Missouri Ozarks

Random Acts of Kindness


It’s Thanksgiving week and many of us are preparing to gather on Thursday to give thanks and to celebrate the gifts for which we are grateful. We have so very many reasons for thanks. Our lives, fragile and never quite far enough from the precipice of eternity. The love and friendships of those among us, near and far, and those who have already gone ahead to save us seats. The roofs above our heads, leaky or dry, the walls and windows around us, drafty or not, the floors beneath our feet. The clothes on our backs. The feast before us. The love in our hearts…

This year, I am thankful to so many for so much. For the many condolences and loving gestures after my father and aunt died, the tremendous help and time and food and resources given when my house was hit by the tornado. My Most Beloved Twin Brother who upended his life to come out and direct and lead the post-tornado recovery and repair. The rest of the family, all of whom were unwavering in their support. The delightful surprise of finding Sandy and Bobby Emery and their hot-shot grandson, Xander, had mowed my enormous lawn simply because they were working across the street and had the time. To my Dear Friend and the wonderfully caring Vets who came to my rescue again and again… To all of you who have held me and helped me and surprised me with your love and generosity, you have my eternal gratitude.

As full as my heart is — and believe me, it is bursting with joy — this is also an unquiet time in the world.  Terror attacks abroad. The tools of war rattling in their cases. The stirrings of civil discontent. A presidential election that has most people shaking their head, in one direction or the other. The growing helplessness seen in the face of incivility and random violence.

I am easily moved by the world’s currents. Right now, they seem to be flowing in a dangerous direction, one that could lead to much more fear and sorrow. I weep for those killed, for those threatened, and for a way of life and freedom that may be changed, temporarily or forever, in the name of honor and self-defense.

But, I am a huge believer in the power of faith and action. Of goodness conquering evil. Of love being the ultimate solution to what ails humankind and the earth we live on.

And so, in the face of terror, of violence, of suffering, I have committed to sprinkling a little joy, a little happiness wherever I can, to performing as many random acts of kindness as I can think of. Most won’t cost me anything except a little thoughtfulness and a little time, or a few things I already have on hand. A few may cost me the price of a cup of coffee or fast food meal. But all, or most, will give the opportunity for someone to smile, to brighten their day in small ways.

If you’d like to join me, to help to build a Random Act of kindness Army to keep good ahead of evil, I’ve put together a list of 100 random acts of kindness that can be easily performed to surprise people and spread happiness. There are millions more that I haven’t thought of, but this is a start. Add to it. Change things to fit the people in your life and the places you visit. If you’d like, email me and tell me what you’ve done. We can make the list even longer. My email address is: river@riverstillwood.com.

I am utterly committed to making the world just a little bit better every single day.  I hope you’ll join me.

“100 Random Acts of Kindness”

