A few weeks ago, I got 2 new tattoos on my wrists – live fully with my little blog birdie and love fully with a cross. I get strange looks from people who ask about them; the connection between love and the cross isn't as obvious to everyone else as it is to me. Christ is love. He loved everyone: the sick, the old, the poor, the sinners, the slaves, his friends, his enemies, all humanity. He loved, and I aspire to love like that.
That love is what random acts of kindness are all about.
Random acts of kindness make everyone feel good. They make the giver and the receiver leave the interaction with triumphant smiles on their faces, and they improve even the worst of days.
One of my favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 3:27 which says (and I'm paraphrasing),
Do not walk by a man in need, for you may be the hand of God to that man.
Teach your children to be the hand of God by letting them see you do it.
In all honesty, your kids aren't going to have the resources to do everything on this list, but they can be involved in everything on this list, and that, in my opinion, is the most important thing of all.
- Tithe their allowance. Your kids should see you tithing cheerfully, and you should help them to see that God will use their money to do great things in your community and across the world. Talk with them (to the best of their understanding) about your church's finances – charities and ministries and missionaries that your church supports, and encourage them to give 10% of what they earn.
- Make shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. They take donations all year long.
- Sponsor a child. We sponsor two children through Compassion International, and Grace loves to write letters to them and send them paper gifts.
- Donate food to the local food bank.
- Volunteer to help distribute food at the food bank.
- Ask a senior citizen in your church how you can help him or her. There's always something to be done.
- Make homemade bird feeders and hang them outside. Talk about how God wants us to be good stewards of the earth and its creatures.
- Feed ducks or geese. My kids feed the fowl every time we go to Hersheypark. They stand for a half hour or more, tossing corn to greedy birds. The kids never get tired of it; we have to pull them away every single time. It's a good lesson, though, in stewardship and kindness.
- Donate stuff. (Here's a comprehensive list of who needs what.) In my family, we need our stuff. We try to hoard it. Kids, especially, wrap their feelings up in the stuff that belongs specifically to them. In my home, we frequently sift through our bookshelves and toy boxes and kitchen cabinets and closets and purses, and we filter out the things that we no longer need. We donate different things in different places – books go to the library for their used book sale, toys and clothing goes to an organization that raises money for wounded veterans. Baby and kid stuff go to a pregnancy center. Our kids see us getting rid of our stuff, and it becomes a normal part of getting new stuff.
- Make care kits for the homeless. That family keeps the kits in their car, and they hand them out whenever they're moved to do so.
- Make chemo care packages. The same family made chemo care packages that made me cry (we lost my mother to pancreatic cancer last year).
- Make a card to send to out of town family. Teach your children that they don't only have to serve strangers.
- Create a love jar for their dad.
- Bring treats to a neighbor.
- Bring treats to drivers at a truck stop.
- Bring treats to police officers or fire fighters.
- Play games at a senior center. Often there is a game of bingo, cards, or Yahtzee going on at ours. If your kids are old enough to play nicely, they will probably be welcome participants. (Though not always, so ask first.)
- Give up your seat on a bus, bench, or other public place to a pregnant woman or someone older than you.
- Contribute to or pay the bill of the car behind you in the drive thru.
- The next time you go out for breakfast, buy breakfast for a senior citizen or another family with young kids.
- Pick up trash in your neighborhood.
- Tidy up grave sites that have been overlooked.
- Sign up to deliver Meals on Wheels.
- Shelve books at the library. This is a great way to teach your children about the alphabet and Dewey decimal system.
- Send or hand deliver homemade cards to children or the elderly in hospitals or nursing homes.
- Leave $5 in an envelope with a note to the effect of “Do something good with this” in a public place.
- Tip generously.
- Thank people genuinely.
- Help a neighbor who could use a hand.
- Foster a homeless pet.
- Volunteer at an animal shelter.
- Send art to Color A Smile.
- Pay a compliment to a stranger.
- Put change in a vending machine.
- Let someone go ahead of you in the checkout line.
- Hold the elevator.
- Hold the door.
- Organize a stuffed animal collection. Donate the toys to a homeless shelter, abused women's shelter, or to a center for foster children.
- Contact a local agency for foster kids and make care packages for their children. Often children arrive at the center with nothing and have great needs.
- Write letters and send care packages to servicemen and women, especially those overseas.
- Read to the blind.
- Find a pen pal in a nursing home.
- Make and deliver fleece blankets to hospitals.
- Hold a lemonade stand for Alex's Lemonade Stand.
- Adopt an animal via the World Wildlife Fund.
- Collect pencils.
- Have a playdate in the evening so that a mom and dad can have a date.
- Donate used sports equipment to the league to be given to someone who can't afford to buy their own.
- Write thank you notes.
- Put a quarter in an expired parking meter.
- Park far from the store, leaving the close spaces for someone else.
- When you're using a public space, leave it cleaner than when you arrived.
- Put a sticky note on a public bathroom mirror that says, “You're beautiful.”
- Shovel your neighbor's driveway or weed her flower bed.
- Cook a meal for a friend who is stressed (new baby, new home, new job, whatever).
- Give a bottle of water to the bus or taxi driver.
- Ask the clerk how her day is going and really listen to her answer.
- Clip coupons for things you don't use and leave them on the shelf in the grocery store.
- Make a card thanking your mail carrier.
- Say bless you when anyone sneezes.
- Bring flowers to someone for no reason.
© 2014 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.