Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Manner of Giving is Worth More Than the Gift

29 Random Acts of Kindness for My 29th Birthday

Typically when my birthday comes around, I'm the first one to plan a huge bash for myself, buy myself a brand new outfit, and take advantage of the entire month of May by using my birthday as an excuse to do whatever I wanted...and more importantly, EAT whatever I wanted.
Raw cookie dough for breakfast? It's my birth month, you can't judge me.

For my birthday this year, I decided to do something a little different.

I love seeing people smile. Even more so, I love being the reason people are smiling. 
I've come to realize that making people happy is one of my core missions as a human being.
I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday this year than to act on that! 
So, I completed 29 Random Acts of Kindness for my 29th birthday!

Here's a list of everything I did: 

 1. I Volunteered at Habitat for Humanity
Not only did they trust me with a caulking gun, but they trusted me to climb a ladder and caulk the soffit on the roof. I was so excited for this job that I may or may not have mentioned to them that I am the biggest klutz in the world and tend to be accident-prone.

 Luckily I finished without any incidents. 
I am, however, still finding caulking underneath my fingernails. 

2. I Crashed a Baby Registry
I jumped on the Babies R Us website, searched the registry, picked one at random, and bought them something off of their wish list.

Congratulations to the Thompson family in York, PA! I hope your new baby enjoys the sound machine. 

 3. I Left Money in a Purse at the Thrift Store
I wrapped cash in a little note that said something along the lines of Today is my birthday and I'm paying it forward - enjoy this cash and have a great day!
I put the cash in a random purse that was for sale and walked away. Adrenaline rush!!
I really want to go back to the thrift store and see if someone bought that purse yet. 

4. I Bought Someone's Clothes at the Thrift Store 
I went up to the counter, handed them cash, and explained to them that I'd like to help pay for the next person's items. I also asked that if there was any cash left over afterwards to please use it for the next person, and so on and so forth. 
I jetted out of there, but looked back just in time to see the next person go to the counter. 
I think I pulled a muscle I smiled so hard. 

5. I Cleaned Up My Neighbor's Yard 
My neighbor is trying to sell his house and his landscaping is typically immaculate. Our properties are lined with jungle-like tropical foliage, and some large palm frawns had started to gather on his lawn. I picked them up and moved them to our brush pile for him. 

6. I Left Cash at the Gas Pump
Sometimes filling up can make you cringe. Hopefully this made someone cringe a little less. 

7. I Sent a Nice Greeting Card to a Random Address 
 I picked up the phone book (you know, those antique books you have stacked in your garage holding up a wobbly work bench), flipped to a random page, closed my eyes, and put my finger on an address. Hope it brightens your day, Ms. J. Moody! 

8. I Brought In My Neighbor's Trash Can
If you leave them out there for too long, the city will ticket you. Ain't nobody got time for that.

9. I Left Money at a Vending Machine
I taped a dollar bill to the machine - enjoy a cold one on me, random stranger! 

  10. I Left Quarters at the Laundromat 
Nobody likes doing laundry. Hopefully this made it a little less daunting.

 20. I Left Inspirational Notes on Car Doors 
Who doesn't love a little surprise inspiration?!

12. I Returned Grocery Carts at Target...and Publix..and CVS...and Home Depot
Some people are lazy, it's a fact of life. I took some of the carts people left out in the parking lot and put them back in the cart return. 

13. I Left a Publix Gift Card...In Publix
I stuck it in next to the baby formula with a note that it was a legitimate gift card and to please use it. I hope some new mommy out there got a little relief!

14. I Bought the Person's Order Behind Me at the Dunkin Donuts Drive Through 
Have a great day, Ms. Medium Iced Mocha with 2 Donuts!

15. I Was a Meter Fairy
Parking tickets downtown are the worst. Hopefully I saved this car from having a bad day. 

16. I Took Plastic Bags to the Dog Park
There's nothing worse than getting to the dog park and realizing they're out of poop bags. These spare bags should save some dog mom or dad out there from being "that owner". 

17. I Donated Designer Clothes To a Shelter
I have a closet full of clothes that I rarely wear, some of it brand new with tags still attached. 
I took a bag full of brand new items, some of them designer, and dropped them off at a shelter. 
I hope whoever ends up with that Burberry shirt wears it with pride! 

18. I Took Balloons to the Children's Hospital 
I wasn't certain what to expect, as I didn't have a particular patient to visit. They didn't let me in to see individual patients, but I was allowed to give them to the nursing supervisor to give out to kids who may need a little extra pick me up. 

