This is not just a rainy cold week in February. It’s Random Acts of Kindness Week. And the day you receive this newspaper in your mailbox, Feb. 17, is RAK Day. So, what are we to do? How do we celebrate such an occasion?
It’s simple: Be random, be kind.
I first heard about the concept of random acts of kindness many years ago. A group of girlfriends had met for happy hour and a teacher among us mentioned that she had gotten the nicest surprise that week. An anonymous person had dropped off at the school a box of supplies for her classroom.
She kept talking about how cool it was that someone knew exactly what she needed, but she hadn’t mentioned the need to anyone but a few friends and other teachers.
As the teacher continued to ponder, she realized the donor must be one of a very small circle of friends, someone who was often at the school, and might even be a parent.
As she put two and two together, she suddenly realized that the generous donor was sitting across from her, and blurted out, “It had to be YOU!” They both shed a few happy tears, for the gift and for the appreciation. The donor said, “It was just a random act of kindness that I wanted to do.”
Since then, I’ve tried to practice RAK occasionally – nothing outstanding nor expensive, nothing that needs to be acknowledged.
And then it happened to me.
Pulling up to a drive-through window after waiting in a very long for coffee, I was told, “The car in front of you paid for your order.” What a joy!
I was so surprised and tickled that I immediately said, “Well, I want to do that for the next car!” The barista chuckled and said, “That makes seven!”
One person’s random act of kindness had inspired six others to reciprocate. I asked what the record was at that store. She thought it was about nine in a row.
In my neighborhood, people tend to be very caring and kind. When the guy next door is mowing his lawn, he sometimes crosses the property line to cut the grass along our driveway. I’ve seen others doing the same with their next-door neighbors.
The lady next door has access to a farm where lots of produce is grown. She sometimes comes over with a basket of goodies – “I have all these tomatoes and can’t eat them all.”
Last year, I watched as another neighbor walked a portable basketball goal from his driveway to the driveway across the street. His kids were long gone, and the neighbor kids had just gotten tall enough to need a regulation sized basket.
Have you seen videos of folks paying the grocery bill for strangers at Thanksgiving? Those are random acts of kindness.
Have you ever stopped on the side of a road to help someone change a tire? That’s a random act of kindness too.
Have you ever pulled your wallet to pay your bar tab and been told by the bartender that the guy at the end of the bar already paid it? That could be someone trying to pick you up. But it might also be a random act of kindness.
The idea of “paying it forward” goes right along with random acts of kindness. When someone does something nice for you, you can pay it forward by doing something nice for someone else.
If you want to try it but don’t have any ideas, there’s an entire year’s worth of suggestions at RandomActsofKindness.org. You can see some suggestions in this issue on page 39A, where Hargray’s Lynn Hall gives ideas for RAK online.
It’s not brain surgery, and it doesn’t have to cost a dime. RAK can be simple, thoughtful gestures.
Share the love, explore the good, make kindness the norm.