With the unthinkable tragedy that occurred on December 14, Walker and I woke up on December 15 with the desire to not only think about a better world but actively work toward it. We decided to devote our Saturday to 15 random acts of kindness around Lufkin and beyond. There was no better day than Dec. 15 to start living intentionally.
Most years, Walker and I exchange a Christmas present where he donates to a charity in my name and I donate in his name. One year he bought goats and chickens for a family in Chile on my behalf, and I donated to the Special Olympics on his behalf. We decided to do it a little differently this year and use this budgeted money for our acts of kindness.
In no way do these actions even begin to touch on the grief that we are experiencing from the Connecticut shooting, but our hope was to bring just a small amount of joy to another person’s day. Here is what we did, and our thoughts are at the end of the post.
1. Having accumulated a ridiculous amount of Starbucks gift cards from our wedding, we decided this was the perfect time for us non-coffee drinkers to gift some free drinks to unsuspecting strangers. We walked inside, asked each person in line if they would like a gift card, and walked out. I think they thought we were trying to hand them gift cards laced in cocaine, because while some were reluctant, others seemed downright horrified.
2. We put together a Christmas care package for our friend who recently moved overseas to tell about and live the gospel.
3. We bought some of our needed items for the day in Walmart including a $20 gift card to Walmart. After checking out, we handed the gift card to a lady buying baby clothes. I’m not sure she was more shocked at the free money (she just couldn’t understand why I was giving it to her), or the fact that a little blonde girl was speaking to her in Spanish.
4. We donated a new toy to Toys for Tots that was being manned by former Marines in the Walmart parking lot.
5. Dec.15 is also the day that my Big Daddy died 20 years ago from melanoma. In his honor, we wrote a letter of appreciation to a beyond deserving lady who has carried on his legacy. Her name is Jane, and she is my grandmother. It’ll be postmarked and coming your way on Monday, Grandmother!
6. This week we plan on going to visit someone at the nursing home, so we wrote him or her a Christmas card we will take with us.
7. Having a few extra gift cards to Chili’s that we ourselves have received out of kindness, we walked in, found a table with a family of kids, and handed them a gift card to help pay for their meal. At first they coldly rejected the offer, because they thought we were trying to sell them something, but after some explaining they accepted.
8. Our new friend, Danielle, recently moved to Lufkin, and if we know anything, it is that moving can be one tough experience. We originally wanted to invite her along for the fun, but she was working all day on a Saturday, so we took Opal to visit her along with some chocolate covered pretzels. Lucky for us, we got a tour of her yet to be opened work place, and we got to meet two other young people, which is always a treat here in Lufkin!
9. We wrote a Christmas card to our trash collectors, and on Tuesday morning we will place the card and donuts on our trashcan expressing our appreciation.
10. We baked cookies for our neighbor who we haven’t really gotten to know over the past year. We always have casual fence conversation, but we wanted to show him he matters to us.
11. We taped $5 worth of quarters to a washer at a laundromat. Opal was also a big hit here, as a family with three little boys just couldn’t get enough of her!
12. After reading this article, I knew we had to do something for a McDonald’s employee, so we wrote a Christmas card and enclosed a $10 gift card to Chili’s (told you we had a lot of these). We handed it to the drive through worker as we drove off with a small coke.
13. We taped a bag of popcorn and a dollar to a RedBox telling the next customer to enjoy a free movie and snack on us. We may or may not have waited around to see who took it!
14. We placed cards of encouragement on two cars in the H.E.B. parking lot. They probably look sketchy as we had to wrap them in saran wrap due to the rain.
15. We wrote a letter to a soldier telling him of our appreciation for not only him but his family as well.
And at the end of the day, these two little elves were exhausted!
Walker and I love to give, but we love to do it anonymously. We aren’t so big on putting our faces with the gift. In fact, both of us get super nervous when having to talk to strangers. Walker doesn’t even like to ask for more ketchup at Chick-fil-A. Yesterday, our hearts were pounding as we walked into that Starbucks, but that was part of our plan. Our hope was to go outside of our comfort zone so that maybe in later days our random acts will not take so much courage. Maybe showing extraordinary kindness will just become a way of life. Maybe by practicing we can reduce our fear, and instead of not doing something nice for somebody in worry of being offensive, we will just do it naturally.
We worried about blogging this adventure, because we know some people will think we are trying to receive praise and credit, but for us this is uncomfortable. We decided to document it in hopes of encouraging others to do it. Yesterday we recognized how easy it can be to do something nice for a friend or stranger even on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to cost any money or take much time at all, so let’s all start doing one intentional act of kindness each day. Send a nice text, smile at a stranger, leave a thank you letter for your mailman. If you’re having trouble being creative, check here and here for tons of ideas!
Yesterday served as a rude awakening of how out of the ordinary kindness is these days. The reaction of people being shocked and scared of a good deed speaks volumes about our culture. We seem to give with more cheer around Christmas time, but Jesus was born in a manger so that every day would serve as an opportunity for love and reconciliation. God came to earth for us, may we wake up each day and be for other people. And as we wrote in our ‘Hey, Stranger!’ letters, we love because HE first loved us.