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Kindness Ideas

Distribute these lists among your community for simple ideas of how to use your smile cards! You can also hold discussion groups to brainstorm about additional ideas and ways to involve the entire community in your Acts of Kindness.

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Kindness Ideas by Theme

Communities & Neighborhoods
The Environment

More Detailed Ideas Here

Kindness in Communities/Neighborhoods

• Deliver fresh-baked cookies to city workers.
• Collect goods for a food bank.
• Offer a couple of hours of baby-sitting to parents.
• Volunteer at an agency that needs help.
• Donate time at a senior center.
• Give blood.
• Stop by a nursing home, and visit a resident with no family nearby.
• Leave a treat or handmade note of thanks for a delivery person or mail carrier.
• Clean graffiti from neighborhood walls and buildings.
• Have a clean-up party in the park.
• Give toys to the children at the shelter or safe house.
• Write something nice about your waitperson on the back of the bill.
• Send a gift anonymously to a friend.
• Organize a clothing drive for a shelter.
• Buy books for a day care or school.
• Slip a $20 bill to a person who you know is having financial difficulty.
• Collaborate with friends to bake cakes and pies, and arrange with a soup kitchen to deliver the desserts for Thanksgiving dinner.
• Roll an elderly neighbor.s garbage cans back up the driveway at the end of trash pick-up day.
• Purchase a copy of a book about kindness, put a smile card in the middle, and pass it on.
• Pay the toll for the person behind you.
• Shovel your neighbor.s driveway or mow their lawn.
• Stop to help someone on the side of the road with car trouble.
• If a friend or a neighbor is moving, offer to bring food.
• After loading your groceries into the car, return your shopping cart.
• Collect personal care items, new underwear, and socks for homeless shelters and safe houses.

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Kindness at Workplace

• Take flowers to work and share them with coworkers.
• Write a note to the boss of someone who has helped you, praising the employee.
• Leave enough money in the vending machine for the next person to get a free treat. (Tape the change and a smile card tag to the machine)
• Have a food drive, ask employees to bring nonperishable food items to donate to food bank.
• Get to work before others and leave a piece of candy, brownie, fruit, flower, etc. at every desk attached with a Smile card.
• Leave a cake or other food item in a central area anonymously with a Thank-You note.
• Appreciate a co-worker by giving them a gift of service; For example, instead of a tie for birthday or Christmas, sponsor a cataract surgery in a developing country. Attach a note explaining how their gift affects someone else.s life.
• Gather a group of your colleagues and take them to a fundraiser.
• Email an article about an act of kindness to your group every week. (For examples, see www.helpothers.org)
• Give your manager or co-worker a thought-provoking book.
• Print an inspiring story and put it on your work bulletin board.
• Buy a cup of coffee or snack for someone who.s having a long day.

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Kindness in Schools/Youth Organizations

• Ask students to perform a Random Act of Kindness for a stranger and then write an essay describing the experience . how it made them feel and the reaction of the person who received their kindness.
• Send home a note telling parents something their child did well.
• Create a special publication of RAK featuring local kindness stories. These can be broadcast over the school intercom.
• Help serve dinner at local soup kitchen.
• Have your class make and distribute kindness bookmarks.
• Ask student to pick someone who has done something nice for them and write a thank you note.
• Have a food or clothing drive for a shelter.
• Hold a teddy bear drive and donate the bears to police or fire departments for traumatized children or a shelter.
• Make and decorate Halloween/Christmas cookies and deliver them to a children.s home or family shelter.
• With your class, organize an ice cream social, a tea, or a bingo event for residents at an assisted living center. Bake sweets or assemble root beer floats for the residents, and stay and visit.
• Have each student write a positive comment about every student in their class on 3x5 cards or paper. Make a collage with the cards or let them keep it as a reminder.
• Provide time for students to start a kindness journal in which they can keep their own kindness stories, pictures, ideas or feelings about Random Acts of Kindness.
• Ask the students to pick two people who have done something nice for them. Have them write letters of appreciation, explaining how those people have made a difference in their life.
• Meet with senior citizens and record their memories of the community when they were growing up. Compare their likes and dislikes with those of young people today. Compare prices from then to now. This is a good excuse to learn from the elders and also spend time with them.
• Study kind people in history. Then have kids illustrate their kind works and discuss how their chosen path affected the world.
• Adopt another student who needs a friend, checking in periodically to see how things are going.
• Write notes of appreciation and take flowers or goodies for you teacher, custodian, principal, or secretary.) • Write a note to your mother/father and tell them why they are special.
• Send a letter to some former teachers, letting them know the difference they made in your life.
• Send a gift anonymously to a friend.
• Surprise someone in your house with breakfast in bed.
• Make a birdbath from a plastic dish and put it in your yard or on the windowsill. Keep it filled with water. • Talk to younger children about why catching wild creatures like frogs and turtles is not a good idea. Remind them that wild animals need to stay wild and free.
• Place a flower in your neighbors. newspaper without them seeing it.

