Sunday, November 21, 2010

Let's Start a Movement

A holiday idea from Nancy Ware and Loren Hickman

We are seniors, enjoying our retirement, and reveling in the choices and options we have to chill out and plan nothing more than doing the crossword puzzle and letting the day unfold, or jumping in with both feet to volunteer, travel or tap dance. If we were to die tomorrow, at our age, people would say, "They lived long and happy lives..." ... and we have.

However, looking around us, the world this year seems gloomier. There is less room for optimism. The "Yes We Can" mantra of just two years ago is no longer on the lips of many of us --young and old. Cynicism has replaced belief in our leaders. Many of our children are struggling, trying to build a future for themselves and their new families, but it's not easy. The longest war in our history wages with little likelihood of success. There are Demons in the world.

But there are also Angels.

With this thought in mind, Loren and I talked about what part we might play in making the world a better place. Almost simultaneously we said, "Practice Random Acts of Kindness." We loved the idea and have decided to make the week after Thanksgiving a special time. Every day we will do a random act of kindness in some form. We could put a quarter in an expired meter; we could wrap some homemade cookies up with a cheery note and give it to someone; we could offer to pay for the coffee of the stranger standing in line behind us and, when she asked why, tell her about our random act of kindness campaign.

We talk about the Power of One - What if there were a cadre of Angels? What if everyone reading this invited all of their friends to think about doing random acts of kindness for one week? Could all the individuals together make a difference?

Could we transform at least the week after Thanksgiving intoseven days that would be tangibly filled with more kindness? Could we double, quadruple, and geometrically magnify kindness? What would the accumulated effect be?

We need your help to get the word out. Can you help us use technology to get this message out across the city, the state, the nation, the world? ( Facebook, Twitter, emails to friends, etc.) What if everyone in the world were given an opportunity to do one act of kindness each day over one week's time?

OMG! Wouldn't that be amazing?

Let's proclaim together: The week of November 29-December 4th will be
"The Week of Random Acts of Kindness."

PS: If you do this and have stories you want to share, post a comment on this blog or email me at and I will compile them.

PPS: For ideas, take a look at, a great site established by AARP giving ways of how we can help others.


nanwebware said...


Dear Nancy and Loren:

I loved hearing about your latest idea from Eryl. You are both extraordinary people, and I hope to do some good, also, in my retirement. To that end I have volunteered with UniversalGiving, Pamela Hawley's endeavor. I go to the city every Wednesday, and do what I can because I think it makes so much sense. Please go to the website and see for yourself. For John's birthday last year I gave a stove in his name to a family in Uganda. Every penny of my gift went to purchase the stove; UG takes nothing. Instead, they are paid by companies like Cisco who support their efforts by hiring them to do due diligence on NGO's that they may be linked with in countries where they are situated. They also give to UG because they wish to be viewed as a company with corporate social responsibility. If you can get the news out on your website, maybe another family or two will be blessed in that week following Thanksgiving!

nanwebware said...

When I asked my son, Arthur, if he thought his three young sons might get in to this project, he wrote back:

Yes. It is getting to the season where we gather together some toys to give away for the holidays. But more than that I would like them to practice more random kindness, There is way too much bribed kindness in our house, they want something and do one nice thing to try to get it…


Susan Eanes said...

Nancy & Loren - Yes,yes, yes! I'm on board, and will keep you posted. What I am really interested in at this point is hearing about the organizations such as the one Patricia mentions, and the one you note in your blog. I like knowing which organizations are known for doing the right thing - for giving the money where it is supposed to go. I must say I was getting a bit cynical about that part of our current culture also.

A Secret Gift - haven't read it yet, but this book by Ted Gup describes how his (?) grandfather, not an extraordinarily wealthy man, quietly, anonymously gave money to residents of Canton, Ohio during the depression. He never revealed his identity; recently, his great-grandson Ted was given the trunk containing thank you letters with touching accounts of what a difference the gift had made in their lives. One can only hope and imagine that these sorts of RAOK occur more frequently than we know.

Loved the graphics you chose! Thank you for doing this, for getting us focussed, for keeping us strong and hopeful. Blessings on your special Thanksgiving Dinner.

nanwebware said...

