Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite. It was originally published on November 24, 2013. Enjoy!
During a job interview a friend of mine was asked what the nicest thing she did that day was.
Her answer? She paid the turnpike toll for the car behind her that morning. Her interviewer was impressed. So was I.
Since then I’ve been thinking how I would answer that question. How would you answer that question? Could you?
To give you a little inspiration this holiday season, here are 10 random acts of kindness from strangers that will be sure to put a smile on your face and hopefully inspire you to pay it forward in your own way.
1. A Surprise Gift
What happens when a 9-year-old’s bicycle is stolen from school not one but two times?
In Atticus Seng’s case, his high school classmates raised $360 to buy him a brand new bike. Visiting classrooms door-to-door, a group of Fresno High School students in California collected small donations from other students to purchase a new bicycle for the young boy. They surprised Seng in his classroom to give him his new wheels.
Seng’s parents plan to pay the kind gesture forward by matching the cost of the bike and donating it to a local charity that provides bicycles to underprivileged children in the community.
2. Put it on My Tab
Imagine driving up to a fast food window to pay for your lunch only to find out that your bill had already been taken care of by the car in front of you.
Pretty sweet, right?
Check out this video by Give Back Films to see people’s reactions and the amazing thing that happened by the end of the day:
Give Back Films uploads a new video every week hoping that others will be inspired to pay it forward. I know what I’m doing the next time a fast food craving hits.
3. An Unlikely Guardian Angel
When Maryn Valliancourt sprained her ankle mid-run during her high school cross country race, she found support in the least likely of places – a runner on a competing team.
Kayla Samuel, a student from Achievement First Amistad High School, took Valliancourt’s arm and helped her finish the race. She even let her opponent cross the finish line before her.
“When I saw her I sort of felt that she shouldn’t have to go through that by herself,” said Samuel.
“She told me not to give up and to just keep going and that she wasn’t going to leave me. I just thought it was really nice,” said Valliancourt.
When we are constantly bombarded with tragic news stories of bullying and mean girl behavior, this story is a pleasant reminder that girls can be supportive on one another, a lesson we should be encouraging and celebrating.
4. After You
The next time I go on a trip I’m going to stay at a Hyatt.
I’ll show you why.
How amazing is that?
Holding doors open for people in 10 cities around the world wasn’t the only random act of kindness the hospitality giant has taken on. Throughout the whole month of October Hyatt employees have been celebrating kindness in many ways, from handing out fresh-squeezed juice in sunny Los Angeles to helping people keep their cell phones charged in fast-paced New York City.
5. Tears of Joy
For this single mom the last few years have been hard – a messy divorce, several moves, Asperger’s and ADHD diagnoses for her son.
Despite the hardships, Friday night dinners are a tradition she keeps faithfully.
On a Friday night dinner last month at Pizza Hut her kids were loud and acting up so she apologized to a fellow diner. He told her not to worry; he had three kids of his own and could relate.
When the young man left the Raleigh woman found out that the stranger had not only paid for her family’s dinner and left them a gift card, but he also wrote her a heartfelt note including the following:
I do not know your back story, but I have had the privilege of watching you parent your children for the past 30 minutes. I have to say thank you for parenting your children in such a loving manner.
I have watched you teach your children about the importance of respect, education, proper manners, communication, self control, and kindness all while being very patient. I will never cross your path again but am positive that you and your children have amazing futures.
Keep up the good work and when it starts to get tough do not forget that others may be watching and will need the encouragement of seeing a good family being raised. God bless! -Jake
The mother and waitress were filled with tears of joy. As you should be too now – amirite?
6. A Free Cup of Joe
It’s not every day you see a sign like this:
The man behind the sign and good deed is Dickon Johnstone from Aylesbury in the UK. From a distance Johnstone may have looked like a homeless man begging for money, but in an unexpected twist he really just wanted to make some people happy by giving them money for a coffee treat. In just 30 minutes he had given out 36 pounds and many smiles.
7. Dear Santa
What does 6-year-old Emmileah Anderson want for Christmas?
Nothing at all. Instead she wants Santa (or Father Christmas as they call him across the pond) to send her presents to children that don’t have any.
Her letter to Santa reads:
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Claus,
Thank you for putting me on the good list every year. I have decided that this year I don’t need any presents from you. Instead I am going to do a walk for charity. Please can you give my toys to the children that don’t have any.
Love Emmileah XXXXXX
Anderson will be doing a Santa Run for St. Catherine’s Hospice and is fundraising for the organization.
“I felt bad that other children didn’t have toys. I didn’t know that before… It’s not because I don’t want any presents. I just don’t really need them.”
8. Roadside Heroes
When Patricia Bender got a flat tire with her 22-month old granddaughter in the car she was told she would have to wait an hour for someone to come help. An hour would not do as she was hurrying home to meet the bus of her other 4-year-old granddaughter who is autistic.
Luckily, when a group of young men parked next to her heard the dilemma, they jumped at the chance to help her. Someone in the group even drove back home to go get his floor jack.
“I was stunned and overwhelmed by their caring and generosity,” Bender said.
This story reminded me of my jack of all trades brother-in-law who always stops to help fellow passengers on the road.
9. Rush Hour Present
Most mornings when I get to the subway there is a lovely man sitting with a guitar singing a little diddy which I call “Everybody have a nice day today” because that’s essentially what he sings over and over. Every time he is there, I instantly perk up and smile.
Almost as awesome, if you live in the UK you might find a sign like this in the London Underground:
Reading a sign like this on my commute to work would surely make my day, too.
10. Big Tipper
This random act of kindness put the biggest smile on my face and literally left me in tears.
Take a look for yourself:
You can learn how to pull this trick off yourself here. Use it this holiday season to treat a delivery man or woman who comes knocking on your door.
Have you come across any other random acts of kindness? Have you done one yourself or are you inspired to do one now? Please share with us in the comments below.