A few years ago my husband came up with the idea to hand out gifts cards to strangers throughout the holiday season to help our kids learn about the giving spirit of the season and just to spread a little extra joy and cheer to people. We quickly grabbed a Christmas stocking, stopped at a few stores for gifts cards, and threw them in the stocking. We decided to grab gift cards with a wide range of prices, just to let fate take a part in the handing out of cards.
The first recipient was a couple of firefighters we saw taking a break in a parking lot. Who is more deserving than them?! When we explained what we were doing, they were so genuinely grateful and touched, that we were inspired to go get more to hand out. The first person that reached in and grabbed one of the larger gift cards was so in shock and confused, that they tried to give it back to us. We explained that they grabbed it, fate gave it to them, and the rules were that they had to keep whatever they grabbed. Of course, they are always welcome to do with it whatever they want... but that was their gift card now.
I often have had to fight off tears when I see the complete shock and gratitude in people's faces as we approached them and told them what we were doing. They were shocked that we would just give them something just because. But then I would look at my daughters and see their faces beaming with joy to bringing this kindness and cheer to people's lives and my heart was so full. This was it! This was them really learning about the spirit of giving!
We learned to look for those people who we knew might really would benefit from it. People who need their spirits lifted or people who might be making some sacrifices during the holiday season. Perhaps someone who was really working their tail off this time of year, outside and in the cold. We gave them to people sweeping parking lots, construction workers, AT&T repair men, mail men and women, and policemen, to mention a few.
But it doesn't take a bunch of expensive gifts cards. Just one kind act to a stranger made a huge difference in their lives. And kindness is contagious. Doing an act of kindness for someone leads to more acts of kindness, not just by the recipient, but by anyone who observes the act of kindness. Its spreads outwards and kindness multiplies.
Since we started this, we have seen it spread to other families and even businesses that do this now! Think about the impact that one simple act can have and all the people it can reach! Think about that the next time you see someone who might need a little cheer in their lives. Think about how your one act can lead to many many more. YOU can make a big difference with a simple, small act of kindness.