue wrapped present that said “You’ve been random act of kindnessed! Merry Christmas!” I have no idea what it is, but it made me remember that there still is good in people, despite all the horror. I’ve been saving the box until today, since it is from a ‘Santa’ and will feel blessed that someone out there thought of me.
    Sorry this turned out so long, Merry Christmas everyone.

    • Penny says

      Danielle – what an amazing thing to have happen. Holidays, especially as we get older, seem to be more and more difficult for us. Family isn’t always there so you sit around and do nothing or you chose to make your own Christmas special. I think we might go to a movie later today for a little husband & wife date. It should be fun!!! God is watching down and he knows that you are alone and what a tough time you have been going through. May God Bless you and keep you safe. Have a beautiful day and Merry Christmas!!!

  25. Penny says

    Jillee – you and your family are an inspiration to all of us. If we all would “pay it forward” what a wonderful world this would be. My husband and I visited the National Cemetary in Bushnell, FL yesterday. We, along with alot of others, had purchased wreaths to be placed on the sites earlier this month. What a beautiful and amazing thing to see. However, they were thousands of graves without. Next year it would be nice to see alot more wreaths on the graves of those that have served our country. Thank you for always portraying a positive image. Merry Christmas!!!

  26. Rose says

    My husband and I helped a lady in our community anonymously through a friend that work with DHR. She had 3 children and was raising 2 for her sister and caring for her mother all while trying to work. We supplied school supplies and helped with Christmas until one day she let us know, through our friend, that she was able to do it on her own now. She sent us a gift with the information.

    • Robin says

      This was the fourth year of our Christmas Eve tradition that’s kind of similar to yours. We go to a local grocery store in a part of town with lower-income residents. We buy store gift cards and wander the aisles looking for people who could use some extra money to ease their shopping. In the past couple of years we have gotten some assistance from the undercover security in the store. This year, it led us to help a young single mom whose daughter had been in and out of the hospital, which meant she hadn’t been able to work much. We started talking to her and learned, heartbreakingly, that BOTH of her parents had died that week. She said she was glad to be at work because it was too sad being at home where everyone was crying. Each year after we do this, we share the story with our friends and family, and each year people give us a contribution toward our “elfing.” This year, because of their generosity, we gave away $750 on Christmas Eve. It’s my favorite thing we do all year. :-)

  27. Cynthia says

    What an amazing day you had! Such big hearts run in your family. So glad you were able to give so much to so many people.
    My “random” act of kindness this year was simply to help out a family I know that has always struggled during this time of year.
    One of my best friends is a woman named Jenna, and although she is nearly old enough to be my mother, she is a kid at heart and we share a lot of the same interests. Plus, her daughters Kyla and Naomi are adorable and hilarious and a joy to be around.
    I have known Jenna for about 3 years now, having met through my fiancees Survivalist group. (Her son was a member, but he has since moved away). You know, the guys who go out camping in the woods to try and see if they can survive on their own…anyways…
    Jenna and her family are in a pretty bad situation. They are on Food Stamps, Jenna has only about $100 of income a month, and both she and her youngest daughter have some pretty serious health issues. Jenna has been trying for years to get Disability benefits, but has always failed. But, she doesn’t let any of that get her down. She is always sharing what she has. Always sharing food with her neighbors, or inviting friends over for drinks and food. She even opened up her home over the summer to a friend and her son who had gotten evicted from where they lived. She is an amazing woman who never stops giving, even with as little as she has.
    When people started asking her, though Facebook, what they all wanted for Christmas, she listed a few things for the girls, but ultimately she needed basic essentials – shampoo, toilet paper, etc.
    When I saw that, I knew what I needed to do. I asked my fiancee if we could give Jenna a gift card to Walmart with some large sum on it that she could spend however she wanted. He agreed, and we put $100 on that card. Plus, after some foraging through the linen closet at my parent’s house, I discovered plastic zip-top bags FULL of those little sample packets of shampoo and conditioner. My parents are paper carriers, and had given out shampoo samples a few years ago with the paper. I put them in a big gift bag that wound up weighing about 10 lbs, just with the samples alone in it. (it was also big enough to carry all the girl’s presents)
    It was an absolute joy to bring an early Christmas to this wonderful family, and a real thrill to see Jenna’s face when she opened the envelope with the gift card in it, which I wrote the amount in big numbers on the inner flap. She exclaimed “Are you guys freaking serious?!?!?!”, her jaw dropped, and she started to tear up. She was amazed, and after the original shock wore off, she said “I have the best friends. I’m so blessed!”
    I’m hoping that next year, she is doing better financially, and maybe she can help me in finding more people to bring Random Acts of Kindness.

