Before I became a teacher, I worked in fast food. Not the most glamorous job but it paid the bills and, for the most part, I loved what I did.
One of the best parts though was watching the people who paid it forward. They felt good and the people behind them felt good.
I want to feel that kind of good.
So it's time to start giving back and bring a smile. I'm leaving my ideas on here as inspiration for you too.
Bring a Smile to a Stranger's Face
1. A Red Box Surprise
For some reason, this just makes me happy. I would love to do this and bring a smile to the recipient's surprised face. It is kind of like the pay it forward thing but better because you truly don't know who put the money in there for your treats with the movie that night!
I'm marking this one down as one of the first things to do and I hope you do as well.
2. Something Small can Also Bring a Smile
Sometimes it doesn't have to be a financial way of helping out. A piece of paper and a pen or pencil might help someone's heart in a major way. Just reading these options will bring a smile, so if you're an artist, don't just assume no one will want what you draw. If you bake, don't assume no one wants what you bake. Give the best of you, it means the world to someone I promise.
3. Dinner's On Us
Krissy at B-Inspired Momma came up with this great idea to help people who are hungry but may be afraid to ask for help. You simply leave food on their doorstep. It is fun for the people creating the basket and will bring a smile to their face, while heartwarming for the people receiving as well.
I think this one is pretty self-explanatory yet still needed. I love the idea of giving a person asking for money on the side of the road things that they need instead of cash. Maybe they are hungry- add a few snacks. Maybe they are thirsty- add a water bottle. Think about the things they need. If they truly need it, they will be grateful.
5. The Unspoken Heroes
This gift from Fifty-two Week Pinterest Challenge was given to the mailman, and I can just imagine his suprise, and then how this would bring a smile to his face.
I love the idea of helping the unsung heroes of the world. The people who have jobs but don't get any love from them.
My thoughts go out to the trash people. It's dirty, it's stinky and I am sure not much fun and yet they get up early and do it every single morning they are required to.
This summer, I plan to bring them a water bottle at the least.
The rocks are similar to the “Take What You Need” paper but different because you are supposed to swap out the rock when you find them.
My daughters made one a few months back and swapped it at Outback Steakhouse in their rock area. It took about a month before that one got swapped for one they found at Jelly Stone Park.
Every time they get a new one they get so excited. One even had the twitter name of the person that created it and we followed them, sending a picture of us with their rock.
It creates a sense of community. See the full article here.
7. Blessing Bag
Here is a way to help someone that is small. Similar to the purse, this would be one to hand to a gentleman. I wouldn't put the five dollars in there though, I would give a gift card to a restaurant instead or maybe Walmart.
This way they can have a few of the things they need and you can feel good about doing something to help others without having to worry about what they are spending the cash on.
The original article can be found here and just reading it will bring a smile to your face!
8. Pay It Forward
One of the best blog posts I have ever read was from a woman who saw a mother that looks frustrated and flustered- with two kids in the backseat. So she paid it forward, hoping to help the mother have a better day. It made her feel better as well. I wish I remembered where the post was at so I could share it with you.
You never know what someone else is going through and something as simple as paying for a five dollar cup of coffee might make another person's day or even their week! A little goes a long way.
9. Remember the Ones in Your House
It's easy to think of others and, sadly, just as easy to forget about those we spend time with day to day. Doing something small for the ones we love can be as simple as leaving ice cream and letting your spouse know that they are as important to us as the other ones we serve.
Brittney over at The Military Wife Life did a great job of sharing several different ways to celebrate your spouse.
10. Let Others Know When They Make You Smile
When others do something that makes you smile, let them know it. Something as small as appreciating Christmas lights and telling others can make a big difference in someone's life. It feels good to know you are appreciated.
I know this firsthand because the moment that I decided I truly loved my new school as much as the one I previously taught at, was when a student sent me a note that said she had the best teacher in the world.
This idea was brought to you by Camilla over at Family Chic.
11. Ding Dong Ditch
I love the idea of sending a little token of goodies to your neighbors with a note wishing them a happy holiday season and walking away. While I am not totally sure this is the idea that To Stand as Righteous Women had in mind with the picture it is instantly what I thought about.
The holidays are all about giving and we have really lost touch with our neighbors as our lives have changed, no longer knowing them as intimately as people did in years past. Maybe it is time to change that and here's one way to do it.
