Saturday, January 3, 2015

Paying it Forward

In continuation of "Paying it Forward" I thought I would share a few more inspirations since my last post.  I have renamed my blog in an effort to make the title more relevant for continuation, but it doesn't change the (Fifty-One Acts) inspiration behind starting it.  The Fifty-One Acts encouraged me to continue inspiring and loving others.  

It was nearly Thanksgiving and I noticed a post on public Facebook group from someone saying how they'd like to give away the fixin's for a Thanksgiving dinner.  There were comments from a people in need and I offered to help as well.  Meanwhile there were others offering their free turkey cards (our local grocery store offers stamped cards for a free turkey if you spend so much each year before Thanksgiving).  I had given away my free turkey already and I gave all of my additional stamps to a friend, who in turn gave her extra stamps away too.  I did however, find another friend who had an extra free turkey card.  I grabbed it, then got the turkey and took it to a grateful stranger.  I also gathered a few more stamps from a friend to share with someone else in need.  While out and about, I delivered these cute "Extra Thankful for You" turkey's. Find free printables here.

After Thanksgiving I received a complete surprise from my friend Glenn who was the inspiration behind the Fifty-One Acts.  He sent me a beautiful "Pay It Forward" Award!  My boss and coworker presented it to me with flowers and an awesome wall hanging.  I was so honored and surprised! 

I just knew that I had to continue paying it forward, so I decided that the young man, my friends 9 year old son who helped me with the Fifty-One Acts, should be rewarded as well.  I ordered a beautiful award for him and presented it to him in front of his third grade class.  I also gave each class member a note that said "You're awesome because ________" to give to someone who they thought could use encouragement.  I look forward to hearing their stories!  This was the most inspiring experience for me to know that sharing with the class my just encourage some of them to pay it forward.    

Christmas was right around the corner and thoughts of giving and sharing the experience had never been more on the top of my mind.  I took my nephew and his friend out for a day and we decided to buy a few toys to donate to needy children.  I expected that the 5 & 6 year old boys would want toys for themselves too, but they didn't.  They very much understood that they were blessed and that they were getting gifts for other kids less fortunate.  We donated the toys and then they got to see Santa!  I am so proud and I am sure Santa was good to those boys this year.  

I am blessed beyond measure by these experiences and others that I choose not to share (in an effort uphold the integrity of giving humbly and 'random' acts of kindness).   I can't wait to see what more life brings in this New Year!  Happy 2015!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fifty-One Acts

Fifty-One Birthday Random Acts of Kindness

Inspired by my friend Glenn Shepard, who asked for gifts of "a random act of kindness for strangers" for his 51st birthday, I decided to do 51 random acts of kindness in his honor.  

Glenn is an incredibly giving and caring person and has done so many amazing things for others.  His generosity along with his leadership, knowledge, faith, enthusiasm for life, and adventurous spirit, make him truly an inspiration to me!  

At first, 51 didn't sound like much but, as I began the process, it became more evident that I wanted the acts to be meaningful, which took one full week.  

I debated on weather or not to share these experiences.  I don't want the credit, and I feel compelled to give quietly and humbly.  I also don't want the recipients to think this was "just a project", for many of them were life-changing for me.  However, if this process can inspire and encourage others, just as many have encouraged me, perhaps it is meant to be shared.  

Just before doing this, I was in a challenging place in my life, and in my faith.  I know that God's plans for me are better than I can imagine but, it was still very hard not to be angry, and I found it difficult to pray.  Through the process of Glenn's birthday gift however, I began to think more about others and was less concerned with myself. That made it easier to talk to God about what things I could do to bless others. God really showed up in my life this week and has given me more encouragement than I would have guessed.  Because of the process of thinking of kind things to do for people, not just one, but 51, I am more aware of the fact that many people could use encouragement and that there are small things (and big things) that you can do every day.  I could not think of a better way to celebrate someone's birthday with them, for I feel I have been given the greatest gift.  Thank you, and happy birthday to my dearest friend Glenn!

P.S. -Glenn has a very inspirational weekly newsletter that I would encourage you to sign up for! 

