“When I was young, I admired clever people.
Now that I am old, I admire kind people.”
~ Abraham Joshua Heschel
What do you do when you pass a stranger on the street?  Do you smile and say hello, or do you keep your head down and keep on walking?
I think it depends on where you’ve come from. If you’re from a big city, you might not feel comfortable making eye contact. However, if you have lived here all your life or come from a smaller community, chances are you find it easier to strike up a conversation with a total stranger. And you never know, it might be the first kind gesture that stranger may have received all day. To me, that’s what kindness and community is all about.
In celebration of Kindness Week, and Random Acts of Kindness Day (today!) I am offering several ideas to help you perform some random acts of kindness towards a stranger, especially towards someone who is different from yourself. Here’s some ideas to get your going:
  • If you’re a gardener, take some fresh flowers to a nursing home.
  • Smile and say hi to the bank clerk, the grocery store cashier, the person walking their dog, the construction worker. You get the idea. It’s about just being more open and human.
  • Start a trend of “pay it forward” at the coffee drive-through.
  • Write a thank-you note to your letter carrier.
  • Offer to return someone’s grocery cart in the parking lot.
  • Let someone in ahead of you in the grocery store line.
  • Let someone else take the closer parking spot.
  • Buy a warm meal for a stranger in need.
  • Leave a great tip at a restaurant along with a note saying thanks for the service.
  • Take a basket of cookies or muffins to a new neighbour. Remember a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.  Take the time to meet them.
  • Sign up as a volunteer to deliver meals, pick up groceries or drive residents to their medical appointments.
  • Buy gift cards from a coffee shop or fast-food restaurant to give to people who are living on the street or in a shelter.
  • Give an unexpected compliment – “I really appreciate your great service today.” “You’re really great with your dog.” “Your garden looks beautiful.”  “That’s a great colour on you.” Make it respectful, genuine, and appropriate.
Never underestimate the power of kindness to change someone’s day and possibly their life. And remember to treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you. Not because they are nice, but because you are.
With our kind and grateful hearts,
Susanna Newton
SOS Executive Director