Have you ever been at a Starbucks and the person in front of you paid for your drink and you duplicated this act? You can thank Random Acts of Kindness Day for gestures like this that sometimes happen more than once a year. How did this day become a movement around the globe? It all started in a humble restaurant in California. On a day in 1982, a woman scribbled the words "practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty" on a place mat. The phrase started to catch on and what started out as a simple idea became quotes on bumper stickers and other items. About a decade later, a college professor had his class perform a random act of kindness for a project and soon it became a movement that spread throughout the U.S. 

However, the troubles of the world like hunger, poverty or politics can be so overwhelming that you might feel that you can't contribute. We know we can’t solve the world’s problems in one day, but you can do something wherever you are. "Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you," Princess Diana said. It is pretty cool if you stop to think of it. What we sow, we do reap for the good or for the bad. Today think of the randoms act of kindness that you can do for a total stranger. Once you get started, who knows where it will take you.

Buy people coffee.

As mentioned with the Starbucks example, buy someone's treat or coffee. It doesn't need to be on Random Acts of Kindness Day. You can be in any store and can purchase something for a stranger. Try buying a carafe of coffee and bagels and drop it off at the police department or your local volunteer rescue team.

Donate items.

You can donate old glasses to help others who can’t afford them. The Lions Club International runs a “Recycle for Sight” program. You can donate by mail or drop them off. What clothes can you donate? Be generous and don’t donate clothes that you wouldn’t even wear with holes or stains. You might know of someone that needs or who wants an outfit that they can't afford. You can buy this anonymously and put a note in it to encourage them.

Find opportunities to give compliments.

Reflect on the people in your life that have inspired you. Now take that and inspire strangers. Do at the store, at work, or anywhere you can share a little light. Don't hold back praising another person. Sometimes we think of a compliment and talk ourselves out of it. Share a Scripture, a positive quote or a funny joke. A word of caution, however. You might have the impulse to back down because of fear. Refute these arguments with yourself and don't back down.

Show gratitude.

Showing gratitude goes a long way! This simple act of saying "thank you” is one of the most important things we can do for anyone. For some reason, we don‘t do it often for our own family let alone for strangers. Show gratitude towards the people you work with that you don't know. Send an email to just say "thanks" for their help on a project or for the help that they offered in the past. They might not be strangers, but these acquaintances will appreciate it.

Offer to help people with chores.

You probably don’t have to do much digging around to find people with this need. If you don't know where to start, contact a local church to see if there are any parishioners that need help around the house. There are plenty people like single parents and the elderly that could use some assistance. You can also offer to run errands for people or offer to give them a ride to an appointment.

Help other parents.

Invite single mom’s kids to join your family for a craft day with snacks to give her a break. You can also host a cookie party and make cookies for church families or a new neighbor. Most of the time you can put your feelers out at daycare to help parents with children. Most certainly, most of them need a break. Maybe one morning before you go to work you can pick up a few gift cards from a donut shop for 5 dollars and leave it for parents when they pick up their children from daycare. You might find that you are also making friends fast as well!

Feed the hungry.

For those of us who can simply go to the grocery store and purchase food for our families, why not buy a little extra to donate to a local church pantry? Better yet, perhaps you and the family can anonymously leave a box of groceries and a meal on the doorstep. This is a powerful force of the kindness movement! You can also donate a bags of warm clothes with socks and shoes for the homeless. keep these in your car and switch it out during the change of the seasons so you always have these available when you meet people in need.

We don't know about you, but these are getting us pretty excited. Make Random Acts of Kindness Day something that is more than a day, make it a lifestyle.
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