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Thu, March 21

Commentary: Small acts of kindness go a long way

I noticed a letter to the editor in the Daily Courier this past week in which a family thanked the gentleman who paid for their meals at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Prescott Valley. He didn't want to be known, he was just engaging in one of those random acts of kindness.

Paying for someone's meals in a restaurant is one of the most satisfying things to do - it doesn't cost much, but it sure makes their day.

My husband and I occasionally and anonymously have paid for the meals of others at restaurants, and we've had the blessing of someone else paying for ours. But we had a funny experience one morning at a local pancake house. We saw a nice couple we knew come in, and we asked the waiter to give us their check. He got flustered, and finally told us that they had asked for our check!

I have heard that some people pay for the order of people in the cars behind them at drive-through restaurants and coffee kiosks. It's a nice way to start your day and someone else's!

As I pondered these small acts of kindness, I thought about some other, inexpensive ways to bless others. So I did some research - including the Random Acts of Kindness website (yes, there is such a thing!) and polled some friends. I'll pass along some ideas here.

We all know about free dump days and special cleanup days, but what about simply picking up a piece of trash that you see and putting in a nearby trash can?

I am a big fan of a website called Flylady.com that has a plethora of ideas and help to organize your home and your schedule. One of Flylady's greatest inventions is the "27 Fling Boogie" in which you pick an area of your home, such as the bedroom closet, and pull out 27 things that you can discard or give away. I've done this several times with my closet and I'm amazed that I can always find 27 pieces of clothing that I can pass along to a non-profit organization or give to friends.

I give my "boogie clothes" to a friend who takes them to work and lets her co-workers take what they like. I'm glad to have more closet space and happy that someone else can use the clothes.

Who among us does not have too many books and magazines lying around the house? One of the best places to take these is the local library, which can resell them to raise money for library needs. Giving away our excess blesses others and simplifies our own lives.

If you have a garden this summer, why not give some of your extra zucchini or tomatoes to the food bank, or to a neighbor who might enjoy it? If you grow flowers, I don't have to tell you that just about anyone enjoys a fresh bouquet for no reason other than its beauty.

I always have loved cards, and I'm sure many people do. Maybe you can choose one person who is dear to you, or someone who you admire, or who has done something nice for you, write a short note in a card and either give or mail it to them. Too many times, we don't tell people what we admire about them, or that we love them, until it's too late.

If you are a baker or a great cook, you know that folks love to receive gifts of food. But you can give someone a nice surprise even if you pick up an extra loaf of specialty bread or something from the bakery when you are there, and pass it along to a neighbor or friend.

If you visit a business and an employee went the extra mile to help you, or was just particularly pleasant to deal with, why not call later and ask to speak to their supervisor, and tell them how much you appreciated their employee's efforts? A word from a customer goes a long way, and you'll make the employee's day.

We had a wonderful waiter in one restaurant who made our meal a great experience. We asked him if he would ask the manager to visit our table. The manager came, looking a bit apprehensive, but you should have seen the smile when we told him we just wanted to say what a great waiter and meal we had enjoyed.

I'm sure you can think of many ways to make someone's day a little brighter. The nicest things are many times the ones that take only a few moments and are very inexpensive. I hope you'll email me and share some of your ideas.

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