It shouldn't take a senseless tragedy for all of us to be kind to each other, but when there is a massive outpouring of love, it's a beautiful thing.
That's why I've been following the 26 Acts of Kindness that is taking root in many communities as a way of honoring those who died in Newtown, Conn.
Anne Curry of NBC News tweeted about it, and the idea has gone viral in many communities.
She asked why not commit to doing one act of kindness for each of the 20 children and 6 adults who were killed there. It started with donations to the town. But there is only so much stuff that you can send, so I like the Facebook pages that are springing up around the country where people are posting the random acts of kindness they are doing to give away the hope and love in their hearts.
The acts are inspiring and they don't have to cost money. After all, this is Christmas and many of us have given to our favorite charities and people in need.
No, these acts are small.
Like Bethany Ballard @BethanyBallard, who left small notes on strangers' cars and tweeted “18 cards signed, sealed delivered. 2 down, 24 to go.”
Or Nikki Snyder @Nik_DuBs who racked up a gas pump with $10 for the next person to use.
Or how about saying something nice to someone in a sour mood like Pierce Apposite@PointedApt who tweeted “Complimented the shoes of a scowling man lost in thought. His smile lasted another 10 minutes. #26Acts #20Acts.”
Or you can do something surprising like Erin Donovan@erronious who tweeted “26 umbrellas. #26acts lots of surprised folks in Knoxville. @wbir //via.me/-7zzluza.”
Or a simple kindness like Shanta Thomas@meant4something “100% tip. Not much, but it's something. I hope they pay it forward all the same. #26actsofkindness #20acts.”
I'm struck by the sheer inventiveness of these acts, and the pleasure they give to individuals who receive them.
I've thought a lot about what I will do over the next few weeks as I come up with my own list of 26 Acts, and here's a few ideas:
1. Buy a box of 26 hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts and give them to the first people I see.
2. Give away $26 to random people, one dollar at a time, no note attached.
3. Take 26 balloons to a pre-school class just to see the smiles on the children's faces.
4. Tell one person a day for 26 days how much I appreciate what they do for me. (After that, another 26 days and another ...)
If you want to let the world know what your 26 Acts are, then add them to the Twitter universe with the hashtag #26acts or #26actsofkindness. But if you prefer to keep them in your heart, just write a list of the names of all the ones who died, and highlight the list every time you honor a name.
They will be engraved in your heart forever.
Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557 or firstname.lastname@example.org.