Monday, December 31, 2012

Day 366...

My Inspiration: Then and Now

 "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
 -Ferris Bueller

The above quote comes from one of my favorite movies of all time.  It also perfectly encompasses how I feel after this whole year and how I will live my life moving forward.  My emotions are going crazy right now thinking that the year is over.  I am happy and proud that we were able to complete all 366 acts without missing a day.  I am saddened by the fact that it is over.  I am shocked by just how quickly the year went by.  I am excited to see where 2013 and beyond takes my family.  This year we have suffered through the loss of loved ones, the arrival of babies, new friends both here and overseas, and old friends and family returning to our lives.  These random acts have allowed me to connect with people across the United States and the world, and it has made me realize that, while there is more kindness around us than I could ever have imagined, there are still more opportunities to make a positive impact in people's lives.  Throughout this year, I have been asked 4 questions more than anything else: "Which random act is your favorite?" "What are you going to do on January 1st?"  "What are you doing with the dime per follower?" "What is going to be the 366th act?"  I have either played coy when asked these questions or flat out said that I wouldn't answered them.  Well, it's the last day, so I guess I am going to have to answer them.

"Which random act is your favorite?"

I have the hardest time answering this question because, honestly, it is extremely hard for me to pick just 1 act that is my favorite.  I compare it to asking a parent which one of their children is their favorite.  It really is impossible to pick for me.  Acts that really stand out for me are Day 8, Day 14, Day 213 , Day 235 and Day 330.  But honestly, although those really stand out, I still cannot pick a favorite. 

"What are you going to do on January 1st?"

This is probably the question that I have been asked more than any other.  Usually I just jokingly say "Sleeping in" or "I'm going to turn into a jerk and do 365 Random Acts of Unkindness," but that isn't the truth.  Here is what I can tell you as to my plans as of now.  I need your help.  While I won't be doing a different random act of kindness each day, I don't want the idea of everyday kindness to end.  Therefore, 366 Random Acts will become an open forum for people to send their acts of kindness.  They don't have to be different.  They don't have to be grand.  They just have to be kind.  So let's have 'em.  Whether you are doing a random act yourself or have had one done for you, send your stories of kindness to 366RandomActs@gmail.com.  The reason that I cannot commit to doing a different act each day is because I am going to be doing something different that I can't confine to a year.  Starting in 2013, I will be doing a different act of kindness in each of the 50 states.  I am guessing it might take me a couple of years to complete all 50, but you will be able to follow here on the blog.  In advance of traveling to a state, I will put out a call for everyone's help, as I want the acts to be huge.  So be on the lookout for the first State of Kind.

"What are you going to do with the dime per follower?"

As of now, between all the social media outlets that I have committed to donating a dime per follower, the random acts community is near 10,000 people.  Thankfully, this doesn't count the nearly 450,000 people that have visited the site this year or else I would be broke.  When this journey first started out, I figured that I would find a charity to donate the money to at year end.  However, I have found so many incredible charities that I have donated to throughout the year, it would be impossible for me to pick just one.  While almost $1000 is a good amount of money, I want to make sure that it goes towards something where a life or lives are truly impacted, and I'm not sure a few bucks here and there really would.  However, I think I have found a way that it can go towards something truly positive.

"What is going to be your 366th act?"

The money from the dime per follower pledge is actually going towards my 366th act.  My whole year was inspired by my daughter.  Seeing her face while she played around on the ground 1 year ago today gave me the idea because I knew I had to change the world around her in a positive way.  Now, I see her running around the house, playing and talking up a storm, and she continues to inspire me.  But another question people have asked is "What are you going to do for your future children?" and I was taken aback because...well...what the hell am I going to do for my future children?!?!  Then I had an idea, and like any good husband, I got permission from my wife to start to turn this idea into reality.  My 366th act is going to be for Isla, but it is also going to be for my future child.  That is because Day 366 will be my future child.  For my final random act of kindness, my wife and I will begin the process of adopting a sister or brother for Isla.  We will be putting the dime per follower pledge towards the adoption process, so we have each and every one of you to thank.  I felt as though this was the best way to use the money to truly impact a life.  I know I made it a rule to do my acts on the day I posted them, but you'll have to forgive me on this one.  It will definitely take a little longer.

So there it is.  366 Random Acts of Kindness.  I want to thank everyone who has made this possible;   my daughter, my wife, my family, my friends, my nanny who is family now, my boss and coworkers, and all of you.  This has been the most incredible year of my life, and none of it would have been possible without all of the love and support of have received from all corners of my life.  While this is the end of one journey, it is the beginning of another.  Please continue to spread kindness.  We are going to be the change that this world needs.  Let's start now because as Ferris says, "Life moves pretty fast."  Danke Schoen.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Day 365: Got The World To Sing A Song

366 Random Acts of Kindness was an idea that started out on the couch inside of a tiny little place in Chicago.  I expected this blog, which was used just so I could document my acts for Isla, to be followed by friends and family.  Due to the power of social media, it has grown to be read by hundreds of thousands of people in 129 countries around the world.  I don't say this to pat myself on the back because I don't think that it really has anything to do with me.  I think the reason it has grown is because of the need for positivity all around the globe.  The 24 hour news cycle is a constant reminder of all the wrong happening in the world, and this blog (and others like it) is a reminder that all is not bad out there.  

Not too far back, I put out a call to the 366 Random Acts community all around the world.  I needed their help with an act.  I gave them instructions on what to do, but I didn't tell them exactly what it would be for.  Well now, they, and everyone else get to see because today, for my random act of kindness, I got the world to sing a song together and it is dedicated to everyone around the globe.  These videos are more specifically dedicated to John Bascom, Miles Austrevich, the lives needlessly cut short in Newtown, Aurora, Chicago, Syria and anywhere else, and to anyone that has gone through struggles this year.  A lack of computer editing skills and a fear of copyright lawyers kept me from editing it all together, but here is the 366 Random Acts community singing "All You Need Is Love" by The Beatles.

P.S. If you would like to add your own version, just let me know at 366RandomActs@gmail.com.

