When we think about volunteering and serving others, we often assume that we must invest a lot of time and money. This assumption could keep us from getting involved in our community and help others in need. Do we really need to give up all of our time and money to positively impact others? The answer is no. You do not need to be rich like Bill Gates. You do not need to give up your life to volunteer. Giving just a few minutes and maybe a few dollars can make a difference. Small actions of any kind can make a big difference in the lives of those you meet. We engage with many people everyday and each instance is an opportunity to create a positive experience. We do not plan these interactions as most just happen. We also don’t plan our attitude and behavior as we enter these interactions. A focus on creating positive moments while engaging with others can lead to amazing things. We witnessed it first hand this week.
The week of February 13th was labeled as Random Acts of Kindness Week. A week dedicated to performing random acts of kindness for others around us. We participated in an effort to see if these random acts of caring can truly create positive moments. Our goal was to take some time each day to engage with others through some spontaneous acts of kindness. We wanted to surprise others with simple gestures of love. We wanted to see how people would react. We wanted to see if real impact could be had, on them and on us. We were inspired by the results.
Day One– During my daily visit to the gas station, I decided to pay for a few strangers’ items. After completing my transaction, I stood to the side as an older couple placed 2 coffees onto the counter. As the cashier gave them the total, I stepped forward with my money. I informed the cashier I wanted to pay. The couple looked at me with a puzzled glare. They were trying to figure me out. It was almost like I had three eyes and four arms. They didn’t know what to think. The only word that came from their mouth was “what?”. I informed them that I wanted to treat them to the coffee and pay for the people behind them as well. A smile came over everyone’s face, including the two adults and their son who were next in line. They placed their coffee, 2 sodas, and bag of candy on the counter with the two other coffees. All were very gracious and told me thanks on multiple occasions. We walked out together like we had known each other for a while. I wished them well and walked to my car. As I sat in my car overwhelmed with the feeling of good that had consumed me, the older couple approached my window. I rolled down my window and was told, “you sir, are an angel. Thank you for caring about us and others.” It is a moment that I will never forget. My investment: $8.00, 10 minutes.
Day Two– While in the drive-thru of the local McDonald’s, I decided that I would try to bring a smile to the face of those serving me. The first window opened and I greeted the young man with a boisterous “Hello! How are you?” He responded by asking me how I was. There was obviously only one answer. I was “Outstanding!” He smiled and said “Wow! That is awesome! Some day I will be that good.” Mission one accomplished. I pulled forward and a great song played on the radio. As the second window opened, I belted out my rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”. A smile and a laugh instantly came to the face of the woman serving my drink. I believe that this may be the first time in history that my singing brought a smile to someone’s face. She handed me my drink and said, “thank you! I needed that today.” Mission two accomplished. My investment: $0.00, 5 minutes
Day Three– I took some time to sit down to write a few handwritten thank you notes for teammates and employees. I put these notes in the mail so that each individual would receive it at home. It is hard to gauge the impact, if any, that these notes had on the team. A few days after writing them, I received two follow-up emails and calls thanking me for the kind words. My investment: $4.50, 30 minutes
Day Four– I bought a dozen doughnuts and gave them to the construction workers who were gassing up their vehicles in the parking lot. I walked up to them and said, “thanks for what you all do. Enjoy some doughnuts on me this morning.” The response from these three gentleman was once again something I will always remember. It seemed that they couldn’t believe that I would take time to do that for them. One man was very concerned about paying me for them. Little did he know, the smile on his face was payment enough. My investment: $9.16, 10 minutes
Day Five– I spent some time with one of my employees who has been facing many challenges in his personal life. We sat down and talked. He shared with me his story while we shared emotions together. I emphasised to him that his family was most important and that he would always have my support. I expressed my gratitude for his continued effort and commitment to his job. I thanked him for all that he does for our team and made sure he knew he was valued. He called me later in the day to thank me for taking time out of my busy schedule to meet with him. I learned afterwards that he called his supervisor to tell her how amazing our time was together. My investment: $0.00, 2 hours
Day Six– I gave a few Diet Coke coupons to a bank teller while at the bank. She was very excited because in her words “she was addicted to Diet Coke.” I guess sometimes you get lucky. I did in this instance. The smile on her face and the inflection in her voice was proof of that. My investment: $2.00, 5 minutes
Day Seven– I focused on opening doors for others during the day. Five or six times I opened and held the door for others. A very simple task. On elderly lady told me that there should be more “gentlemen” like me in the world. That little gesture created that short statement. A statement that made me feel great. My investment: $0.00, 10 minutes
In one week, I focused on simple, random acts of kindness. Erica and the girls performed many as well. We wanted to see if these small gestures could really make a difference. The response to those we interacted with was greater than we expected. Proof once again that little moments can create big magic. We had a great time participating in Random Acts of Kindness Week. Each experience generated a different emotion and sense of well-being. The week was also proof that you do not need a lot of money or time to make a difference in this world. My total investment over seven days was $23.66 and about 3 hours of my time. A small investment that affected many people. The next time you think that you do not have the time or money to help others in your community, I hope you remember this post. Performing random acts of kindness in our every day lives can, and will, make a difference!