The worst part of our household financial recovery plan is that the tight budget leaves very little for giving. After paying basic bills and feeding and clothing everyone, our charity dollars are scarce. We’ve tried to volunteer our time to make up for some but there are still instances I would just love to be able to help out financially.
When Yahoo! approached about their Ripple of Kindness Program, I was all over it.
They sent me a check for $100 to spread the kindness in hopes that the good I did would spread as far as ripples on water. A funny thing happened though, I was paralyzed with indecision. The weight of this responsibility was so heavy that the money sat for a couple weeks. I read about women buying gift cards and handing them out in front of stores. I heard about someone who paid a woman’s medical copay as they were in line at the eye doctor. Someone else sent an entire class to a holiday play and another took her family to stealthily pay for gas. These women were making it hard to escape my high expectation paralyzation.
The good news is, in researching where to give, I discovered amazing programs like Kiva and Pro Mujer which I will continue to give to forever but chose not to use Yahoo! money for because they weren’t random acts. I also learned it doesn’t take much. Handing out $5 Starbucks’ cards to cold citizens can have just as high a kindness quotient as $100 to a food bank.
So, that’s exactly what I decided to do, purchase some gift cards and take my kids to hand them out in front of the stores hoping our ripples would spread far and wide.
Then I heard a story. A beloved teacher at my son’s preschool has spent her Tuesdays for the last few months taking the train (2 hours) into NYC to sit at the bedside of her infant granddaughter while she has chemotherapy treatments for retinoblastoma. Yes, this tiny baby has cancer in her eye and this wonderful woman has to go and watch the treatment for it. Not to mention she has to watch her son and daughter in law fight for their baby’s life. Can you imagine? All those tear inducing St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital commercials came rushing to me. This woman was living my worst fear, but as the grandma she was doing it twice: watching her baby and her baby’s baby in pain.
This teacher, who I haven’t known long but love all the same was soldiering on at her regular job every day except those when she was at the hospital. She just kept sharing her huge heart and asking for nothing in return. That is her style. My natural inclination would be to reach out and do something for her. In the past, my finances precluded any grand gestures. Not this time. I decided Yahoo’s kindness should be extended to her as a way to take care of someone who was doing such a great job of taking care of everyone else.
I made up a basket of pampering and practical items like massaging socks, hand sanitizer, a sleep mask so she could catch some rest on the train home. There were word puzzle books, hand creme I know she loves but will never buy herself. There were mints and trail mix. Everything I could think of that might make her life a teensy bit easier or bring even a second of joy, I shoved in that basket. I left it with the school Director and that was that.
Then the Director found me as I was working in a classroom one morning and asked me to deliver the basket myself. I wanted to be somewhat anonymous, but I’m so glad I wasn’t allowed. The look on her face, the relief, pleasure and overwhelming gratitude was more than I could take. We both cried and hugged and caused a scene in front of the children. It was amazing. She was clearly so touched that we thought of her and just knowing we were all on their team during this time was enough to boost her-even for a little while.
It may not have been random. It may not have been for many, but this ripple of kindness will go on and on because it was shared with someone whose very nature ensures it’s future.
Thank you Yahoo! for providing the means to do what I couldn’t have done-no matter how strong the desire in my heart.
Now it’s your turn. Where are you going to spread your ripples? I’ve been so inspired, we’re still going out to pass out gift cards and of course there’s always Kiva and Pro Mujer. It doesn’t take a lot to make a big difference!
You can share your ripples at kindness.yahoo.com and please, let us know here. We love to hear the kindness!
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.