Random Acts of Kindness

Mandi Hayes-Spencer

A Random Act of Kindness is defined as a selfless act performed by a person or people wishing to either assist or cheer up an individual person or people.

I love the fact that, no matter how horrible or rough the world can get, there are still people out there who will go out of their way to make someone’s day. Even if the kindness is a small one in the grand scheme of things, the person on the receiving end will more than likely never forget the person who, at a moment in their lives when they needed help, had the heart to offer it.

While the holidays are a good time to remember all of the good in your life-your family, your friends, health and happiness- it’s also a reminder that there a lot of people out there who have none of those things.

The truth is, there are people outside of your television sets who are sick, starving, without homes or family. We don’t know how they got there and we all have our own opinions on that subject, but the fact of the matter is-they are real people who have hearts that beat just like yours and mine.

For this reason I decided I would go about this article just a little differently than normal.

On my Facebook page, I sent out a status update asking people to commit a Random Act of Kindness and let me know about what they did and how it made them feel.

The response was nothing short of absolutely extraordinary. I have spent a lot of time since then staring at my Facebook or my email crying my eyes out at the stories I’ve read. My husband told me I’d turned into a walking, talking Hallmark commercial. I would start to read him an email and, instead of speaking in full sentences, I would snot and cry at him in gibberish.

Needless to say, now he just reads them so he can actually understand what is going on.

One of the first messages I received was a doozy.

Brenda wrote: "I was walking through the mall yesterday on my way to JC Penny to do a little shopping for my family. I was actually going to buy my Mamaw a new bathrobe because I’d seen they were on sale in an ad somewhere. On my way there, I walked past that Giving Tree they have there with all of the little kid’s names hung on it like ornaments. I walked over and looked and felt awful that this Christmas tree was like a monument to how bad the world was getting because it was so full.

Then, I had the best idea! I remembered your Facebook posting. I still had five family members left and decided that instead of getting them bathrobes or whatever else that they didn’t really need, I’d take five names off the tree and buy the presents listed on them and donate the gifts to these kids on behalf of each one of my family members. I ended up spending a whole lot more than what I’d planned, but I have to say that I have never felt so good about a Christmas in my life knowing that maybe some child, somewhere, will have at least a small Christmas."

How amazing is that? Five kids get a Christmas! Brenda is awesome!

Chantel wrote: "I was in line to pay my electric bill and in front of me was a couple talking to customer service about what they had to pay in order to keep they're electric from being shut off. The man said he had recently lost his job, and it was obvious they were in need.

I overheard the lady behind the counter say they only needed $5.00 to keep it on, but it was due that day. The couple stood there trying to figure out how to get $5.00 for over 10 minutes. After paying my bill, I slid the 5.00 over to them on the counter. I know it’s not much, but by the look in their eyes you would have thought I had given them a million dollars.

It was humbling because I sometimes get upset about not being able to afford designer purses and things like that, and all they wanted was to keep their electricity."

Again, just fantastic. As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing small about this and I am sure that couple feels the same way.

This last one is amazing because I think they kind of go together.

I got the first message from Sara, and the second message was passed through a friend from a man named George.

Sara wrote: "My husband and I paid for the meal of the car behind us in the drive-thru at Taco Bell. We told the drive thru attendant to wish them a Merry Christmas and drove off with a smile on our face and wondered what the people would think when they realized their meal was paid for. It wasn’t much but it was really neat to think that we’d surprised somebody we didn’t know!

George wrote: "I went through Taco Bell and when I got to the window to pay for my food the guy said it was free! The car in front had paid for it and said to wish me a Merry Christmas. It felt good to know that others care, even strangers. I told the guy I'd pay the car behind me and tell them the same, to wish them a Merry Christmas. It felt good to pass it forward. It's that time of year we all need to help even if it's just a smile and a friendly word to a stranger. Life's short enjoy the music and dance every song like it's your last. Bless one and all!"

What are the chances that these people were at the same Taco Bell? Not only did I cry my face off at the fact that they paid it forward, I was just shocked at what could either be coincidence or a big-time case of serendipity.

I plan on sharing these stories for a few more columns. It would do the heart a little good to read something nice for a change, right? I have all kinds to share and hope you all will get the same warmth from it that I do.

I am certainly learning a lot from these examples and plan to do my part. How about you?

If you’d like to share your story, comment below or feel free to email me at mhspencer@rocketmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

Until next week, remember: If you see me running around with a splotchy face, a snotty nose and two very swollen eyes-don’t worry. I’ve just been reading my email.

Click here to read Random Acts of Kindness, Part Two.

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