Stories from the EveryDay Acts of Kindness Project
In 1999, the Foundation solicited stories from people around the world. The only criteria were that they be acts of kindness, large or small.
Walk to Cure Diabetes
The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation "Walk for the Cure' is the fastest growing walkathon program in the world. In Canada, the 1999 Shoppers Walk for the Cure takes place in 26 cities from coast to coast. More than 60,000 walkers are expected to pound the pavement in support of diabetes research, and raise in excess of $5 million.
Every year my parents' corporation gets involved in this fund-raiser and I thought it was a perfect way to start my lifelong pledge to helping others. Five of us turned out: we raised $150 and learned about this terrible disease. My parents decided to leave their pledge chart up year round and advertise better to get more of a turn out in future years. I have also volunteered to be a Big Sister.
Thanks to all the Angels that have inspired people over the years to achieve their goals and work towards their dreams!
Erin B., Canada
Australia's 40 Hour Famine
I volunteered for the Australian 40 Hour Famine project, and from 8:00 Friday night I couldn't eat anything except barley sugar, fruit juice and tea. We could skip TV or talking, but I doubt the kids in the third world countries would know what TV's like, so it would be a bit useless. By the end of it, I was very proud of doing it. Very hungry, but very ecstatic. Thanks mum, dad, Sanah, Ben, Natalie and Lance for the donations and thanks Jewel and the EveryDay Angels for inspiring me to do this.
Jennifer T., Australia
Currently doing my last year of high school, I am a blood donor, and involved in Community Aid Abroad fundraising activities, such as the Walk Against Want and the 40 Hour Famine. I am also about to join a Peer Support program, to reduce stress and suicide levels amongst high school students. Where I live is also really close to one of the camps for the Kosovo refugees in Puckapunyal, so I went through all my old things and donated the ones I no longer needed. Doing things like this makes me feel like I can make a difference, no matter how small. If what I'm doing can help even one person, it brings me hope that something can be done.
Bec S., Australia
Repairing Homes in the Appalachians
Last summer I went with my Parish youth group to help rebuild homes of the less fortunate through ASP (Appalachian Service Project), which is located in the Appalachian mountains in the Tennessee and West Virginia area. My group worked with a woman named Penny who lived by herself in a beat up trailer home. The roof was almost caved in and it probably would not have lasted another winter.
In the course of a week my group of 15 worked night and day to build the new roof. It took us four days to complete which gave us just enough time to repaint her trailer blue (her favorite color), and make a rock garden with all the rocks she had enjoyed collecting since childhood.
At first Penny was skeptical about letting a bunch of inexperienced teens try to fix her home. She thought it would turn out worse than when we started — the only things she had heard about teens were the negative things on TV and in the paper. Our group not only fixed her roof, but also restored her faith in teenagers.
We also learned that not everyone is as lucky as we are to have a roof over our heads that does not creak and leak. God has truly blessed us with all of the luxuries we take for granted each day.
Jake S., St Louis, MO
Clothing Donations Across the Globe
I donated clothing to people from Amazonas-Brazil. My friend traveled there to visit and gave my donation to people in need. When she got back from the trip she told me that they were very, very happy when they received the clothes. :) It feels good to donate clothes, but it feels even better to know that your act of kindness helped people and made them happy! I always try to help people; be it teaching something I know, or smiling at someone to make them smile back. It's important for people to know that they can make a difference in someone's life just by doing little acts of kindness, and that we can have a better world with less people in need.
Juliane S., Brazil
I've rummaged though my wardrobe and threw unneeded clothes in a big box and sent it off to church for donation. I'm sure it will be well used seeing that the winter is upon South Africa.
Koos van Z., South Africa
Walking in Another's Shoes
I visited the local Chattanooga Community Kitchen with eight other students and a teacher. We went expecting to make some food, give it out and be done with it. Boy, does God have a way of showing us how things don't always go as planned! We got there around 1:00 and there was already another group there starting the food, so someone said they would let us work on the shoes. That sounded easy enough. It was all fine until one of the homeless volunteers said "you mean you're sending them to the dungeon?!?"
