Anne Frank said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single minute before starting to improve the world.” Random acts of kindness are wonderful and create a ripple effect. Starting a movement of paying it forward doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Sometimes all that is needed is a little creativity and some time to start a positive effect.

Leave money on a vending machine or put a few coins in a parking meter for someone. A bit of change is an affordable way to brighten the day for someone looking for a snack or parking space.

Bake cookies for a local police or fire department. Say thank you to first responders by offering a treat for their hard work.

Donate time. Serve at a homeless shelter, or walk or play with pets at a local animal shelter or rescue. Find something enjoyable and volunteer.

Spread magic. Blow bubbles at a park or outdoor concert or leave change on the side of a fountain for other’s wishes.

Pay it Forward
“The pay it forward stuff at drive-through restaurants or coffee shops are always my favorite because I’ve seen the chain go on for an entire day,” says former barista Alyssa Jacobson. Photo credit: Alyssa Jacobson

Help the earth by stopping to pick up litter at a park or on the beach. It’s something almost anyone can do and maybe if others see it, they will join in.

Standing in line is not always easy or fun. If someone is struggling with grumpy kids or just looks overwhelmed, offer to let them cut in front of you.

Beyond actions, words have power. Give a stranger a compliment. Letting someone know you admire their fashion or that they have a fabulous smile is a quick way to spread kindness.

Help save a life. Donate blood or even consider being a living organ donor. The ultimate gift to one of the 100,000 people waiting for a kidney is a selfless act of giving. In most cases, the transplant recipient’s insurance will cover general expenses of a donor, such as the evaluation, surgery, and limited follow-up tests and medical appointments.

Prepare a meal for a family. In life, there are countless situations that make everyday tasks harder. Know someone who just had surgery? New parents? Heard of a family dealing with a crisis? A homemade meal from the heart can offer a little extra respite.

Pick flowers to give out on the street. Maybe do this one with a friend for safety, but handing a flower to a stranger will bring smiles all around.

Daliahs at Cyndle's Fresh Cut Flowers
“No one appreciates anything more than the time that is given to them,” says Kiyomi Holland. “Time is the greatest gift and can cost a lot but buys nothing. Sit down and listen to someone’s story. Every single act of kindness is always about giving your time.” Photo credit: Krysta Carper

Leave letters of encouragement on people’s cars or a coworker’s desk. See a friend’s car in the parking lot? Drop a quick note to say what you love about them on their windshield. Is a coworker having a hard day? Drop a thank you for their contributions on their desk.

Write letters or send a simple care package to soldiers and veterans. For those who are far from home, a little gesture can help remind them they are not alone.

Help a friend move. Setting up a new home is daunting. Offer to help pack up, use your truck, or get the new place functional is a free way to alleviate a loved one’s stress in a difficult time.

Participate in a fundraiser or donate to a non-profit. If you can’t donate cash, see if there are opportunities to volunteer.

Thank a teacher with a handmade gift. Don’t forget the often overlooked people at schools. The lunch people, custodians, bus drivers and administrative staff all work hard to support kids too.

Help a senior or someone who experiences a disability with their groceries. Sometimes people need help with shopping too.

Gravestone Flowers
Remember the departed. Bring flowers to a loved one’s grave or clean up a forgotten headstone. Photo credit: Terrie Noble

Shovel a neighbor’s driveway when it snows or rake leaves in the autumn. Get the kids to help for a shared sense of community.

Babysit for free. This is especially helpful for new parents to get a few hours of fun. Know a family with multiple children? Offer to take some of the kids so parents can get time one-on-one with a child.

The Buy Nothing Project Group on Facebook is full of great random acts of kindness. People rally together and get food or diapers or almost anything together for people in need. Join and see if you have something to contribute and help a neighbor.

Listen to others. Really hear what they have to say and make sure to not just wait to respond.

Kids at Football
Show up for a young person’s game, concert or other events. Kids need to know they are valued and loved. Support them just by showing up to important events. Seeing familiar faces in the crowd is always an encouragement. Photo credit: Krysta Carper

Send a letter to a good friend letting them know why they are special to you. To cheer up a friend who is down, lend them a favorite book or movie.

Give time at a retirement home. Play music, sing and share talents with others who will enjoy something new.

According to Psychology Today, kindness is linked inextricably to happiness and contentment at both the psychological and spiritual level. Compassion also reduces stress, boosts immune systems, and help reduce negative emotions such as anger, anxiety and depression. So in the end, doing good deeds helps the giver too!

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County. The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at submit@thurstontalk.com. For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and the surrounding area, visit our complete events calendar.


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