I have witnessed several instances this winter where people are paying it forward. Some are old tricks while others are completely new ideas to me. Either way, people are taking time out of their day to help others and it makes me smile. I thought I'd share a few examples of what people are doing. It may be cold outside but some people sure know how to warm your heart.
Many of you have probably heard of people paying for the customer behind them. This popular act has some flexibility as it could mean getting a coffee for the person behind you in the drive-through, feeding someone's expired parking meter or covering an event admission fee for the next person in line. My friend recently experienced this for the first time at a coffee shop and was taken by surprise when the employee said the person ahead of her had already picked up her tab. The act was unexpected and got us talking about how a simple gesture can make somebody's day. She said she would definitely return the favor the next time she needed a coffee.
A local resident shared this next activity with me. It is a game their family plays with their kids around the holidays but it could be done any time of year. I really liked the idea and thought it would be worth sharing. Each child in the family received $10 one week before their family Christmas gathering. They were supposed to spend the money on something for the greater good and it was completely up to that child to decide how they would spend it. Then at Christmas (or whenever you are playing the game), everybody shares what was purchased. I'm sure it would be interesting to see the kids get creative and hear what they felt was most deserving of the money. These particular kids chose to replace the classroom's goldfish that unexpectedly died that week and finished up with some thank-you flowers for their parents. I don't have kids of my own yet but I think I'll have to remember this for the future.
Another instance involves some friends of ours spending the first snow scooping their neighbors' driveway. Their beloved neighbor would scoop their driveway every winter but had recently fallen ill and was not able to get outside anymore. Apparently his kindness was missed by all of his neighbors because it quickly became a neighborhood snow scooping party. They made light of the hard work knowing they could repay the work he had done for everyone for so many years.
Finally, the unfortunate incident in Newtown, Connecticut has inspired the "26 Acts of Kindness" movement in honor of the 26 children and teachers who lost their lives. The campaign encourages people to carry out acts of kindness and has spread all over the world in a very short amount of time. People across the country have donated food and toys to local organizations while others have volunteered their time at shelters. Locally, teachers are discussing new ways to donate their unused sick days to fellow teachers who may be in need of more time off. No matter how big or small the act, the kindness is expected to continue long after the dust has settled in Newtown. People are determined to show something good can come from such a tragedy.
These acts are just a few examples of good happening around us. Maybe they will inspire others to continue the trend of kindness and prove that even the smallest act can make a big impact.