Chicago, Illinois, USA
My Family At Christmas
Hollywood, California, USA
Grenada 
Stokesly, North Yorkshire, England
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
 Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand
West Seneca, New York, USA
Lake Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia
Canada
Mexico
Seattle, Washington, USA
Rome, Italy
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Tuscany, Italy

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Day 364: Reached Out And Set Up An Introduction

This year has been a life changing experience for me and I have really grown as a person.  I've learned that some things are way more important than others, grudges only weigh on you negatively and letting bygones by bygones helps with closure.  Those themes weighed heavily on my decision for my random act today.  I've commented on here before how my father and I don't really communicate except for a few texts here and there.  He hadn't reached out to ask to see Isla and that confounded me.  I figured, rather than continue to be angry about it, I would be the one to take the next step.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I reached out and set up an introduction.  I am looking to introduce Isla to my father soon, so we will see how that goes.  A lot of things have happened in my life and in the lives of many others that made me realize that our life is finite and we shouldn't live it angry.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Day 363: Made A Donation In The Name Of Miles Austrevich


Sorry for the late posting.  We have been traveling back from California all day.  Luckily, Isla Bean was a good girl for the most part.  There was a marine on our flight that kept her attention and made her laugh.  As if he hadn't done enough for me and my family by serving, he went ahead and helped us keep our child from having an outburst as we waited on the tarmac for an extra half an hour.  Well tomorrow is the visitation for friend of the blog, Miles Austrevich.  If you want to learn more about Miles and his bravery up until his last day, you can do so by reading this letter his father, Len, wrote after his passing.  In a couple of conversations in the past, Len had mentioned how much Miles loved a camp for kids with cancer that he attended.  The camp serves as a diversion to the illness, and as a way for kids suffering from this dreaded disease to build bonds with others in the same situation.  One Step Camp started in 1978 with 40 kids, but has now grown to serve upwards of 300+ kids as they go on different life changing excursions.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I made a donation in the name of Miles Austrevich to the Children's Oncology Services Inc. One Step Camp.  If you would like to join me in doing so, donations are accepted here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Day 362: Helped Grind Out Hunger


Santa Cruz is a really cool, really chill town.  It is known as Surf City U.S.A., and while the surfing is king here, skateboarding is just as big a part of the culture.  In this town, home to Santa Cruz Skateboards, it is common place to seeing people get to wherever they need to go by way of skateboard.  Now I am not one that has ever partaken in skateboarding outside of slipping and falling on my butt a few times, but I am always in awe of skaters both professional and amateur.  Today, I went by a place that was using the uniting power of skateboarding to make a change in the world.  Grind Out Hunger is a non-profit organization started by skateboarders with the intention to help decrease childhood hunger and malnutrition by 50% by 2015.  They look to do this by mobilizing the youth of greater Santa Cruz county (whom they reach by skate shows at schools around the area) to raise money and food through their school.  This evening they will have an event in association with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the National Basketball Developmental League, and I am going to help donate to that event.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am going to help grind out hunger by donating to said organization.  It is our last evening in California, and while it has been a great trip, I am ready to get back to Chicago for the last few acts.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Day 361: Bought Movie Tickets For The People Behind Me In Line


My cousin Cameron and I had a long day hanging out in greater Santa Cruz.  We hit up the Capitola Mall.  We went to Downtown Capitola, grabbed a couple slices of Pizza My Heart, and ate them on the beach.  We hung out in Santa Cruz, checking out the new basketball stadium and the interesting crowds that Santa Cruz is known for.  We decided that we wanted to make a true Man Date out of it and went to go see a movie (Side note: The movie was Django Unchained and I highly recommend it.  Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, and Sam Jackson were awesome.).  While we were in line, I noticed a mother and son behind us who were trying to decide what movie they wanted to see.  Since the conversation reminded me of one I would have with my mom (except that deciding which movie would be replaced with whether or not to go to the theater), I decided I wanted to do something nice for them.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I bought movie tickets for the people behind me in line.  They really appreciated it, and had actually intended on using a gift card.  They asked me why and I told them it was just a random act of kindness.  I told them if they wanted to keep the chain going and pass on the gift card, that would be awesome.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Day 360: Dressed Up As Santa And Visited A Nursing Home


Merry Christmas to one and all (that is if you celebrate Christmas.  Otherwise, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus, and Happy Birthday former White Sox manager Gene Lamont)!!!  As we all gather together with our families this holiday season, I think it is important to keep in mind many people who might be spending the days away from their loved ones (soldiers overseas, the homeless, etc.).  My grandma used to live in a nursing home/assisted living center, and one thing I noticed when visiting her, was many times some of the residents didn't have anyone visit them.  I wasn't going to let that be the case today, so I got to work.  Yesterday, I called all around greater Santa Cruz county to see if there was any costume shop open.  Unfortunately, as I had suspected, none were open.  However, one woman who owned a costume shop left her cell phone on the voicemail for any "last minute Santas."  I called her up and drove to a highway off ramp to meet her to get a Santa costume.  She was super sweet and when I told her what I was doing, she gave me the Santa suit at half price.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I dressed up as Santa and visited a nursing home to greet the residents.  They were so happy to see me and played up the whole Santa Claus bit by telling me whether or not they were naughty or nice.  My wife then drove me around Aptos, California while I waved to people throughout the town, on the beach, or in their cars.  The happiness and wonder in people's faces (both young and old) when they saw Santa Claus was incredible.  Now it is time to throw back a couple glasses of mulled wine, watch some Christmas Day hoops, and spend some time whippin' amateurs in Catch Phrase.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Day 359: Went Christmas Caroling


My singing voice is not very good, although that hasn't kept me from belting out tunes my entire life.  Whether it was making my own recording of "I Swear" by All 4 One while at Six Flags or my friends and I serenading women at Ohio State, I have never been one to shy away from the opportunity to sing.  Now since it is the holidays, I figured that I could put my golden pipes to good use for a holiday themed random act of kindness.  Although it is still weird being in California for Christmas (who in the hell has crab for Christmas dinner?), I figured I could suit up in my holiday best and go door-to-door here in Santa Cruz and sing Christmas carols.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I'm going Christmas caroling along with my wife and other family members to houses in my mother-in-law's neighborhood.  I'm probably going to stick to the easy classics like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Jingle Bells.  UPDATE:  We had so much fun caroling.  One family tried to give us $10.  Another invited us in to their Christmas party.  I think this needs to be a new family Garcia family tradition. While we are on the subject, here are the list of the 5 greatest Christmas songs ever:
  1. All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey
  2. Blue Christmas by Elvis
  3. I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas by The Drifters (think Home Alone)
  4. Christmas In Hollis by Run D.M.C.
  5. Let It Snow by Bing Crosby
While I am on the subject of top lists, here are the 5 greatest Christmas movies ever:
  1. Christmas Vacation and Die Hard (tie)
  2. Everything else
On a sad note, I want to take this space to mention the loss of a friend of 366 Random Acts.  Back on Day 8, my random act was to tell a joke for Miles Austrevich.  Miles was suffering from brain cancer and his dad, Len, was trying to get 5,000 people to tell his son a joke to help battle cancer with humor.  For 4 years, Miles faced a horrible disease but never lost his sense of humor or the smile on his face.  Yesterday afternoon, Miles passed away surrounded by friends and family.  His dad wrote this touching letter for everyone to read.  Miles leaves behind the legacy of Jokes4Miles, and now those jokes will be passed on to other children during some of their toughest time.  Take care Miles and thank you for being an inspiration to me and my family.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Day 358: Downloaded Tab For A Cause


