It’s been a rough year, folks. At times, 2016 has seemed more like an I’m-living-in-the-Twilight–Zone kind of bad dream than actual real life. But it’s times like these — when this country appears to be falling apart at the seams — that goodness can and will prevail.
We’re told in times of real tragedy to look for the helpers, and now it’s more important than ever to not just look for them, but to be them.
So this holiday season, do me a favor, will ya? Make a point of paying it forward some way, somehow. I’m not talking about huge monetary donations and week-long acts of volunteer service. I’m talking about simple, easy, even anonymous forms of loving gestures that may make all the difference in the world to a person’s day. And you never know where that may lead.
1. Babysit for a single mother so she can get holiday shopping and/or wrapping done.
2. If you’re shopping on Amazon for holiday gifts, use AmazonSmile. It’s a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop — at no cost to you.
3. Tip your waitress or waiter very, very generously, with a note saying, “Do good with this.”
4. Hang an elderly neighbor’s Christmas lights for them or trim their tree.
5. In the Starbucks drive-thru? Pay for the car behind you. Ask the barista to tell them, “Happy Holidays, and pay it forward.”
6. Let someone go in front of you at the grocery store and in traffic — again and again, and again.
7. Eat at family-owned local restaurants this season and leave positive reviews on Yelp.
8. Drop off a $25 grocery gift card at a food bank, forgoing dinner at your own home.
9. Making a lasagna? Make two, freeze one, and then surprise your kid’s school teacher with dinner.
10. Did you just get good service at a business or restaurant? Ask for the manager and tell them about that employee.
11. Drop off personal hygiene items and diapers at your local women’s shelter.
12. Bring good coffee beans to your local fire station.
13. See a car in a parking lot with a veteran’s license plate? Leave a handwritten note on the windshield thanking them for their service.
14. Encourage a special needs parent. See one out in public? Stop and compliment them on their patience and dedication.
15. Actually complete the survey on your sales receipt if you had a good shopping or dining experience. Often, employees will get cash bonuses.
16. Leave your finished magazine or book on public transportation with a note on the cover stating,“Read and pass it on.”
17. Find a charity’s public wish list on Amazon and buy something they need.
18. Smile big at 10 strangers a day. Just do it.
19. Leave a positive comment on an article on Facebook — positive.
20. Have a minivan? Offer to be the designated driver at the office holiday party.
21. Donate $1. Ever hear the phrase “Would you like to donate a dollar to…?” at the checkout? Don’t think twice. Do it. What comes around goes around.
22. Have unused or outgrown youth sports equipment cluttering the garage? Bring it to your local boys and girls club or Big Brothers Big Sisters.
23. Clean out your closet. If you haven’t worn it in six months, it’s getting donated. Period.
24. Going to the grocery store? Ask the mom down the street if you can pick up anything for her.
25. Have a service worker, repairman, lawn care person, or handyman at your house? Offer them a drink, a snack, and use of the bathroom.
26. Contact local charities and ask them about volunteer opportunities. Sign up. Take your kids with you!
The world is changed one act — and one person — at a time, so don’t hesitate anymore to do good. Swap out anger and frustration with peace and positivity. Our world needs it more than ever before.