*Not all acts were for strangers, but the majority were.  Some don't have photos. 

1. Left notes on hunters trucks thanking them for hunting in Huron.  It was pheasant hunting opening weekend and I work for the local Chamber & Visitors Bureau, brought my friend 'buddy' with me.

2. Left a $10 gift certificate for a table of hunters at breakfast with a note thanking them for hunting in Huron.

3.  Left a portable dog water dish with dog treats in the back of a hunters truck (by the dog crate).

4.  Left lottery tickets in random places (on the gas pump and at shotgun shells at a department store).  I saw that the person who found the one at the gas station posted the act on Facebook.  She had a bad day and didn't win anything, but she seemed to find it encouraging.

5.  I wanted to share this experience with someone, so I chose my good friends young son.  I picked him up and took him with me for a few fun acts for kids.
6.  We wrote 'have a good day' on pumpkins and left them in random places.  

7.  We left bubbles at a park for kids to find with a note that said "have fun". 

8.  We left a few dollars on inexpensive toys at a department store with a note that said "finders keepers".

9.  We left a balloon and flowers at the hospital for the nurses to give to someone in need of encouragement.

10.  We left several random notes in chalk for people to see: "happy hunting," "happy birthday," "thanks for recycling," "smile," etc.  

11.  Left a bag of popcorn at a Redbox with a note "enjoy some popcorn with your movie on me."

12.  Left some coins at a self car wash with a not that said "I'ts a beautiful day for a car wash, enjoy one on me."

13.  Left a bottle of water at the gym with a note that said "you're awesome, have a great workout."

14.  Took donuts to the police station, fire station and national guards. As I was delivering the donuts early one morning, I saw this small church glowing in the sunrise.  

15.  Left some Extra gum and a note that said "Just an Extra thanks for delivering our mail."

16.  Left a note and a token with my pastor to give to someone who had just lost a young (30-something) sibling. 

17.  Left some farm fresh eggs for my pastor and a note thanking him for all he does.

18.  Gave a gift certificate for a massage (donated from a friend) to a daycare provider to give to a mom who she thought could use it.  The daycare provider texted me later and said that the hard working single mom was in tears and didn't feel like she deserved it.  Of course she did!  

19.  Gave the daycare kids candy.
20.  Gave the daycare provider a bottle of wine (see number 19).  ;)

21.  Left pencils at the school for the secretary to give to a teacher who could use them, with a note that said thanks.  

22.  Gave a shout out to Glenn on the radio along with encouraging others to do random acts of kindness.  

23.  Left a color book and crayons at a clinic for kids.  

24.  Left pennies randomly on the ground "heads up". 

25.  Left a note in one of Glenn's favorite books at the library.

26.  Brought chocolates to a group of ladies that I did a "Welcome to Huron" for. 

27.  Left notes on farmer trucks at the sale barn, thanking them for their hard work.  Our community is one of many agricultural businesses and producers.  

28.  Paid for someone behind me at the fast food drive-up.  Glenn left $51 on the day of his birthday at a McDonalds for them to use on the next several orders.  

29.  Sent Shari's Berries (chocolate covered strawberries) to a gal who photographed our surprise wedding in California a few years ago.  She is one of the most gracious and generous people I know.  Before our wedding, she sent a beautiful book (wrapped and decorated so elegantly) and card to us as a 'congrats' .  I recently saw that her husband had posted on Facebook that they had discovered she had cancer.  Unfortunately, after I sent the berries, I found out that the cancer was in her mouth!  I felt horrible about this, but they were very gracious.  Her husband assured me that she is on the mend from a surgery and will be back to eating soon.  I still feel like I have to send something else, but it's a better reason to keep her encouraged.     

30.  Adopted a soldier and sent a care package.  This was one of the most encouraging and heart touching things that I have ever done.  I signed up at and they responded almost instantly with stories and experiences that made me cry.  Our soldiers in combat go without lots of things that we take for granted, and work so tirelessly and humbly.  I was connected with a soldier in Afghanistan and I sent him an email immediately, to which he has responded.  They encourage quick contact so that your soldier knows you're there for them.  I would encourage everyone to do this.