When I read about the "Acts of Kindness" movement, I thought it might be hard. It is the holiday season, and I work for the Post Office!!! I am NOT in the kindest of moods. But then something happened that changed my mind. I was taking a break at Starbucks. I was sitting in my mail truck and listening to a young couple having a screaming fight in the parking lot. It was deafening. Then I noticed an elderly woman crossing the parking lot alone, using a walker. She had to go right past the screamers. How awful for her, I thought. Then Nancy's movement popped into my head. I can do an act of kindness! I jumped out of my truck and asked the woman if I could help her. "No thank you. I do this alone every day," she replied. We both shook our heads in disgust over the fighting couple. The woman said that people weren't like that when she was young. We continued to talk as we crossed the lot and soon found out that we both had lived in the same part of the country many years ago and we remembered that time fondly. We had a lot in common and had such a nice conversation. I left feeling so good! This act of kindness did more for me than the person I was trying to help. I will join the movement and try very hard not to be a postal grinch. One more thought about the holidays and all the gift giving: It takes a much classier person to be a good getter than a good giver. Think about that!

Anonymous said...


I will hold a place in a long line foe a stranger during the busy shopping season at our local popular shopping outlet.
I will put quarters in the meters to save someone the possibility of a costly ticket.I will put kind words on cards and place on the windshield of police cars.I will pay the bridge toll for the auto behind me,continue to look after the elderly in all ways that I am able.I will wave an aproaching auto to my parking space when leaving the lot. and the list goes on

Anonymous said...

From Wini:

Nancy, I don’t know if we are to report in to you after the week of Random Act of Kindness movement, but FYI, here’s what I did: gave money to the Salvation Army twice, helped open a door to a pharmacy for a woman in a wheel chair (now that was a challenge with me on a Walker(J, and the rest of the week I gave money to panhandlers who seemed to be in dire need, although it’s hard to tell sometimes..

Thanks for the opportunity, Wini

nanwebware said...

The week is up, and I found it quite hard to do. The first day, I put a large, warm sweater in a bag with a little note that said, "I wish you a warm heart and a full stomach this holiday season." Then I walked around the Mission area for over a half an hour looking for a woman I might give the sweater to, but I found no one. So I ended up leaving the bag hung over a meter! Not sure where it went. One day I took turkey soup to a friend who had the flu; one day Loren and I armed ourselves with quarters and walked down 24th street and put a quarter in every expired meter. And a number of times I gave money to people who asked for it - which I am not always inclined to do. I think I was also more free with smiles and hellos as I passed people. It has definitely raised my awareness of people around me. But I am a bit befuddled as to why it should be so difficult to find daily opportunities to be kind to strangers.

Anonymous said...

HI, Nancy and Loren...thank you so much for your wonderful e-mail and the suggestion about how to dedicate last week for Random Acts of Kindness...I did not do a good job of forwarding on your link. I am afraid that I could not figure out how to add to the bolg about the project either. But Joe and I both thought this was such a wonderful idea that we did try to partake in our own way....
I copied him on this e-mail and he can add in the things that he did last week.

First of all it was great to give some thought to how I interact with people in my daily are a few of the things I can remember:

Giving a smile and a kind word to a hassled clerk who has to deal with an awful customer who is just ahead of me in line at the store.
Putting some small bills and quarters in an easily accessible pocket so I was able to give a street musician a tip when I usually just breeze by with a smile.
Buying a cute baby hat from a struggling street artist---when I knew I could easily make it myself (someday).
Bringing extra bags to the park to pick up after OTHER peoples dogs.
AND...I was super busy last week working on organizing a park clean up day at Crocker Amazon and putting on an art day at the club house. As I will doing all this stuff, I kept reminding myself that I needed to do some "random acts of kindness"...and I was concerned because all my time was being taken up by the volunteer projects. So finally the light bulb went off...and I thought that probably most of last week qualified for kindness to others and making our neighborhood better.

The rest of the month will bring on many more opportunities to do other things. Thanks for the chance to be part of this and to keep the spirit of it going.

All the best...Linda