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Kindness at Home

• Have each member of your family choose someone outside the family who has made a positive difference in his or her life. Write short thank-you notes, and mail the letters together.
• Bake cookies together, and take them to a neighbor who needs a lift.
• Pitch in and clean up the yard of a neighbor who is ill, has had surgery recently, or has had a family emergency.
• Volunteer with your children to help at a soup kitchen.
• Leave a bouquet of flowers on a neighbor.s front step anonymously.
• Start a Family Kindness Journal, about kind acts both given and received, and create a family scrapbook. If you have photos, include them with the stories. As years go by and as your children grow, all of you can review the many ways that kindness has touched your family.s life.
• As a house-warming gift for a new neighbor, ask others to pick their favorite quote to write in a nice book. • Clean up litter on a stretch of road in your neighborhood.
• Surprise your wife/husband with breakfast in bed.
• Include a note or joke in your child or spouse.s lunchbox.
• Call your mom just to say, .Hello..
• When you.re out of town, have your friend drop off a home-cooked meal for your wife.
• Collect inspiring quotes and write them in a nice journal to give them as gifts to your family members.
• Place a flower in your neighbors. newspaper without them seeing it.
• Arrange a conference call for the entire family.

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Kindness to Animals

• Adopt a homeless pet from the humane society.
• Call an animal shelter and find out what donations they need. Collect treats, food, first aid supplies, toys, cat litter, towels, and soft blankets for the homeless animals.
• Make a birdbath from a plastic dish and put it in your yard or on the windowsill. Keep it filled with water. • Maintain water bowls during cold months for both migrating and local birds. Make birdseed available as well. • Notify authorities immediately about pets left in hot cars. You may save a life.
• Talk to younger children about why catching wild creatures like frogs and turtles is not a good idea. Remind them that wild animals need to stay wild and free.
• Offer to wash your dog or a neighbor.s dog.
• Make nutritional treats for dogs and cats, and give them to neighbors for their pets. Make extra for animal shelters.
• Hold a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to an animal shelter or wildlife fund
• .Adopt. a lion, tiger, whale, or other animal. Many zoos, aquariums, and animal sea habitats have adoption programs. In exchange for financial support, you get a photo and biography of your new adoptee.

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Kindness to Environment

• Plant a tree in your neighborhood.
• Donate soda tabs or cans to a local organization that can turn them in to raise funds.
• Participate in beach cleanups to remove debris that can harm birds, sea turtles, and other beach creatures.
Clean up trash and refrain from littering.
• Keep your neighborhood looking great by promoting a regular neighborhood cleanup day for homeowners. • To reduce air pollution, consider these options instead of driving: carpooling, taking public transportation, biking, or walking.
• Recycle all aluminum, plastic, newspapers, papers, etc.
• Cut down on the energy you use by lowering the heat and turning off lights, TV, etc., when you are not using them.
• As gifts, give houseplants to teachers, friends, or coworkers.

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Acts of Anonymous Kindness

• Leave a bouquet of flowers on a neighbor.s front step.
• Slip a $20 (or whatever you can afford) bill to a person who you know is having financial difficulty.
• Select some people in your life who you feel need a special lift and send them a gift: flowers, tickets to a special event, or a gift certificate.
• Leave enough money in the vending machine for the next person to get a free treat.
• Purchase a copy of a book about kindness, read it, and pass it on.
• Pay the toll for the person behind you.
• Write something nice about your waitperson on the back of the bill.
• Send a gift anonymously to a friend.
• Get to work before others and leave a piece of candy, brownie, fruit, flower, etc. at every desk attached with a Smile card.
• Place a flower in your neighbor.s newspaper.
• Do an art project and leave it around town.