31.  Gave a smiley balloon to a young lady sitting outside alone.  

32.  Gave a bag of coins to hitchhikers ($10) and later gave another homeless guy some cash ($4-all I had on me).    

33.  Put a few new kids books in the Reach Out & Read box at the hospital.  

34.  Made care packages for our two Domestic Violence Shelters. 

35.  Put a note on a mirror in a department store that said "you look awesome."

36.  Made a "giving plate" and baked cookies for a neighbor I hadn't known.  I think we will become good friends!  :)  

37.  Sent a care package to a farmer in need of some encouragement during a challenging harvest.  

38.  Sent a thank you card to a man who helped me jump my car.  (Left my keys in my car while delivering farmer notes at the sale barn and my battery died, thank goodness for handy farmers).  

39.  Posted a thoughtful note to someone on social media.  Our high school band director took the band to a grand re-opening, and they were amazing!  He (and they) deserved a bit of praise!

40.  Left some stamps at the post office with a note for the finder to send a few nice notes to family or friends. 

41.  Wrote kind "drop in your bucket" (from the book "How Full is your Bucket") notes to my Leadership class of 23 people.  This one was our facilitators idea, she didn't even know about my 51 acts.      

42.  Left a t-shirt (that says I <3 Turkey) for our local turkey store to give away to a customer.  (We have colonies in Huron who raise turkey's and they own a turkey processing plant and the turkey store - Wyshbone Market). 

43.  Sent an old dress to a lady who makes angel gowns out of them for babies who never make it home from the hospital.  Thanks to my friend Jen for the idea!  

44.  Gave a turkey and Thanksgiving fixin's to a single mom.  

45.  Gave some peanut M&M's (Glenn's favorite) to the school's transportation & grounds superintendent. That was after I decided to eat the first bag following a long day.  ;-/    

46.  Left a good book with a note at Starbucks for someone to take.

47.  Went to a thrift store, found a nice coat, put a note on it that said "pick me" along with $5 to go towards their purchase.  While at the thrift store I discovered that they had a big truck outside and a bin that said for the "Epilepsy Foundation".  I asked about it and realized that this particular store gives a majority of their profits to Epilepsy research.  I just about cried, my sister passed away from Epilepsy and I am so proud to know that there are things being done to find a cure.  

48.  Bought some socks and donated them to a high school fundraiser for "Socktober".  Socktober is a "Kid President" project.  I am inspired by this kid, he's just awesome!

49.  My nephew and I took a bucket full of tennis balls to a dog park to give to all of the dogs to play with.  (This made us laugh out loud!  The dog in the photo was more interested in the bucket than the balls.  She (Plywood was her name) took the bucket in her mouth, dumped the balls all over and ran off with the bucket.  It was so much more fun that I would have imagined.)

50.  Left little treat boxes with mints and encouraging notes in them.    

51.  Gave a Keurig (donated by a friend), coffee cup, and coffee to a girl who I discovered (through Facebook again) could really use a "pick-me-up," more than just the caffeine kind.  This was one of the most fun acts for me.  I noticed this girl through my work Facebook page.  She had posted about a day that she had difficulty breathing and had lots to get done.  As I looked further, I noticed that she was often having health challenges, but was also often in the hospital with her cousin who was going through surgeries.  I also noticed that she had a daughter without hair, and that she liked coffee.  We had a few mutual friends so I began the process of figuring out a way to get something to her.  In this process, I learned more.  She has a heart condition that also makes it hard for her to breath.  Her daughter has a condition where so she can't grow hair.  She also just recently lost her mom.  I begin to think that I wanted to do  more for her than just get her a gift certificate for a coffee.  I had a friend who graciously donated a Keurig for me to give to her and I got some coffee and a nice cup for her.  I was able to surprise her at a  park on a beautiful day.  Turns out, she was just talking with her friends about how she wanted to try a Keurig.  I had no idea if she had one or not.  Also, the red color that I chose for the cup was her favorite color!  She cried, I felt so overwhelmingly blessed to have been a part of this.