The tragedy that took place in Newtown, CT last Friday (12/14/12) has affected millions of people across the country and, indeed, the world. Our collective hearts were shattered that day as we watched the events unfold, dumbstruck at the senselessness of it all, and feeling helpless as to what to do. In the days since there has been a vast outpouring of sympathy and love from every corner of the globe, and many memorial events have taken place to honor and remember the 20 children and 6 adults that perished. We were fortunate enough to have attended one such service in our home town of Wallingford, which was attended by over 800 people including religious and civic leaders of all faiths and parties. Toy collections have been held that have resulted in, among other things, the donation of over 30,000 teddy bears and the delivery of an entire truckload of toys by one man from Louisiana to the town of Newtown. The response to this tragic and senseless event has been swift and heart warming, as people from all walks of life do their best to cope with the overwhelming sense of grief left by the passing of so many innocent souls.
But many people still find themselves asking, “What can I do?”. Ann Curry of NBC News thought about this and took to Twitter calling for people who wish to honor the memory of the Newtown victims to do 20 random acts of kindness, one for each of the children lost that day . The idea spread like wildfire and quickly grew to 26 acts of kindness to include the 6 adults, and thousands have joined the movement, tweeting, blogging and posting on Facebook about the acts of kindness they have done. Check out the 26 Acts of Kindness Facebook page HERE.
While the idea of random acts of kindness is not new, it is a perfect way for those who may be at a loss as to how they can help to spread some good will in the world and honor the memory of the victims of the Newtown shooting. If you’re up for it, I’m issuing the challenge to you now to get involved and perform your own 26 acts of kindness where you live. Need some ideas on what you can do? Take a look at these 26 suggestions, and tailor them to your own use:
- Surprise someone going grocery shopping by leaving a small treat in their cart.
- Serve at a soup kitchen in your neighborhood. You can find volunteer options at sites like DoSomething.org.
- Put a smile on a child’s face by donating a toy.
- Deliver something sweet to your local first responders.
- Share your knowledge by volunteering in the classroom. Organizations like United Way Worldwide can help match you with opportunities to become a volunteer reader, tutor or mentor.
- Thank your child’s teachers with a homemade gift or message.
- Donate to Sandy Hook relief. Many funds have been created in honor of the victims, such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund, which will be administered by the school PTA to provide counseling and pay for funeral expenses.
- Buy Newtown breakfast! You can reach out to a local business, like the Newton General Store, which has already received donations from people around the country to cover the meals of people in the town.
- Find a local blood drive or go to your local blood bank and donate. As the Red Cross says, “the need is constant.”
- Help someone stay warm this winter: Donate a coat, or hold a coat drive in your town to collect much-needed jackets. Organizations like One Warm Coat can help point you in the right direction.
- Keep helping victims of other tragedies, like those devastated in Hurricane Sandy. Here’s a list of organizations still working on relief efforts.
- Take good wishes global by helping out with international relief efforts. Non-profits like charity: water have opportunities to get involved with projects overseas.
- Donate your frequent flier miles to volunteers on their way to help, or send them to military families.
- Lend a hand – literally. Help someone with their groceries, mow someone’s lawn, shovel snow from their walk and driveways, weed their garden, rake their leaves. The possibilities are endless!
- Pay for the person behind you in the fast food drive-thru, and give the cashier a nice note to pass along to them.
- Surprise a family with free food.
- Thank those working to keep you safe.
- Spend some time with senior citizens – and bring your pet!
- Leave a nice note on a stranger’s car.
- Surprise a service member with a card. The Red Cross can help deliver your holiday mail for heroes.
- Get crafty! Find out if your local hospital accepts knit hats for newborns, or make them for organizations like Knots of Love which will donate them to cancer patients.
- Make a trip to the pump a little less painful for your fellow driver.
- Give a special tip to someone struggling.
- Share a meal with someone in need by donating to your local food bank. Feeding America can help you find one in your area.
- Say a nice thing to someone in a sour mood.
- Pass it on. Encourage others to spread some faith, love and goodwill, too!
These are just 26 of the many ways you can honor the memory of the 26 brave souls who died in Newtown, and at the same time make someone else feel good. Use them or feel free to do 26 totally different things, it’s up to you.
So, are you in? If so, post a comment below and, once you’ve completed your 26, come back and let us know! And please, continue to keep the town of Newtown in your prayers.