1 Smile at people. Say hello.

2 Tell someone that you are proud of her or him.

3 Pass on the email and newspaper coupons you don’t use to someone who can use them.

4 Call a lonely neighbor.

5 Donate to a food bank.

6 Send a card to someone who is sick.

7 Talk to a veteran. Ask them about their military career. Thank them for their service.

8 Slip a note saying “You matter more than you know!” under the windshield of a random car or truck.

9 Buy the drink or the meal for the occupant of the car behind you at the drive-thru.

10 Draw a picture for someone. Even if you have no drawing talent!

11 Tell a parent what a wonderful child they are raising.

12 Over-tip your waiter or waitress.

13 Bake cookies and surprise someone needing a pick-me-up.

14 Cut firewood for someone who uses it for heat.

15 Tie a bag with a coffee mug, cocoa packets, and marshmallows to someone’s doorknob when they’re not home.

16 Call a grandparent simply to talk.

17 Reconnect with old schoolmates, coworkers and buddies online. Tell them how much you’ve missed them.

18 Leave your change in the vending machine change drop.

19 Make something now for a future community fundraiser.

20 Volunteer – there are so many great organizations and senior facilities that need help!

21 Think of a cause you would like to support and set aside a coin jar to fill for it.

22 Get the neighbor always borrowing your copy of the newspaper their own subscription.

23 Give someone a heartfelt compliment

24 Leave a kind note in a family member’s sock drawer.

25 Do something without being asked or reminded to do it.

26 Make little care packages with hygiene products, vitamins and snacks to give to homeless people.

27 Leave a bag of a coworker’s favorite candy on his or her desk.

28 Help someone load their groceries into their vehicle and take the cart back to the store for them.

29 Buy something for the person behind you at the grocery store.

30 Sit down and really talk to a senior citizen

31 Say a prayer for someone who really needs God’s help.

32 When the weather warms, mow someone’s yard for them.

33 Bring a hot meal to someone who is sick or hungry or overtaxed with work or responsibilities

34 Buy a child a pair of shoes, winter coat, hat, scarf, or mittens.

35 Give blood.

36 Tell yourself that you’re doing your best and that’s good enough.

37 Take the dog out and really play with it.

38 Invite someone to a free music night or other community event.

39 Help a neighbor get their yard and home ready for winter.

40 At night, escort a person to their car.

41 Make a list of 10 things you absolutely love about someone and leave it for them to find.

42 Write “If you’re waiting for a sign, this is it!” and leave it in Bibles at church for someone else to find. God works in mysterious ways…

43 Offer to watch someone’s kids for free so that the parents can spent a surprise night out.

44 Anonymously send flowers to someone.

45 Donate items you no longer want to your church, shelters or cause-based thrift stores.

46 Knit, crochet, or sew a hat or shawl for a cancer patient.

47 Tape coins on a vending machine and invite someone to get a treat on you.

48 Cover a bare bicycle seat with a grocery sack if it’s threatening rain.

49 Take a long walk with someone you haven’t recently spent much time with.

50 Help someone write a resume, fill out an application, and find a job.

51 Turn off all of your electronics for one day and spend the time with family and friends.

52 Gather friends and family and go to the nearest senior center to sing Christmas Carols or seasonally appropriate songs

53 Deliver stuffed animals to a hospital pediatric unit.

54 Call a neighbor and ask if you can pick anything up for them before heading to the grocery store.

55 Walk along your roadway or street and pick up trash.

56 Thank a firefighter for the courageous work they do.

57 Donate food, leashes, collars, or funds to the local animal shelter.

58 Read to someone.

59 Bring a hot cup of coffee or tea to someone who could use it.

60 Say ‘I love you” whenever it crosses your mind.

61 Drop off a surprise box of children’s books to a nursery or daycare center

62 Buy $10 of fuel for the person who uses the pump after you.

63 Bring flowers to a grave,

64 Volunteer at a Veteran’s Hospital, outreach, simply help a local veteran.

65 Let the other car go first at a stop sign.

66 Help a child with their homework or studies

67 Surprise someone with a pie or cake or other treat.

68 Offer to help someone with a project or chore.

69 Not much of a cook? Put together the ingredients for a lovely supper for someone and bring them to their house so they can prepare them at their leisure.

70 Write a letter to someone who really made a difference in your life.

71 Start a list of things you’d like to do for other people and do one each week (or more often!)

72 Tell a child that they are greatest thing since Swiss cheese and sliced bread – with mustard on top!

73 Share garden produce and canned items with your neighbors.

74 Make someone breakfast in bed.

75 Leave a thank you note or small gift in your mailbox for your mail carrier.

76 Teach someone a craft.

77 Take someone to a doctor’s appointment.

78 Turn an old cupboard into a water-tight cabinet and start a neighborhood lending library.

79 Donate coloring books and new crayons to the pediatric unit of a hospital.

80 Become an organ donor.

81 Hold open the door for folks.

82 Fix an especially sumptuous supper for someone or people you love.

83 Let go of one thing that makes you angry or unhappy.

84 Tape a gift certificate for a cup of coffee or sandwich or small amount of money to someone’s car window.

85 Ask a child to tell you his or her favorite story. Help them, if they aren’t used to telling stories. Really listen and ask questions.

86 Leave $5 on a shelf in a store for someone else to find.

87 Help repair your church, fire department building, or a neighbor’s home

88 Bring wrapped, token gifts to folks in an eldercare home.

89 Hang someone’s Christmas lights for them.

90 Leave extra quarters in the laundromat with a note inviting someone in need to wash a load.

91 If merchandise has fallen in a store, pick it up and put it where it goes.

92 Leave out plenty of birdseed and water for our feathered friends.

93 Make a little page of coupons of things you’ll do for someone and let them redeem them over the course of a year.

94 Send a thank you card telling a person how meaningful something they did was to you.

95 Tell a hard worker that you see how hard they are working.

96 Leave a box of size-appropriate diapers on the doorstep of a family with an infant.

97 Thank a police officer for helping to keep you safe.

98 Start a journal to list at least one thing every day that you are thankful for.

99 Say thank you. Always. For everything you appreciate and are grateful for.

100 Remember to be kind to yourself.