In May, I found a quick and easy random act of kindness that anyone can do to raise money for many different charities.  It was called GoodSearch, and any time you did a websearch on their site (rather than using Yahoo or Google) money would be donated to a given charity by advertisers.  I like doing easy acts like these so that anyone can do them, and I recently found another one that might be the easiest random act I have ever done.  All I did was click on my Firefox browser (or you can use Google Chrome) and opened up a new tab.  A group of college students created Tab For A Cause, and extension for web browsers where advertisers on the site will donate to charities each time you open up a new tab.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I downloaded Tab For A Cause and started donating by clicking.  I needed to do something easy today because my family and I are traveling to Santa Cruz, California to spend the holidays with my wife's family.  I said yesterday that this was going to be my first ever warm weather Christmas (the others with her family were in Montana), and I am not sure I am ready for it.  Although I guess the weather there isn't supposed to be very warm, so maybe Mother Nature is trying to make me feel at home.  I am sure my wife is going to point out every single nice house that is for sale while we are there, so I better prepare myself mentally for that. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day 357: Paid Off Someone's Layaway


Wanting to set a positive example for Isla was my inspiration behind starting 366 Random Acts way back on January 1st.  However, the idea of doing a random act of kindness each day came from something I did last year around this time.  A couple of days before Christmas 2011, I saw a news story about how at K-Marts around the country, people were anonymously paying off the balances on random people's layaways.  People would show up to get their items and find out that they didn't have to pay another dime.  So last year, I decided that I wanted to do that and headed over to a nearby K-Mart.  It was less than a week later that, while thinking of something to do for Isla, I remembered that act and thought of 366.  Now, almost a year to the day later, I wanted to re-do the act that inspired my journey.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I paid off someone's layaway.  I made sure to pay off someone who had items for both adults and children.  While I was waiting in line to do this random act, the person in front of me was surprised to learn that someone else had paid off their balance, and the woman cried when she found out.  Me being the emotional person I am, started to tear up some too, so I was a little choked up when speaking with the cashier.  I have to go get some rest now as Lindsey, Isla and I are heading off the California in the morning to celebrate my first ever warm weather Christmas.  I'm not too sure how I will handle it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Day 356: Donated To The USO At The Airport


This is a quick post because I am rushing home to see my daughter.  I can't wait to smooch those chubby little cheeks.  We just landed at O'Hare on our way back from New York City.  As we walked to go get our luggage, we passed a table full of delicious looking holiday cookies and other assorted desserts.  My sweet toothed wife of course wanted to inquire what was up with treats, so we headed over.  During the holiday season, the USO sets up a table at airports around the country to give free snacks and treats to soldiers traveling.  They were taking donations at the table, so today, for my random act of kindness, I donated to the USO at the airport.  Now on to my house to snuggle The Bean.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 355: Gave My Subway Pass To A Stranger


My wife and I are in New York City right now for a work function.  It is the first time that the two of us have left Isla without one of us with her.  As you could imagine, it is extremely weird for us and we are missing the crap out of her.  Luckily, our nanny, Kelli, has sent us a steady stream of pictures and updates.  Earlier today, while I was in meetings all day, my wife went on a walking tour/mystery scavenger hunt/theater show called The Accomplice.  She said it was the best way to see the city and experience theater at the same time.  While she was doing that, I was in the midst of ZocFlock, the annual get together/conference of everyone in my company.  It took place in the same theater where they used to film Inside The Actors Studio w/James Lipton.  After leaving the theater, we headed to ZocDoc HQ for follow up meetings, and had to take the subway.  I had an extra ride on my card and saw someone having some issues with the Metro Card machine.  I asked them if they would like to take my card, and the person said "Yes."  So today, for my random act of kindness, I gave my subway pass to a stranger.  Now it is on to party with my wife and all of my co-workers (while we both miss the heck out of The Bean).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Day 354: Provided A Family With Christmas Presents


I know I have given her credit in the past on here, but without my wife, these random acts don't happen.  It isn't just that she helps me structure and plan out certain acts, but she inspires me each and every day.  She has been the impetus for so many acts and today's acts shows how much of a caring heart she has.

Lindsey teaches in kind of a tough area.  It is a neighborhood that has seen its' fair share of violence and is not a very affluent community.  Many of her students come from broken homes, and some of the stories she tells me absolutely break my heart.  A few days ago, she was speaking to one of her students about Christmas.  She asked the student what he asked for, and he responded that he wasn't sure if he was getting anything because the family didn't have very much money.  The holidays aren't supposed to be about presents as much as they are spending time with family, but Lindsey felt bad that the child and his mother weren't going to have anything to open on Christmas morning.  She slyly asked the student what he wanted and what his mother might want, and came home to me with an idea.  We would purchase a few presents for them and anonymously leave them in the school office for the mother to pick up.  So today, for our random act of kindness, we provided a family with Christmas presents.  This will always be the season of giving for me, and I will be sure to continue that trend through the end of the year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day 353: Skyped With A Classroom


One of the things that I am going to miss most about doing these random acts is the emails that I get from people (well, at least the positive ones).  I have been able to interact with people both abroad and here in the United States due to the blog catching on, and they have shared some of the most heartwarming, inspirational, and sometimes emotional messages.  Early on in this journey, a teacher from the suburbs of Chicago, Dena, reached out to me to say that she was a fan of my random acts.  Since then I have kept in sporadic touch with her, and recently, she asked if I would do a random act for her class.  She is a HUGE fan of random acts in general, and was going to read a holiday random acts story to her classroom.  Instead of her reading it, though, she asked if I could be the one to read it to her class and then interact with them for a bit.  Because of my hectic work schedule, I wasn't going to be able to make it out to the suburbs, but I knew that I still wanted to help.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I Skyped with her classroom and read the story Silver Packages.  The kids and I then talked about random acts that they had planned for the holiday season and asked me a bunch of great questions.  These are the types of interactions that I absolutely love and it will be tough to give up.  Hmmm, maybe I need to think about January 1st a little more...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Day 352: Jump Started A Stranded Driver's Car

 The Aftermath of My Kindness




I am not what you could call a "car guy."  While I had my fair share of Hot Wheels, it never really translated into me getting too excited about cars.  My first car was my mom's early 90's red Dodge Colt.  The first time I went to drive it by myself, my foot got caught under the panel by the gas pedal and I almost ran over my dog.  It was a tiny car and I looked like the guy from The Simpsons who could barely fit in his automobile.  These days I cruise the mean streets of the Chi in a tricked out (by tricked out I mean a car seat and 4 different Glee CDs...they're my wife's I swear) Toyota Highlander and my legs have more than enough room for optimal comfort.  One strange thing about me: every car I have ever owned/driven, I have had no less than 5 baseball/football/basketball cards in it.  Not sure why, but I do.  I am a child.