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Detailed Kindness Ideas

Help the Homeless

Donate your professional clothes to an organization that helps people get back into the workforce. Give gently worn home furnishings or household appliances to a person or family who might need them or donate them to an organization. Take warm clothes, blankets or food to a homeless person that you often cross paths with. Donate toys and books to a homeless organization. Toys and books are just as important to kids as food and shelter. When shopping, buy a couple extra non-perishable food items and take them to a food drive or pantry. Make an extra serving of dinner and bring it to a homeless person in your neighborhood.

Valentine's Day in September

Don't wait until February to recognize the impact they make in your life. Celebrate Valentine's Day in September! Do an act of kindness for them today. Write a note of appreciation and leave it for them to find. Leave work early and spend time together. Take them out to dinner at their favorite restaurant. Do an extra errand around the house and leave a smile card. Surprise them with something that they've been wanting for a while.

Lend a Hand to All Parents

Baby sit. Deliver a cooked meal for the entire family. Let their children spend the day with you or have an "overnight" with your children. Run an errand for them. Give them a night out on the town (meal, movie, etc.). Volunteer to pick the children up from school. Offer help with homework or tutor a child that is having trouble at school. Take a parent out to dinner at their favorite place.

Reach Out to the Homebound

Reach out to the homebound -- seniors, ill or incapacitate children or caregivers committed to caring for their family members at home. Connect them to communication resources like radio, TV or Internet so they can stay connected to the world at large. Find a good-news story in the media and email them regularly. Tag them with an inspiring book. Offer to bring them books from the library. Share 'smile stories' you've read in this newsletter. Help them take care of their pets. Convince a beautician or barber to make a house-call. Buy them nice stationary so they write appreciative notes to those they are grateful for.

Crafts of Kindness

Ask a creative crafter to help you with acts of kindness. Knit a hat for a homeless person this winter. Crochet a table cloth for a family that just moved into the neighborhood. Hand-craft some jewelry for women at a battered women's shelter. Bake cookies to celebrate someone's achievement. Setup a cooperative community art gallery for the work of seniors, school children or veterans. Prepare a magnificent dinner for your local firemen. Create a photo frame of your best friend's pet and leave it outside his/her door with a smile card. Give scrap booking lessons and materials for underprivileged children.

Corporate Compassion

Plant seeds of kindness in the corporate world. Find the office of your CEO and leave a thank-you card with a smile card. Setup a 'Christmas in Summer' volunteer event and invite all your co-workers to it. Leave some cookies at the coffee station with a hand-made 'smile, help yourself, pay-it-forward' sign. Learn about your employee-matching program and tell your colleagues about your favorite charity. Place extra money in the company vending machine and tape a smile card next to it.

Gift of Generosity

Next time you give a gift, deliver it in a context of generosity. On your friend's birthday, sponsor an eye surgery for a blind person in a developing country; sponsor a well where clean water is scarce; donate to local charity. Frame an inspirational quote as a gift; buy two identical gifts and pay-forward one of them with a letter explaining the kind act; tag someone with a smile card act and share the story as a gift to your best friend. For a baby-shower, get audio excerpts of motherhood advice from moms you admire; for a bridal shower, survey old couples in your neighborhood for marriage advice. Give someone a nice journal of kindness, where they can write their reflections of generosity.

Healing Kindness

Express kindness to those who are healing. Leave a stuffed animal for a child in a hospital. Plant a tree to commemorate someone coming out of a long illness. Run a race to help fund research for a fatal disease. Tag a cancer patient with a book about a heroic recovery. Volunteer at a hospice for the terminally ill. Listen to a friend who is going through a tough time.

