CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

March 12, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness: Pass Them Forward


CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS: PASS THEM FORWARD

     Displays of “random acts of kindness” are making the news lately.

     In reviewing materials in my files when I found an article I’d written about children in a summer program doing random acts of kindness. They were participating in a Summer Fun Fest sponsored by the Jamestown (Pennsylvania) Family Support program in the mid-1990s. The program was designed around the theme of “giving,” the gift being something made by the child.

     The first week the children made something to give their parents.

     During the next three weeks, groups of children, accompanied by adult leaders, walked around town, stopping at randomly chosen houses, offering gifts.  They were learning to give gifts to people “just because you are a child of God.” The gifts, including plants, love boxes, prayer rocks, yardsticks, and weather-tellers, were given to recipients whose names were taken at random from the telephone book, then placed in a basket to be drawn by the children.

     Gifts were left on the doorsteps, with the program name attached, where no one was at home. Some persons refused the gift, while most received it graciously.

     During the fifth and sixth weeks, the children’s gifts were compliments to each other. The $28.00 worth of pennies they received for each gift-compliment was donated to missions work.

     One Jamestown Family Support Program member, I’ll call him Jim, had limited ability, but loved to cook. On numerous occasions, the Family Support Program supplied him with materials to prepare dinner for three families. The families had to be pre-notified—our initial lesson was that in our suspicious world, receivers of this gift needed to know its source or they’d toss it into the garbage.

     These activities bring to mind another childhood giving activity.

     It the spring semester exam time at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.  About ten children participating in the Holland Child Care Home decorated t-shirts for identification, then gathered candy, gum, and balloons. During change of class time, they marched through the campus, offering these gifts to students.

     The result was interesting: students rejected the children’s gifts, because, they said, “I can’t take candy from a child.”

     As the adult leaders, I could see devastation on the faces of the children. I directed them to the science building, where my husband taught physics. We entered his classroom and the students graciously followed our adult chaperone’s encouragement, and accepted the gifts. The day was saved.

     Giving is circular. These givers give from their hearts. The recipients were in the position of giving, too—by joyously accepting their gift.

     When you have the opportunity, offer a gift—sometimes, it is only a gift of yourself, your presence—and I use the word only with misgiving, because the gift of self it the greatest gift of all.  

     And remember not to let pride be the interference in your receiving a gift, because in the receiving you are giving.

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ADDITIONAL READING:

CHILDISH CHARACTERISTICS

GENERATIONS OF BLESSINGS #26

IS THIS “CHEERS?”

BUSY—I’M SO BUSY!!! Lent Devotion #28

Characteristics of healthy families

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