So they take us down to this deep, dark, mildewed basement with the worst smell I have ever been exposed to. The only light is from a few florescent bulbs. We are walking on wooden crates because the place floods when it rains. Our job is to sort through boxes of used shoes, pair them up, and rebox them. We also find out that we are under the direction of two 20 year olds doing their community service in lieu of jail time.
Needless to say, our attitude wasn't at its highest at this point. Now that I look back on this, if I had it to do all over again, I would still do it, and I will probably go back. Sure, we had to touch plenty of nasty shoes, but there are people that are going to be happy to have these shoes in third world countries.
The thing that touched me the most was a homeless man we met there. He was from Nashville, and he travels around the state volunteering at these places. It really made me think, if I was in that situation, would I be willing to serve? This guy could have easily said, "look what God has let happen to me." But he doesn't pity himself, he uses his situation to serve others. He could easily take the free food, but he works for it. What an example!
It also made me realize how much God has blessed me. I take for granted everyday what I have. I even wish I had more sometimes. And then you realize there are people lining up for free meals, and people that will be happy with a used pair of shoes just to keep their feet warm. So I went thinking "I'm going to help these people, boy aren't I great, I'm lending a helping hand..." and I left having learned something. I feel that I received a blessing, instead of giving one. I encourage anyone that has a chance to do some volunteer work, it is really an experience you will never forget!
Giving Back to the Community
In my middle school, I am in a community service group that meets every Wednesday. Every two weeks we go to a local nursing home and do many activities with the senior citizens there: we have played Bingo together, planted flowers and made quilts. My group has also delivered peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to a local homeless shelter, and held a Hygiene Kit drive for homeless people (we'd ask our classmates to donate toothbrushes, soap, and things like that and we made them into kits). All of these projects have been successful, and that gives me joy and happiness because I realize I am helping someone!
Connecting with Another Generation
I have been involved in community service projects for the past four years and each one has made me feel special. I designed a project for the Key Club (an extracurricular community service club) to make over 100 chocolate-covered lollipops and hand deliver them to a nursing home in the area.
Visiting these amazing people was probably one of the greatest experiences of my life. Each of their faces lit up when they saw us, not just because we were giving them handmade chocolate, but because teenagers were taking time to visit with them.
Each of them was filled with knowledge that they willingly shared with us. As we spent time with these people, I became fond of one man in particular, who told us many stories, danced with us, and jumped at the opportunity to take photos with us.
When I left there, I realized that I had experienced something special. I even felt that my presence somewhat helped in rejuvenating these people and bringing back memories of their youth. These people shared stories with me and they wanted to hear my stories. Each of them now have a special place in my heart, and I will never forget that day. I also realize that you can never stop helping others.
Jordana S., New Jersey
Down Under at Planet Laidley Edmund Rice Camps
I participate in the Edmund Rice Camps, whose mission is to take disadvantaged kids out of their everyday lives for one week and let them experience an environment of fun, support and unconditional love. It is incredible. The kids range in age from 7-14, and for every child there is a "big buddy" that's us older ones (17-24).
It is our job to be positive role models for the children, something they may not have much exposure to in their family lives and to make sure they have the best week imaginable, basically to be their best friend for a week. It really is inspiring, not just to see the transformation in some of these kids, but to see the love complete strangers are willing to give to these children to help make their lives a little more special. No description of what camp does can do the experience justice. It is something that must be participated in to really understand the full impact of what it means to be surrounded by beauty — "I have this theory that if we are surrounded by beauty, one day we will become what we see."
It is more then just giving up your time for a week. It is about teaching a child how special they are, and that they will always be loved. These kids may not get that support at home. Each child is a miracle and they are never told that enough. Edmund Rice Camps have changed my life.
Erin L., Australia
I work with physically disabled children through an organization called Youth Challenge. I started volunteering for this organization last fall. I had never worked with disabled children before but I wanted to try something new. The children are great to work with and I have learned so much from them. They have a different view on life, are very down to earth and fun to be with. I genuinely enjoy being in their company. Through these experiences I have learned many new things, met some great people, and learned how to cherish every moment in life. I will continue to work with these children throughout the summer and the years to come.
