In the United States of America, if there are only a few cultural themes that span over all groups, celebration would be one. We celebrate sports, music, art, literature, the passing of time (New Years Eve is literally about time passing into another year), anything. But what about kindness?
Today there is a chance to celebrate kindness on a large scale, with Random Act of Kindness Day.
Photo: Sandrachile on Unsplash
If you can’t think of any ways to celebrate today, here are 12 Random Acts of Kindness:
Tip your barista extra well. The service industry is not an easy job to have, and the people that take it all with a smile deserve the best we can. Instead of dumping the change in your palm into the jar, or ignoring it on your card, give them an extra two dollars. It goes further than you think.
Be more thoughtful driving. The morning and evening commute is a stressful time for everyone. Everyone has places to be and no time to get there. Allowing someone to merge into your lane or following the zipper pattern will make their day better than it was.
Give to your local homeless population. They are often ignored by people walking by, or even treated poorly. This time of year can be especially hard with the cold nights and days. Give warm clothes or blankets, food, water or money, if you can. Extend the help you can in that time and be polite.
Write thank-you notes for your office maintenance worker, the janitors that keep the school or dorms clean, for the mail carrier who’s been out in the cold, wet weather for weeks. A little show of gratitude will go a long way for those who often are overlooked. Maybe slip a gift card inside to a local coffee shop to help support a small business!
Give someone extra time. Parking is stressful enough in cities and towns. If you notice someone’s parking timer is about to run out, the spare change in your pocket will do them more good than you in that moment.
Donate to a Black, Indigenous, and/or Person of Color’s art or activism. They do so much work, emotionally, intellectually, physically, to educate those who live with privileges. They interact with many people who challenge the idea their work as unnecessary or wrong, usually without financial compensation. Donating to their cause not only allows them to keep educating, it provides them with the knowledge that their work has been listened to. (Reparations are necessary for other reasons, but this is for a different purpose)
Volunteer. Even if you normally volunteer, maybe try at a different location or try a different skill. If you have not volunteered before, there is never a wrong time to start. Spending your time assisting others is a good way to spend the day.
Hold the door. It can be for anyone, even a whole group of people. Most people will appreciate an open door, especially if their arms are full. Never insist on holding it though, if someone says they’ve got it - they’ve probably got it.
Donate food to a local pantry. Dry pasta and canned goods can last for months, or even years, and there are many other non-perishable items in a house that can be sorted and donated.
Surprise your grandparents. No matter where they are, your grandparents miss seeing and hearing about your life. Take the time to visit with them for the afternoon, or make plans for lunch during the week.
Invite a friend out for brunch. It’s always fun to get together with friends, but make this brunch extra special for them by making it your treat.
Be thoughtful of yourself. Sometimes the last people we are kind to is ourselves. We often push our own wants, needs, and opinions to the side for the benefit of others. today, take time for yourself and treat yourself kindly - however that is. Because you’re supposed to be kind to everyone that day.
Sarina Alley is a Salem State University graduate, living off the coast of Maine; she currently watches the effects of global warming very personally.