  28. Michelle says

    After eating in a nice restaurant, while walking to our car there was a homeless woman sitting on the ground shivering in a corner. She was cold and looked so sad and alone. I handed her my bag of leftovers. She took it and opened it immediately and ate it like she hadn’t eaten in days. She thanked me profusely as she inhaled the food. I’ve never seen anyone appreciate something as much as she did. I got in the car and welled up with tears. I was so grateful that I had that food to share with her.

  29. Suzanne says

    Last week I was waiting in line to checkout at Kroger. The woman in front of me couldn’t find her Kroger card, to get the discounts, so I offered to let her use mine. Before she left she put money down on the belt in front of my order and said “Merry Christmas, pay it forward when you can.” It wasn’t much but it was still an incredible gift and I’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to do the same for someone else.

  30. Romy says

    This happened to my friend on Christmas Eve. Her grocery bill came to approximately $9. A stranger came up and said that in memory of a friend’s daughter who had passed away all the friends and family of that daughter were doing random acts of kindness as a memorial. The stranger handed over a $10 bill. The recipient and cashier were left in tears.

    My RAOK: gave a handful of coins to my young niece and nephew and taught them about the Salvation Army bell ringers.

    Merry Christmas Jillee

  31. says

    I would have loved to have been able to give away sums of cash, but being on a fairly tight budget that’s not in the cards. Instead as I was doing my grocery shopping this last Sunday, I began handing out completely free item coupons to complete strangers. I try to make every dollar count and so I am fortunate enough to receive multiple totally free item coupons, and that day I just began giving them out. People were astounded! I came across a lady in the cold medicine aisle and I handed her a coupon for a free box of cold reliever, she looked shocked and thanked me with big eyes. Same thing in the bread and juice aisle. I may have to expand my couponing just to incorporate this more often!!

    • Alyson says

      One of my favorite things is to hand out coupons to people in the grocery store! People give me the strangest looks when I look at what they’re purchasing and start flipping through my coupon binder, but I’ve had so much fun helping people save $1 or $2 off their grocery bill! I agree with a lot of posters that RAOK don’t have to be monetary in nature (although that kind of elfing is super fun!) but whatever kind you choose… you end up being blessed just as much as the one you’re blessing.

  32. says

    Well, I live in the country and am basically a hermit, so I don’t get a chance to do RAOKs. But I will tell you of one. My daughter’s husband as health issues so their finances are almost nonexistent. My husband’s church decided to have a fund raiser for our daughter even though her church is 3 hours away. All because the church women wanted to do something for someone they knew OF … guess not really random. Oh, I bake bread for the church potlucks even though I don’t go to church.

    I really enjoyed reading of your family. What a wonderful idea.

  33. Cindy says

    I just hung up the phone after discussing with my grown son what our plans were next season to share our random act of kindness. The goal was to go to our neighborhood fire station to find the name of a family in need and buy toys and clothes and food for them. We did this during the Christmas season when our children were young, but the tradition stopped as they got older. Your article was an inspiration to begin that tradition again.

    If I win this gift card, we won’t wait until next Christmas, but will start our mission in the cold of this winter, using the money to help now.

    Thanks for sharing your sweet heart.

  34. Marcia says

    I know a “new” family with a little one and another on the way. One of the parents had been unemployed for most of the year & they were sad not to be able to give more than one gift to their son, so I sent a toy from Santa. Merry Christmas to all!

  35. Shanon Chaput says

    Hi Jillee and Family!
    I recently joined the 26 Acts of Kindness movement to honor the children and staff killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. While I have not finished all of my RAOK, here are a few of the things I have done:
    left 27 gifts at a local motel where a lot of people who are down on their luck stay. I dropped the gifts off on Saturday and it turns out the motel was having a Christmas party for the guests on Sunday!