12. Laundromat Help
Going to the laundromat is no fun. Typically people who have to go there are working class citizens who don't have enough to pay for a laundry facility in their apartment or purchase one for their home. Maybe they had one and it went out and they cannot afford to get a new one at the moment.
No matter their circumstances, getting a wash or dry paid for sure makes a day brighter.
This idea is even better- the couple over at Friday We're In Love had a date night where they went around spreading their love to others by giving random acts of kindness such as this.
13. Sucker Flowers will Bring a Smile
Know someone who's having a bad day? See a kid who's upset over not getting candy in the checkout line? Double check that it's okay and then hand them a sucker with a flower on it telling them that your goal is to make their day better.
It's the small, random things that can change a frown into a smile. Which was Laura's goal over at Kind over Matter.
14. Bubbles Around the Park
So many of these have the benefit of being able to share the joy of giving back: a child can help prepare these. Kids love bubbles and moms will love the opportunity to see their kids faces light up when they find their new piece of enjoyment at the park.
I also super love this idea because, like the first one, there is not a face with a name. If you hand a blessing bag to a stranger or pay it forward, there is a chance you will get caught. With Make Them Wonder blog writer Dana's idea no one will know!
15. Nursing Home Visits
Yes, it kind of goes back to the purse and the blessing bag but this one is a bit different. I think that in addition to giving these items to the nursing home, spending time there is equally as important.
Growing up, my mother worked in a nursing home and there was one gentleman I would go sit with and listen to his stories of riding motorcycles and working in the military. I enjoyed his stories and he enjoyed the company. So many of these people don't get visitors, so even one person coming and sitting with them means a lot.
For more ideas on what they need, ask them or go to Hustle. Mom. Repeat. to see her list.
16. Volunteer at the Animal Shelter
A while back my girls and I started volunteering at the animal shelter. You know what we did? We came in and loved all the animals- puppies and kitties alike. We had so much fun taking them for walks and cuddling up with the cats. Sadly, we moved away from the area and didn't get back into volunteering at the shelter but it was a great experience.
If you don't have time, why not make toys out of old T-shirts or bring in food for the animals? All help is greatly appreciated!
17. Donate Blood
This ad is so cool. I never knew that one unit of blood could save up to three lives. I gave blood a lot as a teenager but after having kids I wasn't ever around a place that I could donate and the thought had started to scare me. Then this year I got put in charge of the high school blood donation.
Seeing all those teenagers give without complaint made me think that I could do it too so at the end of the day I did and it felt wonderful!
We see people all around us who are sick. Sometimes it's personal, close to home and other times it is friends of friends or people in our community. No matter, we need to donate blood so others can have a chance at life like us!
18. Words of Encouragement
This picture is cute but the idea behind it is even better. Everyone, no matter how big or small, needs someone who tells them “You can do this“, “Keep your head held high“, “Here's what makes you special“. You could do this anonymously, with your name at the end, specifically for that person, or randomly for someone. There are so many different ways to flip this one and really have fun with it!
19. Send a Hug
Have someone who lives far away and you want to do something sweet for them? How about sending them a hug? This is such a fun idea to do, especially with little ones. The full details are given over at Paging Supermom.
20. Really Get the Little Ones Involved
When I was looking for more ideas I came across an article called “Twenty Simple Acts of Kindness Kids Will Love.” Naturally, I cannot get enough of including my little ones in the things I do. Including things like giving.
But Corinne's story brought tears to my eyes, so while I am not going to use any of her suggestions, I am going to recommend you go over to her page, The Pragmatic Parent, and see how she took what could have been a simple act of kindness and turned it into an opportunity to teach her little ones the same simple acts of kindness.
21. Give a Smile
I got into the habit of smiling at others a while back just because it made me feel good to see them smiling back at me. Now, it's habit. People are amazed at how cool I stay under pressure. I think a big part of it is my view of the world…
I deal with food day in and day out, with a little writing on the side. My attitude as I am taking care of them might determine the rest of their day. Why would I want to make it worse? Plus, in making them smile and feel better, I make myself smile and feel better.
I promise you this is the truth. Find something small and start there. Before you know it, you will be smiling and so will everyone else around you.