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!


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


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.



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

ROAK winner


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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  1. 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!

  2. 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.

    • Sarah says

      I have payed for the next customer in line at at various drive thrus like Starbucks and Chick Fil A. It’s a good feeling to give someone an unexpected treat.

  3. 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. :-)

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!!!

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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

  10. 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.