Helping Teens Stay on Track
I attend Bradley University and at the end of the year my floor had alot of leftover food and instead of throwing it out we got it all together and donated it to a local soup kitchen. I am also involved in "Operation Snowball," a drug and alcohol prevention group program geared toward high school students. As a part of the adult staff, my job is to help the teens through their hard times. I am there for them when I am needed. Its a good place for kids to go to stay out of trouble and off the streets.
Jessica W., Schererville
EDA Blood Donors Give of Themselves
This April I decided to donate blood. Just a month earlier I had turned 17, just old enough to donate, and since I was helping out at the donation site, I thought it would be good to give blood as well. Afterward I stayed aroiund to help out with other donors.
The next day the shootings at Columbine High School happened, and as I watched the medics bring bags of blood I thought, "Wow, I just donated blood." I guess you never know when people may be in need of blood, whether it's a stranger or a family member. I know that this is something I'll regularly be able to help out with. There are shortages all the time, and my blood is always ready to be used if needed.
Amy P., New Jersey
I have volunteered to do filing for the admin staff at the hospital. It's basically the first major work I've done for someone without getting paid. Last week I heard that a girl who moved to my city in April had been admitted into the hospital. I wasn't sure if she knew anyone in the area, so I decided to pay her a visit, armed with roses and an hour of my time (despite the fact that I barely even knew her name). I'm glad I did go; she spent most of the hour talking and unloading her troubles. It turned out that she had family problems (divorce and alcohol), her dad was in hospital too, all on top of the fact that she had to move and start over here in Pretoria.
I'm really glad that I could provide the shoulder she obviously needed... her situation made me realize that I should be thankful for that that I do have, rather than complaining about what I don't have.
Koos van Z., South Africa
Angels on Horseback
I volunteer at a nonprofit called "Handicapped and Horses", where disabled children come to a designated ranch to ride horses. I go on Wednesdays after school to groom and saddle the horses, then teach the program participants basic skills to maintaining a horse. We do laps around the ring, walking on the side of the horse to make sure the kids don't fall off. We sometimes do therapeutic exercises to stretch the kids' muscles while on horseback. Whoa — what a rewarding experience! It's all very worthwhile when you go home knowing you helped brighten their day... even just a little.
Tarah L., Florida
Horses for the Handicapped
I am friends with a woman who just started this nonprofit called "Horses for the Handicapped," and I saw it as a fun way to earn community service hours. I've worked with the handicapped a lot. For the past three years in a row I have been a volunteer at the Special Olympics. The kids are great, and I love working with them. I think this new experience will be even better.
Committing Acts of Everyday Kindness in Your Own Backyard
I wasn't quite sure how I was going to add anything to this scrapbook, but I think that's one of the points of the project. I had to use my head and be more conscious of what I was doing, or going to do, to be kinder. And *gasp*... it works. First , I decided to give all of my childhood stuffed animals (OK, most of them it's hard to let go, even though I'm 16) to the childcare program at my church, which may give a kid a smile on their face well worth it.
I then decided to clean my closet out and take some of my old clothes to the local Goodwill.
Next, since I'm on my school's student senate, I've taken up the task of seeing if my school can volunteer at Community Kitchen next year, which is a nonprofit that helps people who don't know where they're going to get their next meal.
Perhaps the smallest but most rewarding thing of all, I've made a point of telling those people around me that they're appreciated and that the world is a better place because they're here people like to be told those things. It's beautiful to see the smiles of the people you talk to, or the way their eyes light up. I'm also pledging time to continue this. I plan to volunteer at my local Humane Society this summer.
What have I gotten from this? Well, besides self-satisfaction and the knowledge that I'm helping out — there's hope. It's extraordinary to think that all of these people care, and that the world is a better place because of it. So, that's what it all comes down to... life is beautiful!
Nik P., Iowa
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