    Okay, now for my 26 acts:
    Act # 1 – snowman pin left with a girl at Dunkin Donuts – in honor of Rachel D’Avino
    Act #2 – Bath and Body Works travel size products left with a cashier at the Family Christian Store – in honor of Anne Marie Murphy
    Act # 3 – votive candle and holder in honor of Lauren Rousseau – snuck it in to a cart at TJ Maxx
    Act #4 – in honor of Victoria Soto – gave a guy at Dewey’s Pizza a little gift for his wife when he asked why I gave a little boy matchbox cars (Act #9 – in honor of Dylan Hockley)
    Yes, my Acts are not in order – I was looking for the right people.
    Acts #5 – 6 in honor of Mary Sherlach and Dawn Hochsprung – left with the girls at Graeter’s ice cream when I bought a gift certificate in honor of Grace McDonnell (Act #12), who loved ice cream. I gave this to a little girl who was the only child dining with about 15 adults at Dewey’s.
    Act #7 – purchased Rosary beads in honor of Olivia Engel, who was learning the Rosary and donated them to our local Catholic Church.
    Act #13 – left coloring books and crayons with a little girl shopping with her Mom – in memory of Emilie Parker who loved to color and draw.
    Act #23 – in honor of Madeleine Hsu, who loved to read – gave a little girl shopping with her Mom and Grandma a “Fancy Nancy” book.
    Act #25 – will be bringing goodies to the local fire department in honor of Daniel Barden who wanted to be a firefighter and also in honor of the two firefighters who were murdered in Wesbter, New York on Christmas Eve.
    Act #26 – in memory of James Mattioli – gave a Subway gift card to a cashier at Joann Fabric. She was just about to go on her lunch break. James loved Subway and always wanted to know how old he had to be to order a “foot long”
    So, I still have Act #8 (Ana Marquez-Greene), #10 (Catherine Hubbard), #11 (Jesse Lewis), #14 (Noah Pozner), #15 (Jack Pinto), #16 (Jessica Rekos), #17 (Avielle Richman), #18 (Benjamin Wheeler), #19 Allison Wyatt), #20 (Charlotte Bacon), #21 (Caroline Previdi), #22 (Chase Kowalski), and #24 (Josephine Gay) to complete. I am trying to do something that includes what each child liked.

    So that is what I have been up to lately. I hope that more people will continue spreading the love through RAOK.
    Merry Christmas and Happy 2013!

    Shanon

  36. Sandra Sather says

    Just before Christmas my husband and I donated a half a beef to the food shelf. We raise beef cattle and thought this would be a good way to help out the community. The local butcher shop donated the cutting and wrapping.

  37. Jenn says

    What an inspiring post!
    Although money has been tight for our family, as it has been for many, we have still been blessed in so many ways so I also like to pass along of our blessings.
    Each year on Christmas Day, a canning jar is placed on our kitchen window sill to collect loose change and occasionally a paper bill of any denomination until the jar is full. We never count the cash but rather just trust that God is blessing each amount we deposit into the jar and will multiply its meaning to the one who receives it.
    Then on Christmas Eve I get up in the middle of the night, pray over the jar, and as God to direct me to family in my community that would be able to benefit from this gift. Like a ninja I sneak up on their porch and leave the jar by their door. This year was extra special for me as my youngest son is home from college and was excited to sneak around the neighborhood with me. He did the honors of choosing the house this year and was so excited at the thought of how the jar would be found and wondered what the family’s thoughts would be….and I was excited to share this secret (now not so secret) Christmas adventure with him.
    The new jar is on the sill waiting to be filled with blessings for someone new next year.

  38. Diana says

    I know of a family of 5. Both parents are in recovery for 12 years and because of their past mistakes aren’t able to get good jobs. They constantly struggle to make ends meet. Both Mother and Dad are good people and often do without to keep their kids clothed, fed and encourage them to do good things for others. They are trying to save some extra money to keep their children involved in sports. I would love to give them this gift card to help with sports equipment.