She was so excited, and then told me about this great charity event of sorts called 10,000 Balloons, which is part of the Monday Morning series led by Yazmany Arboleda. They've taken to the streets of Nairobi, Bangalore, and Yamaguchi so far, giving away balloons to the citizens of those cities that need a little extra hope. Talk about being right up my alley!
  More photos:
Nairobi, Kenya
 Yamaguchi, Japan
 Bangalore, India

The next one will take place in Kabul, Afghanistan. 
I, of course, bought a balloon for the next release in Kabul.
Balloon number 3,821 to be exact.
 And now my photo is on their virtual mural, too! 

19. I Took More Balloons to a Local Rehab / Assisted Living Facility
 I had to leave them with an attending nurse in the activities area, but got lucky and was able to peek behind me as she passed them out. It was both heartwarming and heartbreaking. I wanted to hug all of them.

20. I Took Even More Balloons to Kids Playing in the Park
Balloons are so magical, especially when you're a child. I loved watching their eyes light up as I bent down next to them and asked if they wanted a balloon. It was like Christmas morning. I might turn this into a weekly ritual. It was so simple and easy and just plain wondeful.

21. I Handed Out Cold Bottled Waters
I took a cooler full of water and walked around downtown. There was a group of older women who were practicing what looked to be a "Gangnam Style" dance routine/flash mob. No lie. And they were awesome.
I left waters for all of them-it was so hot out, and they were breakin a sweat!

22. I Left a Very (Very) Generous Tip for my Server
I've been in their shoes, and I know what they go through every day. Hopefully that made their shift go by a little faster. 

23. I Bought a Stranger a Drink
I looked around the restaurant and spotted a woman with a very delicious looking Strawberry Daquiri. I told the server I wanted to pay for it, and to not tell her who bought it.
I just loved watching her look around to try and find out who ordered it. 
Another pull-a-muscle-smiling moment. 

24. I Left a Bus Pass at the Station 
I bought a bus pass, good for all day unlimited rides, and taped it to the side of the bus stop.

25. I Left Cookies, Cold Water and a Thank You Note for the Mailwoman
The houses in my neighborhood don't have mailboxes on the street- they're all attached to the sides of the houses. Which means the mail people have to walk from house to house, lugging the mail. I can't imagine how hot it must be for them in the Florida summers.

26. I Was a Human Pooper Scooper
There is a great grassy park area on my street where people tend to sometimes not pick up after their dogs. I cleaned up their messes.
I decided against a photo op here. You're welcome.

27. I Painted Over Graffiti Downtown
I actually had a hard time finding some to paint over, which is a good thing!

Before                                    After

28. I Left Coupons Behind 
I'm good at clipping them but not so good at using them. Hopefully someone will take advantage of these!

29. I Left a Few Dollars at a Redbox
Hopefully it made someone's night-in a little more exciting!

It was a fantastic day full of giving back and paying it forward and making people smile, and hands down the absolute best birthday I have ever had. 


  1. Mary!!! That's so AWESOME!!!!! I need to do this for my 30th. Might be the distraction I need. :)

  2. This is so wonderful - you have to feel amazing after all this. Happy Birthday!

  3. I absolutely LOVE this! What a wonderful thing to do during your birthday month! I turn 42 in July and I am inspired to something similar! :-) You had some very original giving ideas! Love this list! Totally pinning it!

  4. This is pure awesome! What a fantastic list of acts of kindness. I'm definitely sharing this on my FB page. Did you really do every one of these acts on your birthday? That's one busy day! I love the idea of sharing balloons and leaving little love notes on people's cars and sending a greeting card to a stranger. I hope you keep up the giving all year long! Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Thanks Jenn! It was a very busy day for sure, but totally worth it :)

  5. WOw you're my hero that I need to copy for sure!

  6. Holy crap you are awesome!! I think a lot of people including myself could learn from this. I have been the lucky recipient of extra coupons left behind in Publix and it was great. I have left them myself too, and dint really think about it past "I didn't need them" and not how it could brighten someones day. Love it!

  7. Oh my goodness these are all outstanding. I've heard of some of the random acts of kindness, but some of these I've never thought of. I"m so impressed! I'm also impressed with how much time, energy, and money went into these. I love the idea! Happy Birthday Mary! I bet it made your birth month feel even better!

    1. Thanks Meghan! My birth month has definitely been the best yet :)

  8. This is really awesome!! I am sure you made a lot of people happy. I'm glad you had such a great Birthday and I hope it is re-payed to you in the future. :)

  9. That sounds like an amazing an inspiring birthday. Not enough of us commit to kindness on their special day. I'm so doing this for mine this summer.

  10. Love this! I like the variety and creativity you used. Happy birthday, and may the same kindnesses be returned to you 120 times over :)

  11. Ok Mary, so I just discovered your blog (thank you to FB for the suggestion) and this is my favorite post!!! LOVE some of these ideas so much, that I have decided to honor you with the sincerest form of flattery. :-)