Long Distance Kindness

Reach out to far away lands, with long distance kindness. Ask your penpal to do something kind in his/her local community. Email your distant family member to have a conversation with the homeless and write to you about it. Call up a friend in another state to tag another friend with a smile card. When you are traveling, inscribe the inside jacket of a book with your favorite quote and your home city ... and leave it in a public place.

Honor Your Heroes

Honor your heroes with kindness. Dedicate a small act of kindness to your hero by writing them a letter about your experience. Find your favorite elementary school teacher and send him/her some 'thank-you' flowers anonymously. Get a 'just because' gift for your dad even when it isn't Father's Day. Tell the story of your hero to a young child. At your next family gathering, have everyone share each other's heroes. In honor of your pet, volunteer at a local animal shelter.

Kindness Towards Environment

Practice kindness towards the environment. Participate in beach or park cleanups. Reduce air pollution by carpooling, taking public transportation, biking, or walking. Recycle all aluminum, plastic, and paper materials. Cut down on the energy you use by lowering the heat and turning off lights and unused appliances. Learn more about solar energy. As gifts, give houseplants to teachers, friends, or coworkers. Plant a tree in your neighborhood.

Globs of Gratitude

Appreciate someone who has done something kind for you. Send a 'Thank You' card to someone who's helped you when you really needed it. Write a letter to an old teacher who influenced your life. Call your grandparents or parents and let them know how they've impacted your life. Email a friend to thank them for being there for you through hardships. Send an e-card to your husband or wife to tell them how much you appreciate having them in your life.

Five Bucks and Under

What can you do with five bucks to make someone's day? Tape the exact change for a soda to a vending machine or a payphone. Pay the toll for the person behind you. Leave flowers in front of someone's house. Bake cookies for your neighbors. Put quarters in the laundry machine for the next person. Send cards with beautiful messages to anonymous people. Leave chocolate on the desk of your co-workers. Treat someone to a cup of their favorite coffee.

Spring Forward

Clean out your closet and take the extra clothes to a local nonprofit organization. If you have flowers blooming in your yard, leave some in your neighbor's newspaper, mailbox or front porch. Keep some cold water bottles in your car, and give them to city workers that may be working hard in the sun. Take a child (or an adult) out for their first ice cream for the summer. Go to a local farm, pick up some summer fruits like mangoes or watermelon and invite your friends over.

Community Kindness

Appreciate a community worker. Give a thank-you card to a bus driver who is driving off-peak hours, personally thank the janitor who keeps your campus clean, tell a police officer that you appreciate his work for the community, send flowers to a local teacher who has dedicated her life to children.

Tag the Ones Closest

Do something kind for those closest to you. Give your housemate a hug in the morning, for no reason. Help your mother, brother, father, or sister with something that they would not expect you to do. Leave a flower in your brother or sister's room. Spend some time with your grandparents. Make breakfast for your partner. Call your parents just to say 'Hello'.

Public Transportation

Before you get off the bus or train, leave an inspiring book on a seat with a Smile Card. Give a flower to the bus driver or anyone else that looks like they can use it. Leave a nice CD with a smile card. Offer gum or candy to the person sitting next to you. Give your seat to the elderly or mothers with children if it's crowded. Help people find their way if they look lost. Write a card with a beautiful quote or a blessing and leave it on your seat for someone to find.

Lending an Ear

Sometimes kindness is as simple as listening. Lend an ear to someone going through a tough time. Next time you ask someone, 'How are you?' listen fully to the response. Learn about the latest in hearing aid technology and share it with a nonprofit organization serving the deaf. Actively listen to your friends without judging. Visit a nursing home and listen to stories of a senior who doesn't get any visitors. Spend some time in silence, listen to your heart and follow it.

Connect with Seniors

Connect with seniors in your community. Visit senior centers or nursing homes. Walk or visit with a senior that you know. Help the seniors at a grocery store. Read to an elderly. Prepare a special meal or dessert for nursing home residents. Find safety information from firefighters and police and share those tips with seniors living alone. Send a nice card to an elderly who's been an influence in your life.

Public Places

Beautify public places in your community. Clean graffiti on public walls. Have a clean-up party at a park. Volunteer with your local environmental group to plant a tree. Adopt a beach. Decorate your front porch with art.

