Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Birthday Project - 40 Random Acts of Kindness

What began as somewhat of a challenge, turned into one of the most amazing projects I've ever undertaken. And, I was blessed beyond words.

After reading about my friend Amber's Birthday Project, I knew I wanted to do the same thing. Amber spent her 31st birthday doing 31 random acts of kindness (RAOKs) for people. I loved that idea! However, I knew there would be no way that I could do 40 random acts of kindness on my 40th birthday last month (1/21). But, I was willing to still do the 40 RAOKs - I just needed to spread them out over several days.

And so I began my own Birthday Project - on January 10. And, I just completed it yesterday! Friends, it was amazing! There's something to be said about finding healing when you spend time focused on others. The 22 days that I spent doing RAOKs were some of the happiest days of my grief journey, to date. And, I don't think that was "by chance". Now, don't get me wrong. Going through the process of grieving is VERY important, and I'm not trying to cover it up or take my mind off of it by doing for others. Simply put, I was just so filled with joy in doing for others that the darkest emotions of grief were unable to get through on those days. It was truly amazing!

And so, without further's my list:

1.     I sent flowers to a new She Speaks friend for her 32nd birthday. She lives in Nashville and is a single lady, and I knew she wouldn’t have a boyfriend or hubby bringing her flowers on her special day. As a widow, I know how lonely that can feel at times, so I chose to bless her in that way.
2.     I put a box of M&Ms along with a thank you note in our mailbox one morning to surprise our mail carrier!
3.       Gave a $25 Walmart gift card to a complete stranger while in Walmart shopping one day. I think I scared her at first – she thought it was too good to be true.
4.       I gave a $10 Walmart gift card to a lady working the window at one of our local McDonald’s after I paid for iced tea. I’ll never forget that grin on her face. Priceless!
5.       Sent flowers to a new friend of mine – also a widow – that lives in Arizona “just because”.
6.       Drove to another town 2 hours away to meet with another grieving woman affected by suicide in the loss of her brother right before Christmas.
7.       Put $1.00 bills with notes inside seven random books at a local used bookstore.
8.       Surprised a co-worker by completing one of her job responsibilities for her one morning.
9.       Delivered a book full of inspirational stories to help a co-worker during some difficult days.
10.   Surprised another co-worker with her favorite snack – peach rings – and left them on her desk chair one day!
11.   Gave a $10 Walmart gift card to another McDonald’s worker in a different part of town this time. Her whole demeanor changed upon receiving it. I loved watching that transformation!
12.   Gave $5 giftcards for a local cafĂ© to the grumpiest Pharmacy Technician at my local drugstore. The “grumpy” seemed to roll right off of her after receiving that small surprise.
13.   Gave a final $10 Walmart gift card to a third McDonald’s employee while at the drive-thru window.
14.   Folded my daughter’s laundry for her. (She’s been doing her laundry since the summer of 2010, so this was a HUGE deal for her to find I had already done it for her.)
15.   Took flowers to a neighbor and left them on their front porch with a note that simply said “to brighten your day”.
16.   Delivered a baby gift to the hospital where I was born (20 minutes away from where I currently live) the night before my birthday. It was a non-gender specific gift, so the hospital staff was asked to give it to a baby born on my birthday along with a note that I had written explaining I had been born in that very hospital 40 years ago.
17.   Left a silk flower on each of my female co-workers’ desks with a note saying, “You are special!”
18.   Left a generous tip (almost the cost of the bill) after eating at my favorite Mexican restaurant. I decided to do this ahead of time – regardless of the level of service.
19.   Left quarters in the candy/toy vending machines at a local mall for children to discover later.
20.   Sent a “thinking about you card” to a grieving widow I’ve never met.
21.   Sent a card to a woman that’s been visiting our church who has experienced severe loss in her life over the last two years.
22.   Sent an Edible Arrangements display to the ladies at in the office at one of my favorite ministries.
23.   Sent a note of encouragement to a woman going through breast cancer treatment.
24.   Prayed for each person I saw on the road, as I traveled to work one morning (i.e. people waiting on the city bus, walking, homeless).
25.   Created 2 treasure boxes and delivered them to a playground to be discovered by playing children. Each contained large plastic gold coins and a real $1.00 bill along with a note from me.
26.   Made up two activity bags (1 for a boy and 1 for a girl) to bless a couple of sick children in the pediatric until of our local hospital. Dropped them off and instructed the nursing staff to give them to two children they felt could benefit most from them.
27.   Taped a $1 bill with a note on a drink vending machine saying, “Enjoy a drink on me and keep the change!”
28.   While checking out at our local Walgreen’s, I found myself behind a little girl buying a stuffed Valentine bear for her grandmother. She was $0.12 short, so I gave her the $0.12. Easy but so fun to do – especially when she grinned!
29.   Paid for breakfast for the car behind me at Chick-fil-A one morning.
30.   Gave away a prize on my blog for someone that participated in my Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK) Birthday Project. The prize consisted of a Daily Prayer Organizer, 2 journals (one to keep, one to give away), a box of notecards, and 2 $5 Starbucks gift cards (one to keep, one to give away).
31.   Secretively paid for a haircut for a single mom and her son.
32.   Helped another co-worker on a different day with her job responsibilities to lighten her load.
33.   Donated makeup to a local women’s shelter.
34.   Donated money to the Ronald McDonald House.
35.   Sent money to a missionary.
36.   Sent a book and note of encouragement to a woman grieving the recent loss of her brother.
37.   Pushed grocery carts from the parking lot into my local grocery store before I started my shopping one night.
38.   Bought lunch for a friend.
39.   Took doughnuts to my local bank to say “thank you” for what you do.
40.   Wrote a note to one of my doctors thanking him for his excellent service and taking time to always make me feel as if I’m his only patient for the day. Also shared that I pray for him and his staff routinely.