There are a few things I know how to do when it comes to cars.  I know how to change a tire, I know how to check the oil, and I know how to jump start either my car or someone else's.  Back in high school, I saw my friend Paul nearly blow up all of our friend's trying to jump a car, and I made a vow to myself that I had to learn the proper way to do that.  I've wanted to help someone jump start their car for one of my random acts since I started in January, and was always on the lookout for someone.  I gave up a couple of months ago because I didn't think the opportunity would ever arise.  As luck would have it, when I didn't routinely stare for broken down cars, I came across one (Side Note: Back when you could smoke in restaurant, my mom had this theory that to make the food come out quicker, you lit up a cigarette.  More often than not, it worked.  I bring this up to both make a comparison to my situation and to give my mom and step dad some pub for taking the steps to quit smoking.  Remember positivity!!).  So today, for my random act of kindness, I jump started a stranded driver's car.  The whole time I kept thinking to myself  "I'm a car guy.  I'm a car guy."  Then I got into my car and popped in Glee.....er.....AC/DC's Greatest Hits.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Day 351: Donated To The Mentally And Physically Handicapped


My wife and I took Isla to go see Santa Claus at the mall, and as you can see in the above picture, she was not a huge fan of the big jolly guy in the red suit.  I held her hand as she walked towards him, and when she was about 5 feet away, she froze in place.  She moved in to full fledged meltdown after I placed her in Santa's lap, so the picture had to be taken pretty quickly.  As Lindsey was trying to calm her down, I went to the front to pay for the picture.  While I was paying, I noticed a flyer for a group called Adventure in Movement for the Handicapped.  When I got home, I researched the group further and they are dedicated to helping "mentally challenged, visually impaired, hearing impaired, physically handicapped, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, severe behavior disorder (SBD), severe behavior handicap (SBH), autism, the geriatric population, and other children and adults with special needs reach their highest potential through the AIM method."  In light of everything that happened in Newtown, I felt it necessary to help a group like this.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I donated to AIM for the Handicapped. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Day 350: Sent Ornaments & Well Wishes To Newtown, Connecticut


I've tried to write this random act a few different times today, but I haven't been able to maintain a stream of thinking that allows me to, so please bear with me if this is all over the place.  In the past 36+ hours since the senseless atrocity took place at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, my emotions have vacillated between sadness and anger.  I've seen these shootings happen time and time again, but never before have my emotions affected me this much.  I keep putting myself in the place of those parents and almost have become physically ill when I do.  When I heard the news, it was hard for me to work because all I wanted to do was go home and squeeze Isla as hard as I could.  Since I started doing these acts, I've woken up and truly looked forward to completing them.  Today was different.  I couldn't even think of something to do, nor did I seem to even want to do one.  This was the closest I have ever gone to missing a day on my mission.  Then I started to think about what could have caused something like the Newtown incident to happen and I realized that now, more than any other day, I had to do a random act.  When I keep seeing these horrible tragedies happen, I keep thinking about how important spreading kindness is, and that maybe, just maybe, a small act could down the line prevent something like this.  It is too important for me to miss doing a random act today.

Earlier, I was on Facebook and I saw a friend who was looking to do something, anything, for the families of the victims.  My friend Katie mentioned how she can't even begin to know what the families are going through, but that she felt compelled to do something to show them her sincere condolences.  She wanted to show them that everyone, not just in Connecticut or the US, but the world, has sympathy for them.  With the holidays coming up, Katie is creating "Peace Be With You" ornaments and has coordinated with a teacher from Sandy Hook to get them to the families of the victims.  So today for my random act of kindness, my family and I are sending one of Katie's ornaments.  If you would like to be a part of this, please email me at 366RandomActs@gmail.com.  As I said yesterday on here, hug your kids.  If you don't have kids, hug someone close to you. And if this blog somehow reaches anyone in the Newtown community, just know that wherever you turn, someone is there for you.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Day 349: Sent A Christmas Care Package To A Sailor


Lindsey, Isla and I will be spending Christmas in California this year with Lindsey's family.  It is going to be my first ever warm weather Christmas (all others were in Chicago and Montana) which I am not sure I am ready for.  One of these days, we will have a Christmas where both Lindsey's family and my family meet for a gigantic family Christmas (Cabo anyone?).  It is tough to spend the holidays away from my family, but something made me realize that I still have it much easier than others.  For members of our armed forces, being away from your loved ones during a deployment is always tough, but the holidays always make it a little tougher.  A friend I have known since elementary school, Jennifer, recently asked if I would be interested in sending care packages to single sailors who are deployed overseas.  Jennifer, who is a Navy wife herself, is committed to doing as much as possible to ensure as many members of the Navy and their families are taken care of (all while waddling around with her soon to be born twins).  So today, for my random act of kindness, I joined Jennifer and a group of others and sent a Christmas care package to a sailor.  I threw in a DVD, some snacks, socks (Lieutenant Dan taught me the importance of socks), and a few other things. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Day 348: Caught An Elderly Woman's Runaway Dog


My dog Vinny is a little squirt, so those little legs make it pretty tough for him to run away from.  Well, that and the fact that he loves me more than anything in the world and feels the need to be attached to my hip whenever I am near.  Needless to say, I have never had the experience of my dog running away from me and having to go all over the neighborhood to track him down.  My lungs and legs got that experience today though.  I was sitting in my car typing up some notes about a doctor I had just visited when all of a sudden I heard yelling.  I popped my head up from my computer, but I couldn't see anyone, so I just put my head back down and continued working.  A few seconds later I heard the yelling again, but this time I saw an older woman "running" down the street after her dog.  The dog wasn't huge by any means (I think it was a poodle mix of some sort), but I soon found out how fast it was.  I got out of my car, asked the lady what the dog's name was (hilariously, Gordon) and told her that I would get it for her.  A few different times I actually got near enough to the dog where I could grasp at it, but I ended up looking like Rocky in the scene from Rocky II where he chases the chicken.  After a couple of minutes, the Gordon finally relaxed or grew tired, and I was able to get his leash.  I walked the dog back to the lady and she thanked me.  I think I need to start chasing dogs, chickens, Isla, or whatever because that was one hell of a workout.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Day 347: Tried To Help Dalton Break A World Record