Family Kindness

Surprise your family with an act of kindness. Send flowers (or a plant) to your mom or dad. Have each member of your family choose someone outside the family who has made a positive difference in their lives. Write short thank-you notes, and mail the letters together. If you have children, take them to volunteer at a soup-kitchen in your neighborhood. Anonymously tag your brother or sister with a gift that you know they've wanted for a while.

Hear the Homeless

It's been a long winter. Make some soup or sandwich for a homeless person in your neighborhood and deliver it to them with a smile. Stop and have a conversation with a homeless person. Find out how they're doing. Collect clothes from family and friends and take them to your closest shelter. Collect food cans and take them to a food bank.

Gift of Books

Never underestimate the power of books to expand minds. Give an inspiring book to a friend in need. Encourage children to do a reading drive for a charity of their choice -- people donate money for every book they read this summer. Subscribe an officemate to your favorite magazine. Leave a good book in a public place with a smile card. Forward an inspiring article to your email addressbook. Instead of going out to a movie, go to a coffee shop with your favorite book. Donate your unused books to your local library.

Volunteer Wonders

Volunteering often provides a good opportunity to be exposed to people who may be in need of an anonymous act of kindness in their lives. Go volunteer at a local nonprofit. Become a mentor for a child. Support your local art groups. Help read at a prison. Build a home with Habitat for Humanity. Spend time at senior community. Visit an animal shelter.

Restaurant Uproar

Tag someone at a restaurant. Buy someone dessert. Pay for the person behind you at a drive-thru. Pick up the tab of a random table at a restaurant and ask the cashier to pass on the smile card (after you leave). If you're a parent, have your child write a thank-you note for the waitress. Pick up flowers at the grocery store and after you check out, give them to the cashier or the bagger with a big smile and a smile card.

Kindness with Children

Get children excited about kindness. Have a child deliver a hand-made card to your neighbor. Gather up kids in your neighborhood and take 'em to a local orphanage or shelter to deliver some balloons and cookies. Ask a child to share or give one of his/her toys. Bake brownies with a youngster and have them pass it on to the mail-man or janitor, with a thank-you note. Suggest some kindness ideas to a school teacher. Spread the word!

Halloween Happiness

Volunteer to take a child trick-or-treating. Teach a kid about safety while out at night; give them a flashlight. Leave your porch light turned 'on' so the children can see the pathway and can be seen by the street traffic. Buy or help make a Halloween costume for a deserving or underprivileged child. Take the extra candy for your office co-workers the day after Halloween. Have your kids make cupcakes for your neighbors, in appreciation for their support on Halloween.

Flowers of Kindness

Send unexpected bouquet of flowers to the hard-working receptionist in your office building. Plant some flowers in your front-yard. Give the gift of flower seeds at the next celebration you host. When you receive one too many bouquets after an event, leave one anonymously on your neighbor's doorstep with a personalized note. Walk down to your local city hall and hand a flower to everyone standing in the marriage registration line. Take a child to a mall to give a "just because" flower to the five elders, with a heartfelt "have a nice day" greeting.

The Small Things

Share your umbrella with someone who doesn't have one. Write a thank-you note to a mentor or someone who has influenced your life in a positive way. Always say please, thank you, and you're welcome with a smile; you'll get it back! Leave an extra big tip for a friendly waiter or waitress. Defend others. Speak up when you hear someone use a racist remark, whether it's a family member, neighbor, co-worker, friend or stranger. Pick up trash at playgrounds, schoolyards, or other community areas.

Pen is Mightier Than the Sword Pen is mightier than the sword, they say. Write a note of appreciation to someone. Send an inspirational quote to someone going through a rough time. Put a joke in your child's lunchbox. Send a nice card to your parents, 'just because.' Volunteer to be a penpal for someone facing challenges in a developing country. Write about why you give, save the document, and read it again couple years later. Leave a handwritten, 'I Love You' note where your spouse might unexpectedly find it.

Giving Thanks

Give thanks. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Invite someone for dinner who would otherwise be spending the holiday alone. For each family member, press a dried leaf and write a word of thanks with a permanent marker. Donate your extra groceries to a food bank that serves needy families. Interview your neighbhors about what they're thankful for, create a scroll from their responses and hand out a copy to everyone. Dedicate the day to truly give thanks and embrace each encounter as an opportunity to express kindness.

