Practice 52 Random Acts of Kindness in 2013

In the year 2000 Haley Joel Osment captured our hearts as young Trevor McKinney. Troubled by his mother's alcoholism and fears of his abusive but absent father, Trevor is caught up by an intriguing assignment from his new social studies teacher, Mr. Simonet. The assignment: think of something to change the world and put it into action. Trevor conjures the notion of paying a favor not back, but forward--repaying good deeds not with payback, but with new good deeds done to three new people. The film was Pay it Forward written by Jim Beaver and the premise which struck during pre-recession and pre-911 was perhaps a little ahead of its time. Yet it was an experiment in human kindness that I never quite forgot. This last week I got a call from a friend who kindly turned my attention to a facebook group that was growing in leaps and bounds surrounding the idea of random acts. She said that over 600 people had been added in just a few days, and that a local lady had sparked the initiative. So naturally, I had to track her down.

Yvette Yeomans is a special woman with a simple plan: up the ante on her personal exploration of kindness and gratitude by sharing it with others. Yvette is well practiced at this skill having adopted the '30 days of gratitude' challenge posed on social media back in November 2011. Since accepting the challenge she has been posting one small thankful item each and every day. Stopping to appreciate the little things  has brought an element of fulfillment to her otherwise ordinary interactions.

Wherever there is a human in need, there is an opportunity for kindness and to make a difference.

 - Kevin Heath (CEO, More4kids)

Splitting your sandwich with a hungry coworker at lunch time.. RAOK!

In a moment of inspiration Yvette took to facebook and created a group called 52 Random Acts of Kindness in 2013 - an online social club she handed off via sharing of links to a few friends who handed it off to a few more.

I knew what I wanted to do this year. I just wanted a handful of people willing to do it with me, so I sent it to my friends who sent it to their friends..and so on. It exploded beyond what I ever would have imagined.

It was a moment of inspiration born out of a desire for change. Before long the concept went viral. Yvette has been enjoying watching the group catch on - many members have already started sharing their RAOK. The facebook group has become a forum for positive thought, an opportunity to shine with good intent and a place to be uplifted by the kindness of others.  Now enjoying a second week in the spotlight the group has capped 1,000 members.  Connect to the group on facebook.

Paying for the car behind you at the car wash - RAOK!

52 random acts is not about financial giving, it more like a call to good citizenry. The forum is flowing with great ideas and small but impactive  gestures. Some of the RAOK in progress include being in the moment, putting the needs of others first and showing appreciation.  One post in particular about a local Poughkeepsie family that lost everything in a fire is overwhelmingly inspired. Friends and neighbors started a collection site for the people - strangers if not for the sharing of their story in this forum- leading to a multitude of participants asking what was needed and how to help. Several other members followed a link to adopting a soldier and have made personally thanking a US service person a part of their daily kindness routine.

Helping someone carry their groceries - RAOK!

But, there is another side to this thing. It's not just the giving that shows kindness - it is receiving graciously.

As this thing grew I began to notice that this could soften us as a society, help us to put aside rejection and be recipients of an act. I think we’ve gotten to the point where we are suspicious of receiving. Think about when you've given a gift to someone who says, 'Oh no! You shouldn't have.'  It takes away from the giving.

Many of the people don’t share what they do - they're not interested in the spotlight. That's OK. All are welcome to say or not say what their intent is or just watch others in their weekly acts of kindness for inspiration. It is a creative space where people can visit to regenerate and feel uplifted.

 This was one of my favorite posts: Often I will be out running errands and see someone who is obviously homeless, who looks so cold. I always wish to myself that I had something to give to them, so today, I went through our overflowing coat closet, packed a nice bag full of warm supplies ( a coat, socks, scarf, hat, gloves, etc...) put it in a bag, and put it in my car, so that the next time I see someone in need I will have the bag to give to them :-) Now for next weeks RAOK!!! - Emily Green Pacella

Hand delivering a coat to a cold person on a cold day- awesome RAOK!

 Browse more kindness IDEAS.

Yvette is a Pampered Chef consultant from Highland, NY who loves to cook. She is the founding member of 52 Random Acts of Kindness in 2013 - a facebook group that is currently over 1,o00 members strong. She is grateful for the little things like getting up and out of bed in the morning, enjoying her 5 senses, blue skies and coat-less January days. We think she's awesome and look forward to an entire year of inspired kindness thanks to her great idea.

Movie quote pulled from IMDB