***Due to the awesome, unexpected response since I originally posted this, I have started The Birthday Project. The website is www.thebdayproject.com and we have started a great community of amazing like-minded people on Facebook too (please jump over to “Like” it and say “HI!”.) Thanks!***
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago my birthday wish was to complete one Random Act of Kindness for every year of my life thus far, as well as asking friends, readers, Facebook fans and fellow Twitter-ers to each perform one Random Act of Kindness and to let me know about it throughout the day.
I planned out 38 things ahead of time just in case, but really was praying for opportunities to present themselves throughout the day. It was absolutely freezing and windy but we were not to be deterred! My husband, three daughters and my husband’s parents joined me in the most favorite birthday of my life!
OUR 38 ACTS:
1. Returned grocery carts back inside the store from the parking lot for shoppers.
4. Inconspicuously dropped coins on the playground for children to find while they played (my girls are really good at this apparently. No, no one choked on a random found penny. Yes, LOTS of squeals of delight floated through the air as we walked away!)
5. Fed parking meters.
6. Paid for the next two cars behind us on the toll bridge. (Toll operator said, “You gotta be kidding me”).
7. Handed out Tootsie Pops to children (asked parents permission first of course!).
8. Bought a gift card for groceries and turned around and handed it to woman in line behind me. I wasn’t prepared for the look on her face. I immediately left before I started to cry.
9. Walked up to a family eating lunch at a local restaurant, placed a gift card on their table and walked out.
10. Dropped off several hand written thank you notes and doughnuts at the police station.
11. Gave a dozen hot doughnuts to a very cold crew working on the power lines.
13. Left 3 gift cards with notes hidden amongst books at Barnes & Noble.
14. Paid for the woman’s coffee behind us in line at Starbucks.
15. Chased down and caught runaway Happy Birthday balloon and returned it to the owner’s unlocked car (then secretly watched as he returned and was completely baffled at the balloon sitting in his front seat!)
16. Tucked happy notes in car doors in parking lot wishing people a good day full of God’s blessings.
18. Took art supplies to the Family Waiting Room of labor & delivery floor of the hospital for new big brothers and sisters to be.
19. Dropped off stuffed animals on the children’s floor of the hospital.
21. Handed out water bottles to very appreciative nurses (who knew they were so thirsty?).
22. Taped change to vending machines (I actually saw passersby stop and take pictures of the machines without taking the money).
23. Pumped woman’s gasoline so she didn’t have to get out of her car in the cold. (We also added a bottle of some sort of additive since she asked. I should find out what that stuff was. I never add stuff to my gas tank.)
24. Left quarters at a laundromat.
25. Delivered handwritten Valentine cards to the local assisted living facility.
26. Phone card to young woman in need. (I asked the owner of a store I frequent if he knew of any customers who might need it and he got a big smile on his face. He looked at the girl working there and told me she had just confided in him yesterday that she couldn’t afford her minutes on her cell phone to call her family back home. It was a suuuper cool moment.)
27. Handed out hot chocolate at ice skating rink.
29. Gave coffee to a toll booth worker on our way home. (He seemed the least affected or appreciative of the day. I feel like he might have needed it the most of everyone.)
30. Walked into McDonald’s and asked the cashier to use my free coupon on next person in drive through line.
31. Wrote a letter to old friend and mailed it (yeah, the total old fashioned way).
32. Took plates of cookies to 2 neighbors I don’t really know and spent some time talking with them (no, I did not bake them myself but no one seemed to care).
33. Read a story to children in Barnes & Noble (I think people thought I worked there! The kids liked it and the parents loved it!). BONUS: My 8 year old daughter found a little guy and read him a book too.
34. Took pictures of two tourists in front of Hard Rock Cafe and a family in the park.
35. Brought in the neighbor’s garbage can for them.
36. Gathered a newspaper that a woman who’s hands were full dropped at the grocery store.
37. Left a small treat with a note of thanks for the mailman.
38. Read an entire Junie B. Jones book (all 9 chapters) to my children before bed, instead of the usual two chapters. (Happy girls indeed!)