I need everyone's help.  Seriously, every single person who lays eyes on this blog post, I ask that you help me with something.  It won't take much time and really won't take money, but you could make someone's last wish come true.  Dalton Dingus is a 9 year old boy who is going through a really rough time in his young life.  He is currently living with Stage 4 Cystic Fibrosis and has been sent home by his doctors to be closer to family.  Dalton has a wish this holiday season, and it is something that you and I (and anyone else you know) can help with.  Dalton is trying to get into the Guiness Book of World Records by receiving the most Christmas cards, and although I already did a random act based on Holiday cards, this is something that I couldn't pass up.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I tried to help Dalton break a world record by sending him a card from my family.  Please join me in helping Dalton perform this awesome feat by sending a card to the following address:

Dalton Dingus
HC 62 Box 1249
Salyersville, Ky 41465

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Day 346: Passed Out Candy Canes To Strangers


I've had a lot of fun doing random acts for strangers.  Seeing the surprised and quizzical reactions on people's faces has been something that has really made 366 Random Acts fun for me.  From hugging random people on a busy street corner to complimenting total strangers, putting kindness out there to people who didn't expect it at all has been something I will never forget.  I wanted to do something along those lines again before the year was out, and I was in a place today that was going to be super busy.  Today, I was working in the Chicago Loop and I knew that I would be close to the Christkindle Market in the middle of Daley Plaza.  The Christkindle Market is an annual event where people can go enjoy delicious food and drink, as well as buy Christmas ornaments and other holiday items.  On my way into work, I was inside of Walgreens and saw a huge display for candy canes.  It hit me that I might be able to make people's days by giving them away for free by the Christkindle Market.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I passed out candy canes to strangers and wished them Happy Holidays as they passed by.  Some people seemed hesitant because...well I mean...giving away free candy on any day but Halloween is kind of creepy.  Most people were more than happy to come up and take one.  While I was passing them out, Frank Mathie from ABC 7 Chicago (who did the first ever story on 366 Random Acts) interviewed me for a follow up on my year.  If you are in the Chicagoland area, you can see the story on the 5 o'clock news.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 345: Put Money In A Bell Ringer's Kettle


If the timing works out and there is availability, I hope to be a bell ringer for the Salvation Army for one of my random acts.  Chicago has some of the most fun bell ringers from people who dress up in costumes to people who sing like professionals.  In fact, today, I even saw former White Sox slugger, Ron Kittle, ringing away and shaking hands (we never should have traded him for Ron Hassey).  People who volunteer for the role of bell ringer voluntarily put themselves outside in some of the coldest days Chicago has to offer, so their dedication to the job is unquestioned.  While driving around for work earlier in the day, I saw a bell ringer outside of a nearby Walgreens but didn't have any cash on me.  To further emphasize the dedication, many hours later, I saw the same man in the same spot still collecting donations that will be turned into Christmas dinners, clothes and toys for those in need.  Luckily by this point, I had some cash on me, so today, for my random act of kindness, I put money in a bell ringer's kettle.  Oh, and if anyone from Salvation Army is reading, I would love to help out!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Day 344: Volunteered For Chicago Bulls Charities


I've heard some instances of people getting the opportunity to meet their favorite celebrities or athletes, only to find that the person they've idolized isn't everything they've built them up to be.  I've both known people and read about people whose encounters have ranged from disappointing to downright disrespectful.  I bring this up because today, I had the complete opposite experience when I had the chance to meet some of my favorite athletes.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited by Chicago Bulls Charities to volunteer for their annual holiday party for USO families and children from the Chicago Housing Authority, so today for my random act of kindness, I happily took them up on their invitation.  The event gave the attendees the opportunity to meet the Bulls, bake cookies, take photos and videos with the players, and at the end receive a gift from Santa Claus.  The smiles on the faces of the children were incredible and seeing them get the chance to meet their heroes was such a cool experience  The players and coaching staff couldn't have been happier to be there and were genuinely excited to play with the children and volunteer their time.  One of the more touching moments of the day came when one of the families received a FaceTime call from their father stationed in Kuwait.  The players and coaches came over and spoke to the soldier and his comrades, thanked them for their service and wished them happy holidays.  Maybe it was my lack of sleep last night, but there may have been a little welling of tears in my eye when I saw that happen.  It wasn't just the players and coaches who made this a memorable experience.  The people from Chicago Bulls Charities who put on this event, as well as Bulls play by play man Chuck Swirsky, were some of the nicest people I've met and it was easy to tell how much they cared about helping others.  Although one of my rules for 366 Random Acts is that no act can benefit me, I must say that being able to meet Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and other Chicago Bulls was something that I will never forget.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Day 343: Collected Toys For Tots


This evening, my wife and I will be having our annual Holiday Party.  Since Isla was born, we have had to move the party from our house to a nearby bar because it is hard to have a party in a small apartment when there are books and toys strewn about.  One of the highlights of our party each year is the Yankee Swap/White Elephant gift exchange.  In the past, people have gotten pretty ruthless and very strategic with how they select their gifts in order to get something solid.  This year, thought, I wanted to do something a little differently.  When I sent out the invitation for the party, I asked everyone if they would like to replace purchasing a gift for the Yankee Swap and instead bring a toy so that we could donate them to Toys For Tots.  My request was met with overwhelming agreement as people were more than happy to help with a random act.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I collected toys for the Toys For Tots program.  Toys For Tots, run since by the United States Marine Corps Reserve, collects new, unwrapped toys and distributes them to the children of less fortunate families.  This is as much for the children as it is for the parents as it really helps them through what would otherwise be a difficult time/situation.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Day 342: Gave A Cup Of Coffee To A Person Directing Traffic


Chicago consistently ranks among the worst traffic cities in the United States.  It isn't uncommon to be caught in a traffic jam on the Kennedy Expressway well past 10PM.  The inside streets are just as bad.  In the Loop on any given day, you have to dodge your fair share of daredevil bicyclists, high-speeding taxis, aloof pedestrians, and the occasional plane crash.  Keeping order of the transportation travails of millions of people on a daily basis isn't an easy thing, and because of that, those meant to keep the order get yelled at like they are baseball umpires making a bad call.  I will admit, I have definitely been guilty of yelling a comment out of my window at member of the Chicago traffic enforcement staff, but today while walking around I realized just how tough the job is.  Reason being: most of the people in this world are terrible drivers and/or walkers.  Seriously!  Just standing on the sidewalk and watching a busy intersection for 5 minutes, I saw some of the worst driving since Lindsey Lohan's last DUI.  I watched as countless people stared at their iPhones and walked into traffic without even looking up.  Now, I have much more of an appreciation for how tough a job that is, so I thought I would try to show it.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I gave a cup of coffee to a person directing traffic.  I don't know whether or not she was able to drink it because she hurriedly put it down by her feet, but if not, at least she hopefully knew not everyone wanted to honk at her or swear at her.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Day 341: Downloaded An App


For the majority of 2012, I have had debilitating back pain that came out of the blue.  There were times when I couldn't even get up or walk, so sometimes work, random acts, and even picking up Isla were extremely difficult for me.  Thankfully, due to some epidural injections and physical therapy, my back is starting to round back into shape.  Speaking of shape, since I couldn't do anything active, my shape has gotten quite rotund.  I made a pledge on Day 71 that I would get into shape for my wife and my daughter, and now that I can physically do that, I need to start. 

