make a difference
I love to imagine kindness as confetti — bringing joy into the lives of everyone it touches. Here’s some inspiration to fuel your giving practice:
Be a friend in deed.
In this New York Times article, Bruce Feiler writes about active vs. passive kindness. Both are anchored in good intentions, but active kindness removes the burden of having to ask for help from friends or strangers who could use a hand to hold onto. I was reminded how being present and proactive allows a commitment to kindness to become the foundation of my everyday life.
Our instinct is often to say to a friend who’s suffering, “Let me know if there’s anything you need.” While well meaning, this gesture unintentionally shifts the obligation to the aggrieved. Instead of offering “anything,” just do something. I heard of friends who sent packing supplies to someone getting divorced, and others who held a “fire shower,” a bridal shower type of gathering for a friend who had lost her home.
Feiler’s suggestions inspire generosity of spirit and shows how we all benefit when we lean on each other.
Let your creativity inspire others.
This weapon of mass instruction is the brainchild of artist Raul Lemesoff, a brilliantly creative Argentinian. When 7Up commissioned him to make something to celebrate World Book Day, he created this rolling library armed with over 900 books that he gives out for free. How could your passion ignite a positive spark in others?
Slow down to see a child.
I thought I was moving through life with my eyes wide open. . . and then I read ETCHED IN SAND, Regina Calcaterra’s riveting memoir. Regina’s story includes many acts of kindness that helped to sustain her as she and her four siblings survived an unspeakable childhood. ETCHED IN SAND made me realize that in the busyness of everyday life, it’s possible to move so quickly that we might not recognize a child who needs our help — a meal, school supplies, clothes, a hug, a safe place to sleep, a smile, words of encouragement, protection . . .
I’m grateful to Regina for reminding me just how important it is to open my eyes and see. (This book is a must read!)
The story of Caine’s Arcade is another example of how slowing down to see a child can change the world. Watch the video to see how a chance meeting that became a life-changing experience for a 9 year-old boy evolved into a creative movement that inspires hundreds of children . . .
Light up the future for young people.
High school students are inundated with decisions and can feel overwhelmed by choices. Sharing your “day in the life” experiences with young people is a way to support their transition into adulthood.
Whether you get involved through a school-sponsored job shadow program, visit a classroom or youth organization to answer questions or make time to talk to the inquisitive neighbor who mows your lawn about her interest in your career, you’re shining a light on their path.
Write a love letter to a stranger.
Wonder just how transformational writing a love letter to someone you don’t even know might be? Let Hannah Brencher explain . . .
Imagine how good you’d feel if you received a care package today. Now imagine how good it feels to receive a care package when you’re serving your country thousands of miles from home. Operation Gratitude makes it simple to say thank you to our soldiers.
Practice random acts of kindness.
The ripple effect of a single random act of kindness is impossible to measure. Check out these random acts of kindness.
Spread local love.
When you contribute money or donations to a local charity, your generosity becomes part of the very fabric of the community. In my hometown, organizations like The Retreat Domestic Violence Services, C.A.S.T. (Community Action Southold Town), Maureen’s Haven and John’s Place provide a network of invaluable support. There are also annual initiatives like Wish Factory, Inc., the charitable foundation I created to make the holiday season brighter for local families in need. What local organizations could use your time, talent or financial support?
Pay it forward.
There’s nothing like sharing our good fortune with others. Whether we leave an especially large gratuity at the diner, visit a housebound neighbor or share a smile with a stranger at the post office, we can pay it forward one gesture — or, in the case of this Philadelphia pizzeria, one slice — at time.