Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness

I woke up on Monday morning thinking about today's post about doing a Random Act of Kindness (RAK). I looked up on the internet "random act of kindness" and came across a man who is doing one RAK per day during 2012. His efforts are very inspiring.

One of his RAK was to write to a prisoner through the Write a Prisoner program. I had never heard of the program, and was curious to read about it.

Profiles of prisoners, photos, and contact information are posted for the public to look at and read. Viewers (the public), then select which prisoners they would like to correspond with, after viewing all of the personal (e.g., interests, goals) and public (e.g., crime, release date) information. 

Research shows that inmates who establish and maintain positive contacts outside of prison walls are:
- less likely to return to prison.
- less likely to return to crime.
- less likely to return to substance abuse.
- more likely to find employment.
- more likely to remain productive members of society.

Although I didn't do that for a RAK today, I thought it was worth sharing since it seems to be a mutually-beneficial program for the prisoners as well as the people who are writing to them.

Instead of writing to a prisoner, on Monday I saw a man struggling to carry a heavy case of water bottles in 90+ degree heat and 65% humidity. As he was walking, a water bottle dropped out of the case. He was trying to figure out where to put the case down, when I picked the bottle up for him. It didn't seem like a big thing to do. However, the look of surprise and gratitude on this gentleman's face was worth the couple of seconds it took to pick up the bottle.

Although the items below are not RAK, they are along the same line of being kind and helpful to another person. In this case, my Mom. Since she knows me (obviously), they aren't very random acts.

During the six hours I spent helping my Mom on Monday, I did a variety of things that she needed assistance with:
- going to Fare for All to get some produce and frozen food to stretch her budget; and then unloading the food and putting it away.

- walking down the stairs in her home (since she doesn't feel comfortable yet doing that because of mobility issues) so I could check on each room downstairs.
- writing down the items she had canned (e.g., jam, tomatoes, peaches) so she knew what she has on hand.
- helping her go through items that had belonged to my Dad to determine who would most appreciate the items, if they should be donated, or simply thrown away.
- fixing her radio.
- putting bark chips down in the rose garden and clipping each of the rose hips off the rose bushes so that they will bloom again.
- bringing in fragrant, purple flowers and three hosta leaves, and put them in a vase for her to enjoy.
- cleaning an area in the garage.
- cutting back one of the bushes for easier access to the backyard.
- cleaning garbage from the storage room.
- flushing the water out of the pipes for a downstairs sink and toilet so they didn't have rust in them.
- getting foaming hand soap that the personal care assistant and home health aides requested.
- moving three chairs, a sofa, and two end tables back in place.
- addressing envelopes and writing down what she said for letters/cards that she wanted to send to seven friends and family members.

The last item, in particular, was especially meaningful to my Mom. She has been wanting to write thank you notes and send birthday cards for a long time now. This was a huge relief for her to have this done. I think she's also excited that people will be receiving cards that they don't expect, and she hopes that it brightens their days as much as they have brightened hers.

When I returned home, there were four boxes filled with books for the African Library Project. (Sophia, Olivia, and I are collecting books to create a library at a primary school in Lesotho, Africa. The school does not have a library or very many books right now for use in the classrooms. Our goal is to collect 1,000 books by the end of September.)

What was incredibly touching; and such a positive and powerful lesson in generosity for Sophia and Olivia to see was that the books came with only a return city, state, and zip code...no name telling us who sent the books. Going through the boxes filled with 274 books, we found no letter or note from the sender.

This was a Random Act of Kindness in its truest form.

I cannot thank this person personally for her/his generosity and thoughtfulness. Hopefully s/he knows that the children in Africa will be extraordinarily grateful to be able to learn to read and enjoy having such a wide variety of good books from which to choose.


Domestically Seasoned said...

WOW, RAK is such a powerful gift to give to others. Your girls are experiencing this first hand. I love your stories of generosity and kindness.

Sara said...

Wow. That's a heck of a lot of books!

It's little things like letter writing or book giving or all of the things you did for your mom that help keep the faith that there are good people in the world who do not have underhanded reasons for doing things.

Patty A said...

What a great post. I'm really enjoying reading all the RAK, very inspiring.

Julie Jordan Scott said...

How lovely this post is... and I am grateful for that information about writing to a prisoner. I used to love having pen pals so why not write to a prisoner?

I think I will.

I will randomly (sort of) choose a new friend to write to who is in jail. After all, aren't we all in some form of jail or another?

My random act of kindness post.

Lisa Marie Fletcher said...

Thanks for sharing the blog of the guy who is doing a RAK everyday of the year - that's amazing!

And, RAKs don't have to be big things. Even the little things like picking up runaway water bottles are perfect! It's all about helping.