My friend Ashley put up a Facebook status yesterday telling everyone that she knew to download the smartphone app Charity Miles.  Charity Miles tracks the distance that you walk, run or bike, and for each mile, money is donated by corporate sponsors to a charity that you select.  Not only do you get the benefit of living a health lifestyle, but you also help those in need by working out.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I downloaded an app and got to work on cutting some of this chub from my body.  The app is available on the iPhone and Android, so if you are going to work out, this is an easy way to help people by doing so.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Day 340: Sent A Holiday Card To Wounded Troops


One of my favorite parts of the holidays is when I go to my mailbox to see that someone has sent my family a Christmas card.  It is usually a battle between my wife and I to get to the mailbox first so that we get to open up the card before the other one.  My wife hangs all of the cards up on the wall behind the couch in our living room, and this year, my mom and stepdad had the first card with the honor of being hung up.  Receiving cards is something small that really puts a smile on my face, which is why I've done a couple of random acts based on them, including today's.

My affinity to the men and women of the armed forces has been mentioned in many different blog posts on here.  Long after my random acts are done, I am going to continue to do acts of kindness for soldiers because each and every one of them deserves to be treated like the heroes that they are.  The holidays can be a tough time for soldiers, especially the ones who have been injured and must spend their time in military hospitals.  I was thinking of something small that I could do to hopefully put a smile on the face of someone who has done so much for me, my family, and my country.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I sent a holiday card to wounded troops.  Some troop is going to get a picture of Miss Isla Bean with a handwritten message from my family.  If you would like to join me in sending a card (because it is SUPER easy), you can send them to:

Holiday Mail For Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD
20791-5456

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Day 339: Picked A Winner (Not From My Nose)

 

My friend Laura (who has been a part of multiple "Days") asked me recently if I would help her class out for one of my random acts.  She asked me if I would help to decide the winner for her persuasive writing contest that she was having for her 4th grade class at Lincoln Elementary in River Forest.  Little did I know that the person that the students were trying to persuade was me!  Laura tasked her students with researching different charitable organizations that they were interested, and then to do a write-up to convince me to do a random act of kindness for those organizations.  When Laura showed up at my house with the above stack of letters (and their associated artwork), I was blown away by how much dedicated research these students had done.  After reading through each of the different papers, I wasn't sure which one I was going to pick.  However, 2 papers, both for the same organization, really stuck out in my mind due to the holiday spirit.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I picked the winning papers that 2 of the students had written about Toys For Tots.  In those students honor, I am going to be doing a random act very soon for Toys For Tots because of how persuasive they were!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Day 338: Supported Those With Disabilities


Countries spanning the globe today celebrated United Nation's International Day of Persons With Disabilities.  15% of the world, or one billion people, are living with some sort of disability, be it mental, developmental or physical.  Of that number, 100% of those people deserve to be treated just the same as everyone else on the planet.  The theme for this years IDPWD is "Removing Barriers To Create An Inclusive And Accessible Society For All," and with my random act today, I hope to help support that.

For over 90 years, the Easter Seals have been helping people with disabilities and special needs gain independence and overcome obstacles.  They have done this by providing services such as medical rehabilitation, employment training, and many other programs that help people achieve their personal goals.  I thought, what better way to stay in the theme for International Day of Persons With Disabilities than to make a donation to a great organization that helps people gain access into everyday society.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I supported those with disabilities by making a small donation to the Easter Seals organization.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Day 337: Bought A Bow Tie


I've probably mentioned 10 different times on this blog how many weddings I have been to over the past year.  My wife and I have attended or been invited to 16 different weddings in 2012.  I am guessing this will be the most we ever have to attend in a year because we, and most of our friends, are right in that prime marrying age range.  While I love going to weddings because I get to hang out with friends, eat good food, and show off my dance moves, the biggest reason why I enjoy going is because of the actual ceremony.  I am an emotional mess during them.  I've never NOT cried during a ceremony, and I am in no way ashamed to say that (plus my wife likes it when I show my sensitive side).  Seeing two people look at each other and pledge their undying love to one another really pulls at my heart strings.  When two people exchange their vows to one another, nothing else matters except the love that they have for one another.  I know that marriage isn't for everyone (see: Clooney, George) but for two people who love each other that much, marriage should be allowed for everyone.

As a youngster, I would say that I didn't want my child to be gay.  The reason I said that is pretty cut and dry: ignorance.  I didn't have any reason to say that other than fear of the unknown and plain, old idiocy.  Many things in my life that I have done, I can look back on and laugh or be proud of.  That isn't one of them.  Luckily, I learned to open my eyes, educate myself, and learn the err of my ways.  If Isla chooses to get married in the future, to a man or a woman, I can't wait to walk her down the aisle and hand her off to the love of her life.  In the current world we live in, however, Isla, if she were to be gay, my friend Sasha, and many other people aren't afforded that experience right.  That is something that needs to change.

I love the show Modern Family.  On Friday, I saw a story about how a star of that show, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and his partner started an organization that is fighting for marriage equality called Tie The Knot.  Tie The Knot raises funds for different equal rights and marriage equality groups through the sale of bow ties creates by The Tie Bar.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I bought a bow tie to support equal rights in a place where "all men are created equal."  To me, this isn't a political issue or a religious issue.  It is a kindness issue.  The overarching message that I am trying to convey with this blog is that you need to treat others the way you want to be treated.  By saying others don't deserve the same experiences in life as you is the opposite of that golden rule.   