  39. Ann/alba says

    Wonderful post today,
    I work in retail i have be colored by grumpy people stressed out because of staffing issues had to keep a positive out look on something that should be celebrated with Joy Love & Kindness. Instead it seems to be the Dollar .
    That being said I was in line to check out when the lady infront of me got her total for her food purchases, Her Credit card was maxed cashier was told to cut it up( our store will not do this . ) with 2 children she proceeded to take items off her bill mostly the junk food, Now I was in a hurry the lady behind me was in a hurry & voiced it quite loudly, after all the junk food was taken off she totaled her bill Still did not have enough cash or debit, At this point the children started acting up so she asked to void the whole bill she was leaving.
    I have Never done this before Ever but before the cashier voided the bill I said NO total it handed her my discount card (10%) handed her my card paid for her food . On and added the chocolate chip cookies to the bill.
    The cashier who is one of my favorite peeps at work was crying as was the Lady who’s name was Patience She wanted to repay me I said you Just did.
    It is an Amazing feeling & yes I will do it again. Of course the Woman behind me was wiping her tears too. So really I made 2 people Happy.
    Have a good one Ann/alba.

  40. Linda says

    I often frequent my local Goodwill store looking for treasures. While there I noticed a father and son looking around in the toy department . The son picked up a football and showed it to his father with a big smile on his face. The father shook his head sadly. After the son put down the football I picked it up without him noticing. I purchased the football and as they were leaving the store I gave it to the boy. The look of surprise on both of their faces made my heart swell with joy. Sometimes you just know when the time is right for a random act of kindness.

  41. Krista says

    What a wonderful post to read this morning! I shared it on my facebook wall to inspire others. We don’t go out on a given day to do RAOK but my dh and I do things as they come up. We live in an especially poor community and it saddens your heart to see our elderly or young families struggle to pay for their purchases. On more then one account I have helped pay for transactions ahead of me in line. In the spirit of RAOK I had heard about on the radio, I paid for the person in line behind me in Starbucks. It really is a blessing and gift to be able to do something unexpected for someone even if it is just a $5 coffee.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family! God’s blessings

  42. Faith says

    My brother and his wife are a young couple to 2 small kids and they don’t make a whole lot of money so when it comes time for Christmas shopping they always go an put some things in layaway so they can pay a little at a time. Last year they put 200 dollars worth of stuff in stuff and they went to pay on the layaway and someone had payed off their layaway!! It was awesome!!

  43. Cindy Key says

    I loved reading the experiences of your family participating in random acts of kindness! We love doing them, too and have made it part of our lifestyle. Whether it’s paying for the person behind us in a drive through, dropping off a large bag of cat food to a lady that feeds wild cats or just taking someone’s cart back for them in the grocery store parking lot. A few days ago, I received a challenge from an artist friend of mine: to make 2013 the year of RAK’s! To find something to do for someone every day this year! What fun! I’m excited about it!

    • Stephanie in Brookville IN says

      This is a great idea! This is RAOK has been the talk of Facebook around my town for a couple of weeks. I will be posting this on my Facebook so that all can see the value of giving. I wish that everyone felt this way. What a world it would be!

  44. Tina C. says

    My RAOK was paying for an older gentleman’s groceries at Walmart. He was ahead of me in line & only had a few dollars of food stamps left so he was trying to decide to what groceries to put back, so I just paid for it all.

  45. Gertrude Ezell says

    Years ago we had some real personal tragedy – I was pregnant with my twins and amid it all and due to the circumstances, I had major complications. Add into that we (My Mom, my oldest son and I) were worried where our next few meals were going to come from. We were not due to receive food stamps for a while, and no one was working – so it was very stressful. My Mom was out with my son, at the doctor’s office and when she was doen loading my son into his seat, she turned around to find a lady standing behind her. This lady asked if Mom could use some milk – definitely we could. She handed over several gallons of milk, she then asked if we could use this food. We could. She ended up filling the trunk with all the groceries in her van. My Mom was in tears and thanked her profusely. As Mom put the last bag in the trunk, she turned to Thank her again, only to find the woman and her van gone – as if they had never been there. There was a good bit of snow in the parking lot, but no tracks, and no way for a van to leave without noticing. We never saw that lady again and never saw her before but the groceries where there. I don’t know who or what that lady was but she saved our family. Ever since then we’ve tried to do good deeds – not just at Christmas, but all through the year. Circumstances have changed for our family and we are doing well now – we donate to local food banks and Salvation Army Kitchens, we donate clothing and toiletry items to teen shelters and women’s shelters. We do what we can, when we can. Really goes to show how something small can make such a huge difference in a family’s life.
    Thank You!

  46. April says

    Would love to be able to help a few people with their medical expenses that are overwhelming them this year. A friend has joined me in making prayer shawls for those grieving this holiday season.

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