I was overwhelmed by the number of texts, emails, Facebook messages and Tweets I received from family, friends, colleagues and people I don’t even know, telling me a Random Act of Kindness they did in honor of my birthday. I cried several times throughout the day from how touched I was. Here are the great RAOK other’s did:
Jeanette: I am so glad to hear that you had an amazing birthday! My ROAK – My assistant teacher was having a rough week so I baked her a box of her favorite cookies… Snickerdoodles!!
Heidi: we collected old towels, washcloths and newspapers and am donating them to the local animal shelter!
Debbie: Just paid for the order for the car behind me at the drive thru lane….
Kimberly: Happy Bday! We just taught an older lady how to use the automated postal machine from start to finish ;o) (everyone deserves to learn how to avoid the postal line!!!)
Will: Called a new colleague to tell her a press release had a major typo on it before it went any further! Handled it graciously and with understanding that we all make mistakes.
Becky: Happy Birthday Robyn! I let someone use my discount card at the grocery store since they didn’t have one…not major, but I thought of you and smiled! Hope you get all of your Random Acts of Kindness fulfilled! Enjoy your day! Xoxo
Deanne: I didn’t kick the %$#* out of someone who drove me crazy tonite~~~ does that count?
Sandi: I collected something from Freecycle (electric Hannukah menorah) that I donated to an Adult Living Facility. I know that they prefer electric over real candles. Does that count towards your 38? I love your post!
Heidi: In honor of your birthday i cleaned out our closets and have donated 7 garbage bags of clothing to haiti!! (this was on my radar and i needed a little incentive, thank you!) happy birthday sweet friend!
Traci: We bought a box full of medical supplies, food, etc to donate to Haiti. O. was thrilled to help me pick out band-aids, gauze pads, tape, etc. Love you friend…hope you had the best birthday ever!! XOXO ♥
Mara: Happy Birthday Robyn! A. and I are making valentine cards to send to the military troops today! Hope you have a wonderful birthday!
Shandra: My random act was that I just paid for the bridge tolls of strangers behind me in line coming back from Logan airport. Also gave the toll taker a coffee from Dunkin Donuts. It’s WICKED cold here today.
Stacy: This pay it forward thing is an amazing idea. Wow. I am going to have to do this on my next bday. You have inspired me!!! Giving away free food randomlly to people at our (pizza) place today in your honor…probably shouldn’t say where, huh? xoxo
Lara: Today we spent the morning at the school doing yardwork and then came home and cleaned out closet/garage and donated everything to The Bargin Box!!!
Cameron: I let a mother with two squirmy kiddos ahead of me in line, even though she had way too much stuff
Lynn: Does it count if the lady next to us in “Avatar” was crying her head off and I gave her some tissues? She was most grateful…:)
Nicolle: My RAOK in honor of your Birthday…but, before I share, I have to say that you have started a tradition…and I, too, will use this request on my Birthday in August! I just LOVE this, Robyn…it is right up my alley and has filled me up today with good cheer and warm vibes and in turn has brightened the worlds of complete strangers~ matter-of-fact, I had such fun doing so, that I did it twice today! Ok, ready?
RAOK #1: Walked up to an elderly man in the mall today and simply smiled, asked if I could bless him and was surprised to find how open he was to the occassion…rested my hand on his shoulder, said a silent prayer, smiled and told him he was a special addition to this world of ours~ he, in turn, had tears and a smirk all in one. My heart was fulfilled~
RAOK #2: On the way home, stopped in 7-11, a little girl was glaring at the big cookies…asked her Mommy if I could, she said yes, so we (D. delivered) bought her a BIG GIANORMOUS cookie and some milk to go with it….D.’s little heart was fulfilled and his cheeks were rosy~
Thank you, Robyn!!! YOU, my friend, have made MY day! I adore you! HAPPY BIRTHDAY all over again!!! xoxo
Lara: My raok today, I bought coffee for the man behind me at Starbucks today!! And I just read that you did the same thing! How fun!