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Day 336: Cut Off All My Hair

On the left: Sam Sheepdog from Looney Toons On the right: So fresh and so clean, clean

The last time I got a real haircut was in late November of 2011.  I say "real" haircut because I went in for a trim in September at a random barber shop and ended up losing a big chunk of my coif.  The reason for growing my hair was because I wanted to donate it to Locks of Love for one of my random acts of kindness.  Since I am not one known for having an attention to detail, I didn't realize until late in the year that you had to have an 8 inch ponytail in order to donate your hair.  Unfortunately, I wasn't going to be able to grow my hair that long in one year, and to be honest with you, I'm not sure my boss would have appreciated me trying to do outside sales while looking like Antonio Banderas in the movie, "Desperado."  I wanted to figure out a way to still utilize my hair for a random act of kindness, and last week I saw a story that gave me an idea.  In an effort to show unity with Chuck Pagano, head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, as he was going through treatments for Leukemia, two cheerleaders for the team decided that they would shave their heads.  Now I know it isn't as drastic a move for me to shave my head as it is for 2 women, but I thought I would try to both raise cancer awareness and show unity with everyone out there I know who is themselves or knows someone going through chemotherapy.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I cut off all my hair to do so.  My wife was happy that I finally got rid of my Movember mustache along with the hair.  She said that I look 10 years younger than I had before, so that's a plus. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Day 335: Threw A Benefit Party


I use the word "random" pretty loosely on this blog.  My acts aren't always random in the typical sense of the word, but rather in the way that teenage girls who love One Direction use it.  As in, if you saw somebody hugging random people on the street, you'd say "That's so random..." or if you saw a person you didn't know show up to a charity event, you'd say "Who is this random over here?"  I've gotten emails and messages from people critiquing me about not sticking to the traditional definition of the word, and while I will readily admit that some of my acts are planned out, most of the time they are chosen at random either when I wake up in the morning or when I see the opportunity.  The reason that I bring up how random my acts are was because today's is DEFINITELY not random at all.  I had planned on doing this for months, I knew who I wanted to do it for, and hopefully, nothing random actually does happen in regards to it.  So to anyone who was going to email entries from Webster's dictionary, no need.  I already know.

On February 19th (two days after Michael Jordan's 59th birthday), I sat on a roof in the freezing cold.  5 months later, I joined a cross country walk in the blistering heat.  I did both of these random acts because of and with Pastor Corey Brooks.  For those that have just started reading this blog, Pastor Brooks lived on top of the roof of an abandoned, crime infested hotel for 90 days in order to raise the funds to have it torn down.  Months later, he walked across the entire country to help raise funds in order to build a community center on the grounds of the old hotel.  He did both of these crazy things because he is sick and tired of having to speak at the funerals of youth killed by gun violence here in Chicago.  He has inspired a great number of people both here in Chicago and across the country, myself included.  Since he has been someone who has been inspiring to me and my acts, and I feel so strongly about his mission to stop violence, I wanted to do something to raise money for his movement, Project H.O.O.D.  On October 1st, I had a goal to raise $1000 for Project H.O.O.D., but was unable to (thank you to those of you that did donate though!  I will be giving the donations to Pastor Corey soon).  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am throwing a benefit party to raise money for Project H.O.O.D.  It is also a way to get many of the people who have been involved in 366 Random Acts together in the same place.  I want to thank people, meet people for the first time, and share a beer with them.  To anyone reading this blog right now: you are invited and so is anyone that you know.  Please join us tonight from 7-10 at FatPour, 2005 W. Division here in Chicago.  Enjoy a little Beastie Boys to get hyped.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day 334: Secretly Paid For A Stranger's Co-Pay

 
When I grow up, I want to be Santa Claus.  I know that A. I am supposedly already grown up and B. the job is already fill, but a guy can have hope can't he?  The biggest reason why I want to be Santa Claus (outside of the free cookies) is the fact that I really enjoy secretly giving gifts and surprising people.  Since I am still a ways away from manning the North Pole, I decided to try to emulate Mr. Claus today for my random act. 

I spend almost all of my days in doctor's offices for my job at ZocDoc (yet another shameless plug), and usually they aren't the most fun places to be for people.  I guess I understand since most of the people in these offices are sick with one malady or another, but I wanted to try to change the mood and vibe of one office I stopped in.  What better way to do that than with an impromptu drop in from a man who desperately wants to pretend to be Santa?  A woman was checking out from their doctor's appointment when they stepped away from the desk for a moment.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I secretly paid for a stranger's co-pay.  Instead of a gift under the tree, the woman received a "Paid For" receipt in her hand.  I must now reward myself with cookies.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 333: Recorded A Video


One of the coolest and most unexpected aspects to this year has been the opportunity to meet with or interact with classrooms around the country.  I try to oblige any request to speak to classes because one of my core beliefs is that if we are going to change the world, it has to start by making a positive impact on the next generation.  It is extremely humbling to have the chance to talk about my story and the mission of 366 Random Acts, and I am still taken aback that people want to hear me speak (although many of my friends say that I love the sound of my own voice).  Whether it is going in person to speak to the kids at Kelly High School here in Chicago, or sending an email to the students at Challenger Intermediate School in Goddard, Kansas, I will do it.  In late September, I received an email from Katie Netland, a school teacher at East Junior High in Mankato, Minnesota and she had a request for me.  Mrs. Netland, a communications teacher for 7th and 8th graders at East Junior High, has started "Good People Friday" where she highlights generosity and kindness in the world so that her students can see how much of it is out there.  She told me that each Friday, she spends 3-5 minutes on topics relating to kindness, and asked me if I would be interested in doing a random act for her by recording a video to show the kids.  In the video, I would highlight the story of 366 Random Acts and challenge her students to perform their own kindness, be it once a day, once a week, once a quarter, whatever.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I recorded a video and sent it over to Mrs. Netland so that she can show her students on an upcoming "Good People Friday."  And if any of the students from East Junior High are reading this, I expect my inbox (366RandomActs@gmail.com) to be flooded with random acts!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Day 332: Gave Away My Mittens

This picture came up in a random Google Search and made me laugh.

Before I get into the random act, I want to remind everyone in the Chicagoland area (or those that will be here this weekend), you are all invited to the 366 Random Acts party this Friday.  The party will be at FatPour at 2005 W Division in Chicago, and a portion of each drink package (packages are $35) will go towards Project H.O.O.D.  You don't have to pay for a package either.  If you want to come hang out and have some fun, you are more than welcome!  It should be really cool.