  1. That's such a lovely list of good deeds. It sounds expensive, though, to someone who hasn't had an income since October.

  2. I LOVE ♥ them . . . all GREAT ideas - but I have a FUNNY for you!! :) Shortly after Rick died and we were still pretty "raw" we were in the drive-up line at McDonald's . . . I was a little "dazed" and didn't pull ahead when the line in front of me moved, so the guy behind me honked his horn. I wanted to jump out and yell at him, "DO YOU KNOW WHAT I HAVE JUST GONE THROUGH?", instead, I told the girls we'd pay for his order!! Great idea, but....when I told the McDonald's dude that I was paying for the guy behind me, he responded, "Does he know you are paying for him?" Me, "Um, no, then it wouldn't be a surprise...." McDonald's dude, "Oh, then I'm sorry you can't, we don't allow that". . . . SERIOUSLY ?? They don't allow RAOK at McDonalds . . . CRAZIEST thing I've ever heard!! :) At least I tried!! :)

  3. p.s. the "give-away" was AWESOME . . . and just today, I "paid it forward" and put the 2nd journal in the mail (with a note on one of the note cards!) to a dear friend who recently and unexpectedly lost her Mama!! ♥ The Starbucks card(s) went to my daughter and a friend of hers - we don't have Starbucks here (I live in the BOONIES!) - but they will use them when they go to a competition for school in Grand Rapids in March!! :) ♥♥

  4. Reading your list makes my heart leap and cheer with JOY!!! I was determined one day to pay for someone's lunch in a drive through but it had to be a woman. Every time I drove through somewhere it was a man, so I kept going places (for over a week) until there was a woman behind me, I laughed so hard when I saw it was a co-worker! She loved it! Some of your ideas were Great and so inexpensive! Just a thoughtful note or moment can truly change a persons heart! Congratulations Friend!!!

  5. So LOVE LOVE this! You rock Leah! And so does God for giving you some wings and heart healed enough to bless others!