Amy: Bought tea for the lady behind me in line at the coffee shop declaring “it’s Robyn’s RAOK day.” Granted she has no idea what that means but my new friend, Betsy, declared that I must be the nicest person in the whole city. : ) I do stuff like this at the Holidays all the time. Thanks for the reminder to keep it going all year long. Love to you! (And I’m totally stealing this for my 38th in 2 weeks!)
Alexandra: In your honor, spent 2 hrs counseling a past acquaintance in his new walk with the Lord. Happy Birthday….
Claire: Hey Robyn- RAOK took $40.00 worth of quarters into Magic Kastle Laundromat and asked the lady behind the counter to pass out to all customers for a day of free laundry. Guess great minds think alike!
Diana: WOW ROBYN! I have never been so excited to have my Bday! You have inspired our whole day! My husband got involved we cleaned my 96 yr old great grandmothers house then went grocery shopping for my cousin who is currently unemployed! My acts werent randon but they were kind! Thank so much for a wonderful day!HaPpY BiRtHdAy my friend!
Michelle: had to call a maintenance guy out to my place yesterday (friend of a friend) – his 7yr old daughter was tagging along with him everywhere on Sat – when I realized I didn’t have any goodies for her, I stepped out & bought some Little Debbie Zebra Cakes & her very own bottle of milk – when I brought them back they were both blushing & smiling when they received them – the whole time I was thinking about your day! Thanks Robyn. B-)
Laura: RAOK We boxed our pizza up and handed it to two guys on the street in NYC. They were so excited.
Corinne: I pushed wayward grocery carts up to the front of the store so the bag guys/gals didn’t have to.
Carlos: RAOK – A boy came to the house selling chocolate bars so that he could earn money for him and his baseball team to go to Cooperstown. When I paid him, instead of picking out the bars I wanted, I told him to take what he wanted for himself. His face lit up! Not the biggest deal, but it was nice for him. And plus, it was for baseball!
Lynn: While visiting the freezing cold restroom at the Outlet Mall, I realized that the lady cleaning the area must really need lunch and a hot cup of coffee. Her sweet face and shocked response when I handed her the cash REALLY made my day! Thanks for inspiring us, Robyn!
Sean: After purchasing our tickets at the theatre, we purchased the next in line’s tix too! The Mom and her two teenagers were completely floored. “WHAT??? WHY????” then…”thank you so much, thank you!!!” We were giddy with having made their day and saved them a buck or two!
Joanna: Our random act of kindness on Saturday in honor of your birthday… At R.’s cheerleading competition we met a girl from Pensacola who was competing as an individual. Her coach, her family and her friends weren’t able to go to the competition, so she didn’t have anyone to cheer her on. We all yelled our lungs out for her. She placed 1st in her division Happy Birthday Miss Robyn!
Kylene: Inspired by your RAOK so I paid for the ladies’ coffee behind me at Starbucks this morning. She seemed excited.
Julie: In honor of your bday I treated the stranger behind me @ Starbucks to their morning coffee. Thanks for the inspiration!
Amy: Just bought gift card for lady behind me @DSW shoes.
Lindsay: not that creative but I paid for a girls cookie at the great cookie co at the mall:)
Amanda: RAOK – paid for the person’s meal in the car behind us.
Michelle: Hi Robyn – hope ur having a great wkend! Reached out 2 a troubled teen 2day-thx 4 the inspriration
Kate: I paid for the next two people behind me at the coffee shop this morning in honor of your bday.
Elisha: I’m organizing an event with friends to help raise money for a friend that has lost 5 members of her family in Haiti and is trying to get money together to send to other family members who are in need of a tents that are ranging in price from $500 -$700 each.
Kylene: Me & my hubby took pictures for 6 different groups of people at Millenium Park in Chicago yesterday. We’re both photogs.
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO CELEBRATED WITH ME. With the exception of my wedding day and the days I gave birth to my children, my 38th birthday was by far the best day of my life. We were both exhilarated and exhausted but mostly reminded how opportunities to help others are all around us all the time; we’re just usually too busy to notice. And thank you again, Kimberly, for the inspiration. You, my dear, are the original Rockstar!