Speaking of really cool, the temperature here in Chicago has dropped to the point where my wife has started her annual "We have to move back to California" diatribes.  When I left to go to work today, the wind hit me like a smack to the face, and I started thinking "Hmmm maybe she's right."  I went back into my house and got a thicker coat, scarf, and gloves because I knew I was going to have to walk around in the cold.  It is difficult to find the right balance between dressing warm and being overdressed, especially when I am going in and out of buildings.  A quick aside: why haven't malls figured out that they don't have to have the heat cranked to 3000 degrees during winter months.  When you go shopping, you always see people who are sweating even though they just came in from subzero temperatures.  I appreciate a respite from the cold, but I don't need to be cooked like a Christmas ham.  I will now step off my soapbox....Back to the act.  I was walking around having just exited a really hot building, and found myself sweating.  I am someone who, when they start to sweat just keeps sweating, so I was dreading my current situation.  That is when I saw a man sitting under the EL tracks asking for change.  I immediately thought back to Sunday, and how cold I was sitting on that street corner and wanted to help him out.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I gave away my mittens to the man because his hands looked like they were freezing.  I could always get another pair, but that man might not have had the same opportunity. 


Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 331: Took A Penny, Left 50 Pennies


Powerball is up to $425 million dollars, so I thought that I would swing by and buy a lottery ticket like millions of other people.  Lottery madness is hilarious to me because people will buy a ticket when it gets up to hundreds of millions of dollars, but won't be bothered with a "mere" $8 million jackpot. I guess I can't really throw stones because I am definitely one of those people.  I spend way too much time daydreaming what I would do with the money even though in my heart of hearts, I know I won't win.  However, it doesn't hurt to dream a little.  After taxes, I would take home about $194 million which is way more than I will ever need.  The first thing I would do is give $1 million to my friend Matt to pay off a bet that we made in college (I still can't believe I didn't know Mickey Rourke was in the Enrique Iglesias "Hero" video).  I would then take at least $50 million dollars, find 50 different charities, and donate $1 million a piece.  Then I would put a ton of money in savings for Isla, treat friends and family to a great trip (possibly to space or at a minimum, Tahiti), build a cul-de-sac of houses so that my friends and family can all live near one another, and buy myself a championship belt, Batmobile, and a painting of the final scene from Rocky 3.  I will also always remember that the reason I was able to win was because of the "Take A Penny, Leave A Penny" jar at the 7-11 I went to.  I rarely carry cash on me, but I had a bunch of change and wanted to use it to buy my lottery ticket (unbeknownst to me before today, you can't buy lottery tickets with a debit card).  However, I only had a single and 97 cents on me.  Luckily, there were like 10 cents worth of pennies in the jar, so I utilized it to get my ticket.  When I got back to my car, I realized that I had a roll of pennies from a previous random act in my glove box.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I took a penny and left 50 pennies for someone else to use.  If I can't be the one to win the lottery, maybe a person will use my pennies and buy me a Batmobile.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Day 330: Walked In Someone Else's Shoes


“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” That quote is from the classic book "To Kill A Mockingbird" and it is what inspired my random act for today.  I've tried to do random acts to support the homeless throughout the year because I always imagine myself in that scenario and hold out hope that others would help if it was me.  While I think I have a basic understanding of how rough life is for them, I didn't think I could fully appreciate what they go through without experiencing it first hand.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I walked in someone else's shoes by posing as a homeless man on one of the busiest corners in the city.  I would then give all of the money collected to a person in need.

I am 6'3" and 200 lbs., but today I felt no bigger than Isla.  Hundreds upon hundreds of people walked by me without looking at or even acting as though I was invisible.  People whispered about me as they walked by, and some even snickered at me.  It actually got me pretty down and depressed.  However, every once in a while, someone would come up to me, ask me how I was doing, and put something into my tattered pink Solo cup.  Just having someone give me a quick smile and acknowledge my existence as a human being raised my spirits so much.  One man came over and tried to give me half of a deep dish pizza, so I had to let him in on what I was doing.  The one thing I kept noticing over and over again was that children kept asking their parents if they could give me something.  Sometimes the parents obliged, sometimes they didn't.  A child saw a penny on the ground, picked it up, and rather than keep it, came over to put it in my cup.  I told him to keep it for good luck.  A lot of people stopped to read the above sign, and I truly think that people gave me change because I had that Aesop quote rather than asking for something.  After a few hours, I noticed that I had collected nearly $20, mostly because, unbeknownst to me, a person had put in a $10 bill wrapped in a $1 bill.  Near the end of my time on the corner, a woman came up asking the dozens of people huddled there if they could spare any change for a meal.  No one gave her the time of day, so I got up, walked over to her and told her she could take everything that had been donated to me that day.  The looks on the people's faces as they saw a "homeless" man give all of his money to another homeless person were unforgettable.  My hope is that at least one person saw this exchange and put some thought into giving to others this holiday season.  I know that many people don't feel comfortable giving cash or change to homeless people because "they'll spend it on booze and drugs."  However, the kindness comes in the act of giving.  Whatever the person does with the money is on them.  If you want to, a simple hello, smile or extra slice of pizza could probably make someone's day.  I know it made mine. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day 329: Baked Cookies For A Fundraising Bake Sale


This morning, my family headed out like The Griswolds to pick out our Christmas tree.  Rather than driving out to the middle of nowhere like in the movie, we instead went to Home Depot (really traditional right?).  It only took us a few seconds to find the perfect tree for our house, and after a little bit of trimming, we got it in the car.  Isla sat in the back seat with the tree and spent the whole car ride staring at it.  She was probably plotting out which branches she would be stealing ornaments off of.  She has become quite the hoarder/thief lately.  We went through her toy wagon yesterday and found socks, wipes, a box of rice, a DVD, assorted dog toys, and a maternity book.  I am sure there is stuff hidden all throughout the house that we think is lost, but is simply where Isla wants it.  She just went down for a nap, but when she wakes up, she is going to help Lindsey and I decorate our Christmas tree.  It is tradition for us to go pick out our tree early in the morning, and then spend the day decorating, watching football, and drinking mulled wine (Don't worry, Isla will have almond milk).  Another tradition that is more my wife's thing is baking delicious cookies that I spend all day nibbling on.  That tradition is still happening, but today it won't just be me sampling her baked goodness.  In September, for one of my random acts, I washed a dog for the annual dog wash event put on by C.A.R.E. Animal Shelter in Evanston.  I met a lot of great people that day, and have kept in contact with Karey, one of the most enthusiastic, enjoyable people I have met during my random acts.  Karey let me know of a Holiday Faire fundraiser that the shelter was having where people could buy arts and crafts, participate in a silent auction, take your animal's picture with Santa, and purchase assorted baked goods on their Cookie Walk.  I mentioned to Karey that I would be more than happy to help, and that my wife was a tremendous amateur chef.  However, since I have to be involved in the random acts, I needed to help.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I baked cookies and donated them to the C.A.R.E. Holiday Faire.  I wish we could attend the fair, but we have a ton of work to do here around the house.  If you are in the Evanston area today, you should definitely stop by.  All proceeds from the Faire go towards helping C.A.R.E. provide the utmost care to unwanted and abandoned animals.