First off, Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers!
Today marks the beginning of the feel-good season, a month devoted to spending time with family and friends, loading up on roasted meat and sugary carbs, and fighting the crowds to get the perfect gifts for everyone from your spouse to your hairdresser (of which I have neither). It’s a month to be thankful for what you have, and delight in what you can give others. And of course that whole baby Jesus/ancient solstice yule log thing, if you’re into that.
It’s also the perfect time to perform guerrilla acts of kindness. I mentioned this last year (and I think I gave everyone who shared with me a critique; if not, I’ll do that as soon as I find some free time, I promise), but here’s a recap for new readers:
Guerrilla act of kindness (n): doing something nice for someone, without them knowing about it, and feeling really good in part because you know you did it to help someone and not for the recognition.
While many people are doing well right now in America, quite a few aren’t. A few statistics, from Feeding America:
- In 2011, 46.2 million people (15.0 percent) were in poverty.
- In 2011, 16.1 million (22.0 percent) children under the age of 18 were in poverty.
- In 2011, 50.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 33.5 million adults and 16.7 million children.
- Among members of Feeding America, 74 percent of pantries, 65 percent of kitchens, and 54 percent of shelters reported that there had been an increase since 2006 in the number of clients who come to their emergency food program sites.
I still don’t have a fulltime job, but I’m doing okay. I have enough for all my needs, with some left over. And that’s in part why this year, I’m going to aim for a guerrilla act of kindness every day until Christmas (and yes, I realize telling the world this lessens the non-recognition aspect, but I strongly think it’s something everyone can easily do, and I want to spread the word)/
While you can do big stuff, like last year when anonymous strangers paid off people’s layaways so their kids could get Christmas presents., it’s just as easy to do little things, and if everyone does one a day (or each week), it’ll add up. Here are some easy little things:
- Buy a couple extra nonperishable on-sale food items and drop them in the food-collection container at the grocery store. Or if your grocery store doesn’t collect for a food pantry, put the extra item in a box in your trunk and when it’s full, take it by yourself.
- Buy an extra stocking cap or pair of gloves (they’re $1-3 at Target) and donate them to a clothing drive. The local mall here is doing one, collecting socks, underwear, hats, and gloves for local kids.
- Go for a whole coat to give to Coats for Kids. JC Penney’s has basic coats for $17. That’s about 3-4 lattes; you can give up 3-4 lattes to keep a kid warm this winter.
- Keep a few dollars cash in your purse or wallet to have on hand to shove into various collection buckets (but not the Salvation Army, unless you agree with their spokesperson that gays deserve death).
- Give a bigger tip than usual to your server.
- Pick up an extra toy to give to Toys for Tots.
- Buy something for one of those Angel Tree kids.
- If you live in an area with snow, shovel your neighbors’ driveway or sidewalk. Or scrape their car windows.
- Make a small donation to an organization like Modest Needs, Kiva, or, my new favorite, Rolling Jubilee.
- Make Christmas cards for soldiers oversees, or people at local nursing homes (this is great for getting your kids involved).
Obviously those are just a few examples of how you can anonymously help others. What other ideas can you add to my list?
This year, you can help give others a feel-good season with just a small action. Will you join me in my crusade?