At a recent event of United Way of Southeastern Connecticut, President and CEO Virginia L. Mason asked everyone in the audience to inspire kindness and “pay it forward.” As added encouragement, she provided each person with a $5 bill and asked them to pass it onto someone in need. Several individuals shared their heartwarming stories back to United Way.
There was a group of employees from Mohegan Sun in attendance, and they decided to pool their dollars together and make a significant gift to someone in need. They wrote, “All ten of us at the table agreed to help one single individual. We chose to help out someone who is an inspiration to us all. She works hard and gives her all to her family, her job and her community every day. She is a single mother of three young children and she could use just a little help to make it through this week with gas, diapers and basic back to school supplies every kid needs.”
Another individual in attendance from Riverfront Children’s Center wrote, “A few days after I returned from the United Way Breakfast, two of our neighborhood boys came around, collecting money and donations for pets that were displaced during Hurricane Harvey in Texas. I gladly added the $5 to the donation I made to them.”
Another person shared, “I work at Mohegan Elementary School and attended the United Way Breakfast…I received my $5 donation there. I brought it back to work and we had a dress down day for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. That $5 turned into $140 and we sent that off to United Way Worldwide. Thanks for the inspiration.”
While United Way’s event encouraged individuals to perform random acts of kindness with their $5, the month of October sees two national days of inspiration to do good for others. October 5th is National Do Something Nice Day and October 28th is National Make a Difference Day (or the fourth Saturday of every October). Both provide opportunities to remind us to do the little things that can make a big difference to those around us who may be in need.
You need not wait for a special “day” to do something nice for others, and often times, there are free or nearly free ways to do it. Of course, donating your hard-earned dollar is always appreciated, but here are some other ways you can be an inspiration and pay it forward, according to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website:
- Compliment the first three people you talk to today.
- Tell someone they dropped a dollar (even though they didn’t). Then give them a dollar.
- Donate old towels or blankets to an animal shelter.
- Say “hi” to the person next to you on the elevator.
- Let someone go in front of you in line who only has a few items.
- Encounter someone in customer service who is especially kind? Take an extra five minutes to tell their manager.
- Leave unused coupons next to corresponding products in the grocery store.
- Try to make sure every person in a group conversation feels included.
- Write a kind message on your mirror with a dry erase marker for yourself, your significant other or a family member.
- Send a gratitude email to a coworker who deserves more recognition.
- Hold up positive signs for traffic or in a park for people exercising outside!
- Return shopping carts for people at the grocery store.
- Have a clean up party at a beach or park.
- When you’re throwing something away on the street, pick up any litter around you and put that in the trash too.
- Everyone is important. Learn the names of your office security guard, the person at the front desk and other people you see every day. Greet them by name. Also say “hello” to strangers and smile. These acts of kindness are so easy, and they almost always make people smile.
- Find opportunities to give compliments. It costs nothing, takes no time, and could make someone’s entire day. Don’t just think it. Say it.
- Keep an extra umbrella at work, so you can lend it out when it rains.
- Send a ‘Thank you’ card or note to the officers at your local police or fire station.
- Put your phone away while in the company of others.
- When you hear that discouraging voice in your head, tell yourself something positive — you deserve kindness too!
Read more ideas at www.randomactsofkindness.org. And who knows? The little bit of kindness your show towards someone may start a chain reaction that ripples throughout your entire neighborhood or community!