Last weekend we set out on a Birthday Acts of Kindness Adventure.
In honor of my friend’s (“ahem”) 30th Birthday (she always adds the “ahem”), she decided she wanted to do 30 Acts of Kindness. She asked me if I would help her and asked another of our mutual friends to join us. We set the date and began planning.
Gina came up with her list of ideas first, then we got together and fine tuned it, deciding who was going to buy what and making a list of preparations.
Jessica made up these signs for us to post, with a banner at the top that said “Kindness Matters.” She made them all sizes with a variety of messages, so we could use them in a variety of ways throughout the day. We put some of the larger ones on sticks and planted them in parks and on street corners.
Here are my three tips when planning an adventure to celebrate a birthday:
(1) Try to have the day reflect the person’s life (people they love, things they like to do, places they like to go), (2) try to absorb some or most of the cost for the birthday girl or boy and (3) save some surprises for the person you’re celebrating. In Gina’s case, she is a grateful girl (counted 1000 Gifts in her life in less than six months!)who was perfectly willing to pay it forward to bless others. Still, in the planning stages, we went through all the things I have used on previous “Adventures” and used whatever we could for that day. Jess also donated quarters and McDonald’s gift certificates and made the signs for her.
On Friday, Gina delivered diapers and wipes to the Pregnancy Service Center, and took cards and gifts to some of her closest friends.
On Saturday, since it was Gina’s birthday celebration, there was only one way for the day to start… with coffee. Here’s the fun fact about this coffee run… I had been given a $15 gift certificate from someone else who had received it. So from the very beginning, we were using money that someone else had paid it forward with. Gotta love that!
Before picking the birthday girl up, I had gone to our supermarket and bought a dozen donuts. The thought was to give them to the construction crew building the Taco Bell next to the Starbucks. However, being Saturday, there was no construction crew there. Getting rid of those donuts was one of the very last things we ended up doing that day! [In other words, not everything goes according to plan.]
Some of the other things we did that day was put quarters in the grocery carts at Aldi’s.
Plant dollars for children to find at the Dollar Tree.
Put small gifts in tubes at drive through banks and pharmacies. Can I just tell on ourselves here? With all the planning and preparation, we embarked on our day with great joy and anticipation! At the first bank we drove into, there were no other cars and so we went to the lane closest to the window so we could see how many gifts we would need for the tellers. We got them ready and then sat and waited. We started laughing because we were the only ones there and all we wanted to do was give them stuff and no one would wait on us. We waited some more but grew impatient. Then we started laughing at ourselves for getting so impatient when our goal was to be kind. Finally, they extended the drawer and we were able to leave our gifts! The following picture was taken at a different bank, where we were waited on right away and the girls were excited to get their stuff!
Here is something we really had fun with. Gina made these little treat bottles from 8 oz. water bottles. She decorated them and then we hung from the trees at the park. They looked so cute that we wished we would have had more of them! This is definitely an idea I will use when doing group adventures in the future!
At the same park, we decorated the playground with 30 colorful pencils and Dum-Dum suckers.
We went to the laundromat and left laundry detergent and magazines. We also handed out individual packs of Oreos (with 8 cookies per pack) and taped quarters to the vending machine. One guy asked us if we were the “Hospitality Committee.” We took it as a compliment!
We left 75 cents on the air pumps at two different gas stations.
She took flowers to her grandma, and decided to spontaneously bless a couple of other friends that lived on that same street. Since it wasn’t in the plan, they got some random gifts indeed! Don’t you just love that smiley face?
We went to the YMCA (one of the places Gina is disciplined enough to visit several times a week) and put window message cards on all the cars. On the outside they said “Practice Kindness” and when you open the perforated ‘window’ there is an inspiring and encouraging message. There just happened to be 30 in a pack!
Gina took a gift to her sister at work and then we went on to deliver ten envelopes with a dollar each to Sonic during their “Happy Hour.” (Sonic is another of Gina’s favorite places!)
One of the things we had the most fun doing was putting encouraging notes into library books. We went to various sections in the non-fiction area, and found books for people dealing with a variety of life’s challenges. We had printed out encouraging notes and quotes and also had a pack of notes with the theme “Never Quit.” We scoured the shelves for titles to try to match up with the messages we wanted to leave. We also put notes inside some of our favorite books. Along the way, we found some book titles that really made us laugh. Of course we would want to laugh uncontrollably in the place we were supposed to be the quietest!
And remember the smiley face and gift bag we left spontaneously at one of our friend’s houses? When we arrived at the library, we saw her car there so we put a smiley face on it as well. We took great delight in thinking about her finding that on her car and then going home and finding one on her door, along with her random gifts. (It really is the little things, isn’t it? Honestly, you would have thought we were kids!)
The McDonalds guy really made us laugh. We told him we wanted to pay for the person behind us. He said, “Why?” We told him it was fun and explained a little bit about Acts of Kindness. He started out skeptical but ended up posing for the ‘paparazzi’ (that’s what he called us when he saw Jessica in the back seat taking pictures)!
Oh and remember the box of donuts? We ended up delivering them to one of the firehouses.
We left goodie bags hidden in the train in Oakdale Park, left toiletries and hand sanitizer in public bathrooms and left a McDonald’s gift card at a gas station for someone to find.
As always, they were all seemingly ‘little’ things. We didn’t change anybody’s life. We are convinced that we probably had much more fun giving, than anyone did receiving. Ann Voskamp, one of our mentors, talks about giving thanks and living this one life well. I have watched the difference giving thanks has made in Gina’s life. She truly is living her one life well. We rejoiced in the gift that Gina is to so many who know her. We delighted in the love and hope and refreshing that spending a day with good friends can bring to our lives, and we laughed… a lot! I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a life!
Finding Joy in Giving With You,