Last year for Scott’s 28th birthday I decided to do a Random-Acts-of-Kindness (raok) day. Instead of feeling the pressure of buying him a gift that he neither wants nor needs, I decided to let him give. I was beyond inspired by “the birthday project“. I watched the video from the website and knew that it was something I had to do. Watch it for yourself–you’ll see!
What I Bought:
- 2 movie ticket vouchers
- 2 giftcards for coffee
- (Scott decided to stick around & buy coffees 1-by-1: I gave him the choice)
- Bouquet of flowers
- Bundle of Balloons
How to Prepare:
- Buy the things you wish to give
- Setup donation appointment (blood donations usually prefer appts.)
- Research a cause (Making Strides, Relay for Life, Walk for Alzheimers, AIDs, etc. Anything you can do together)-
- Check charitynavigator.com for good charity research.
- Write your list on paper (something you can bring along with you–ours rolled up)
- Map the addresses of places you will go that day (calculate travel time if need-be)
- Buy someone a coffee
- Pay a portion, or all of someone’s grocery bill
- Donate to your favorite charity
- Bake cookies for your neighbor or friend
- Ding-dong-ditch something nice on someones doorstep
- Pay someones toll
- Buy someone’s gas
- Send a care package to a soldier
- Send a care pkg to a new parent
- Leave extra time at the parking meter
- Drop quarters or dollars on the sidewalk for someone to find
- Leave $1’s in the toy bin at the dollar store (or elsewhere)
- Leave something nice for a receptionist who you see often
- Leave quarters at the laundromat
- Buy your friend that one thing they repeatedly talk about
- Leave Popcorn packet with a note on Redbox
Free (or almost) Ideas:
- Volunteer at Food Bank, Pantry, Ronald McDonald House, etc.
- Put away shopping carts at the market
- Help someone carry their groceries or load their car
- Donate Blood
- Compliment a stranger
- Hold the door
- Send a letter/postcard to a friend or relative
- Donate unwanted or unworn clothes (have you worn it in the last yr?)
- Write a well deserved review for a company
- Smile at strangers
…And the list goes on, and on, and on.
Here was my take on RAOK day…
I sent Scott this email pre-outting.
Then, I gave him his “giving list.”
Our First Stop:
Making Strides (Breast Cancer Awareness Walk).
Our Second Stop:
Biggby Coffee…Unfortunately Biggby was suuuuuper slow that day (that’s because no one knew we’d be buying them free coffees!) So we waited, and waited to buy people coffees. We even bought one guys breakfast!
This gave us time to continue planning the day and check off what we’d accomplished.
What a good feeling! Check!
Our Third Stop:
Ann Arbor Farmers Market.
I let him park the car while I ran to get balloons at the local florist. We then, ironically enough, went to the farmers market to buy the flowers we needed. We knew the farmer’s market would be full of people!
Warning: Some people find it strange that a sweet, handsome 20 something yr. old guy would be giving their child a balloon. I get it…maybe it seems sketchy. But it was such a harmless act of kindness, and one that truly shouldn’t have had people feeling uneasy. Maybe next time he should have a sign on him that says, “It’s my birthday and I’m doing random acts of kindness.” This way people will be accepting of his gesture. This part was a challenge, and a challenge ACCEPTED! Honestly, I was kind of nervous for him! It was a difficult one, but fun at that. He did it and that’s what matters. He made those kid smile!
After handing out the balloons and flowers, we stopped to get a few things at the store just outside the farmer’s market. We had a really great experience with the cashier. We were so blown away by her kindness and genuine care at the checkout counter that, after we had already left the shop, we decided to walk back and give her the pair of movie tickets that we had purchased. She was incredibly appreciative of our gesture. She couldn’t stop smiling and neither could we!
Along the way:
This is when we found the fun postcards to send to people, picked up our share of trash, held doors, etc. Common courtesies go a long way, at least for me. I always appreciate when someone holds the door for me.
Our Fourth Stop:
Red Cross Blood Donation Center.
I knew this was something Scott would be pleased with. His grandpa used to donate so much blood that I can’t keep track. It was something he was very proud of, and rightfully so.
We had been to Quito, Ecuador within the year. Unfortunately, this meant that he was not a liable candidate for a blood donation at that time. So… we left. But we tried! — and there’s always this year!
We also posted our Uncle Frank’s “Colander” for people who wished to donate. The Colander is a calendar with photos and bios of those who have survived colon cancer and want to share their story. Frank is a survivor and spitfire. This is the link for you to read his bio and see what it’s about. It’s pretty fantastic.
I’m sure I’m missing a few things in here. We were trying to enjoy the moment by taking less photos. Hopefully this guide inspires you to do something similar. But per usual, I encourage you to make it your own!
“When you see a person without a smile
give them yours help them find it.”
PS- After drafting this post I took Nessa out for a stroll around the block. I stumbled upon a small wad of one dollar bills and thought how perfectly timed that was. Don’t worry, if it were $20’s or $100’s I would be trying to search for their rightful “owner”. But now I get to re-gift those ones for the next RAOK bday! Right on 🙂