Winter Warmth

As December approaches, the heaters turn on and jackets are zipped up, be mindful of the less fortunate ones. Donate your unused winter-wear to those who might not have a home. Arrange a clothing drive in your neighborhood. Become a 'secret santa' for a family in need. Next time you're on the streets, take some soup or hot chocolate for a homeless person. Clip all the positive news stories you read this season, make a nice album and leave it at your dentist's office. Teach a child about generosity by asking them to donate one of their toys this Christmas.

Gift of Inner Transformation

Restrain from criticizing or saying anything negative to anyone this week. In a challenging situation, dare to see the glass half full rather than half empty. Listen more than you speak. Give freely of yourself. Practice kindness at every opportunity you get.

Seven Greatest Gifts

Gift of service: donate to a cause, as a holiday gift for your best friend. Gift of affection: be generous with hugs, kisses and pats on the back. Gift of laughter: clip cartoons, share funny stories. Gift of a written note: send a 'thank you' note, write a letter to an old friend. Gift of a compliment: a simple 'you look great today', a sincere 'thank you for a wonderful meal'. Gift of listening: no interrupting, no daydreaming, no responding, just listening. Gift of solitude: spend some time in silence, help others spend some time in silence.

New Year's Resolutions

Make a New Year's resolution about giving. Do one small act of kindness every month, whether it is mowing your neighbor's lawn or paying toll for the person behind you or smiling a little extra at a stranger. Make a monthly ten dollar donation to a nonprofit organization that is doing work in your local community. Express gratitude in the most unexpected places by taking time to say 'nice landing' to a pilot after a safe landing or leaving a big tip for your favorite restaurant waiter. Teach a child about giving by taking them on trips to a local homeless shelter or a senior center.

Give of Yourself

Prepare a nutritious sack lunch for a homeless person and hand it to him/her saying "have a great day". Shovel snow for someone. Mow the yard of an elderly or ill neighbor. Run or walk a race, or walk for the cure to help fund research for an incurable disease. If you see someone having a bad day, stop to listen to them, hand them a flower, anything to make a difference in their day. Babysit for free for a mom who needs a day to herself. Offer to drive elderly or disabled people to appointments or the grocery store. Crochet or knit baby hats and blankets to donate to a local hospital nursery. Leave your newspaper behind for the next person to read. Teach your children or grandchildren the act of giving.

Kindness With Youngsters

Get kids excited about kindness! Setup a 'lemonade' stand on a busy street corner in your neighborhood to raise money for a local charity. Identify powerful quotes on kindness and have a teacher put them up in his/her classroom. Encourage a child to start a conversation with a new kid in the community, or eat lunch at school with someone whom he/she doesn't normally talk to. Throw a party with youngsters, where they make 'SMILE' posters and waive them at nearby street intersections. Engage kids in volunteerism by helping out at a local animal shelter. As a family, write thank you cards for your garbage collector, postman, gardener and other people who provide often-overlooked services.

Be Vocal in Times of Beauty

Create beauty, in the spirit of kindness. Draw the feeling of kindness and send it as a postcard to your distant family members. Create a collage that expresses kindness and hang it up at your office. Write a story about a powerful moment when you received kindness and reflect on it before you start the day. Make something of beauty and gift it selflessly to the first person who appreciates it. Be bold in your appreciation of life around you!

Ideas in Five Words or Less

Read to a child. Make a wish come true. Rake someone's yard. Smile at a stranger. Be a courteous driver. Help Special Olympics. Sing a song. Pick up litter. Train Seeing Eye dogs. Tutor immigrants. Be a pen pal. Hold the elevator door. Change a tire. Adopt-a-Highway. Organize a neighborhood watch. Teach peer mediation. Tell a joke. Sub for Santa. Start a community garden. Buy donuts for neighboring office. Be a Crisis-Line volunteer. Send a thank you note. Give clothes at a shelter. Tend abused children. Wash a car. Visit a lemonade stand. Plant a tree. Recycle. Visit a sick neighbor. Give a tip.

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