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Our 27 Acts of Kindness

Heading into the holidays of 2012 was a bit rough for most people I know. The tragedy in Newtown was and continues to be unimaginable - a bad dream that is now our reality. I felt helpless, lost and deeply saddened for the families and for our country. Ann Curry from NBC has inspired a nation to be kind, give back and cherish everyday - something that it is easy to lose sight of sometimes. In discussing the 26 random acts of kindness with, we realized that the actual number of people lost that day was 27: 20 children, 6 teachers, and the shooter's mother.

I decided to reach out to the LIVESTRONG.COM Team, friends and family in hopes they would all participate in 27 Acts of Kindness. I know that doing for others is an amazing way to heal ourselves and heal others – doing something, anything, for someone else is a true gift. The response has been unbelievable. I've documented our 27 Acts of Kindness in the list below. If you’ve joined in this gesture over the holidays, leave me a comment at the bottom of this article; I would love to hear from you.

27 ACTS OF KINDNESS  (The number in front of the act is the total number of people who participated.)

1 - After Christmas we were driving down the PCH to go hike in the redwoods around Santa Cruz. It was forecast to be pretty cold so I was wearing a big coat ready for the hike. We stopped at a roadside stand to buy some fruit, and there near the ocean the wind was really whipping in and there was this boy maybe sixteen or so manning the fruit stand. He was only wearing a sweatshirt, and he was shivering. His shoulders were hunched up and arms crossed over his chest to keep warm. Who knows how many hours left in his shift? So, of course, I knew what I had to do. I took off my coat, told him what we were doing in memory of Newtown, and gave it to him. He was a little bewildered at first, but said thank you, and put it on. As we were getting back into the car he looked over at us, and broke out in this big smile. I’ll never forget seeing him all warm and smiling as we drove away. Oh, and of course weather the next day was much nicer than forecast and we had a great hike through the old growth in Big Basin.

1 - There was a woman with a walker maybe middle aged who was outside a Ralph's grocery store asking for a dollar. I offered and gave her the Pannetone bread that I was carrying already. She asked if I could help her buy a packet of pull up Pampers diapers 2T size. Another lady came by and discouraged me from buying the diapers saying that she had seen this lady counting money. But I disregarded that advice thinking I would do what my heart told me to do and this was just a $12.00 diaper pack! If this woman with the walker was someone trying to scam innocent shoppers during the holiday goodwill season then it is her conscience she has to deal with

3 - I paid for the coffee for the person behind me at the Starbucks drive-thru / or in line at a coffee shop.

1 - I paid the adoption fee for an elderly dog at the kill shelter in my hometown.

1 - Visiting the retirement in my hometown where I used to volunteer, I spent a couple hours talking to some lonely elderly residents, just listening and letting them talk about their lives, tell stories (real or imaginary). While the holidays are so much fun for many, they can also be the most lonely and depressing time for so many. It’s amazing what a little time and personal touch can do.

1 - I peeled an orange for an elderly woman.

1 - My wife is going on the board, and I’m making a substantial investment to a new charity that helps women cope with expenses tied to having breast cancer.

1 - I was in the mall looking for a passport cover for my mom. I walked into the first store and a young twentysomething guy, looking totally clueless was looking at passport covers too. We both didn’t like the one in that particular store. He asked where he should go, so I gave him a whole list. I went one way, and he went the other. I bumped into him once, and told him my findings so far. Finally, I found a great passport cover at a store I hadn't mentioned to him. So, I ran back to Bloomingdale’s (which was a bit out of my way), and found him about to buy a passport cover. I showed him mine, and he liked it more than the one he was about to purchase. Consequently, he headed to that other store to purchase the exact same one that I had purchased.

1 - When asked for money from homeless people hanging out side of my local 7-Eleven and Rite Aid, I tell them I have no cash but I offer to buy them dinner.  The smiles and thanks I have received in return are priceless.

1 - I’m volunteering this year to take high school kids out onto the Newport Bay Ecological Reserve to learn about the ecology of the bay, particularly the birds.  These kids are typically from low-income areas, and most have never seen a wetland.  These are huge, 6-person canoes strapped together catamaran style and my job is to both steer and be a docent for the kids. Teaching these kids about the estuary along with the responsibilities and consequences of urban living in a watershed is something I’ve really enjoyed and am now resolved to continue doing as much as I can in the coming year.  There is nothing more peaceful than being out on the water among nature; nothing more gratifying than connecting with a kid who might him-or-herself someday become a steward to the wild.

1 - I was purchasing pet food at Petco. A guy was standing outside in the cold with his dog, and he had a sign asking if someone could help him out with some food for the dog. I NEVER have cash on me, but I had just stopped at the bank and had withdrawn $20 to do my laundry later. I pulled out my $20, and gave it to the guy. His eyes welled up and he couldn’t stop thanking me, telling me that I just made his whole day worth it.

1 - I have a friend without a home and job right now. We’re setting him up to live in a temporary home over the holidays.

1 - I met someone flying my exact route home to Los Angeles. We had to switch planes on our connecting flights, and as luck would have it, I was able to board the plane first. I saved her a spot, on the aisle.

1 - I was the recipient of someone else's Act of Kindness: I found a candy cane hanging on the door handle to my car yesterday. There was a note that said that I was #6. Pretty cool. I plan to pay it forward.

2 - I paid it forward by adopting two families for Christmas. I provided them with dinner, gifts and decorations. The smiles and joy were and still are palpable to me.

2 - Smile. Really, smile. At everyone. Try for one day to smile at EVERY person you make eye contact with. The person walking down the street yelling on his cell phone, the person you buy your coffee from, every co-worker even if you don’t know his or her name. Even if they have a frown on I promise you, you will make them feel better. And, even better you will make YOU feel better. Smile away.

1 - I called ahead before heading to get my hair cut to see how many people were in the salon. I brought hot coffee and fresh bagels for all.

3 - I paid $20 toward the groceries of the person standing behind me at the supermarket.

1 - I helped an elderly gentleman return his shopping cart to the return bin at the grocery store.

1 - Restoring our 1923 vintage home, we needed to replace two large wood-framed windows that had been damaged by weather. On the advice of our painter, I hired a local father and son team who were confident they could match the old windows. Their price and timeline were very competitive with otherwise placing a special order through a well-known window factory that had made the original windows. Although the two carpenters delivered the windows a few days later than expected, the craftsmanship was amazing--stronger wood and thicker glass than the factory-built originals. (Now having worked in the construction field to support myself through college, I am well aware of the time, effort and attention to detail needed to build a product that customers will use and enjoy every day.) After the windows were installed, I paid them 1/3 more than their price to cover the additional time they devoted to the job.

1 - I walked a co-worker's dog for him while he had meetings. While this was kind for them, it was even better for me. Dogs are so amazing . Being able to bring them to work makes every day that much better.

I plan on keeping this practice going – I certainly should not need a tragedy to motivate me to be kind to others.


Susy Sedano is one of the Content Managers at LIVESTRONG.COM, and a fitness enthusiast searching for a fun way to integrate food and exercise into a healthy living plan. She is always looking for new challenges, running a half marathon, practicing more yoga, or creating healthy dishes for family and friends. Despite her hectic non-stop fitness schedule, she is a "girl's girl" and a student of life!

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