Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day 60: Tried To Help Others Leap!

Today is the day that makes this blog 366 Random Acts of Kindness rather than 365 Random Acts of Kindness. It is Leap Day. Like the Olympics, Presidential Elections and the White Sox making the playoffs, Leap Day only happens once every four years. Something else that happens once in four years? Graduating from high school. However, in inner city high schools across many major cities here in the United States, graduating in four years (or in many cases graduating at all) only happens around 50% of the time.

Since 1988, Leap Learning Systems has been providing high school students with the literacy and reading skills necessary to be able to graduate high school. Their programs help students within "at-risk" high schools gain the language and communication skills needed to succeed in college and/or the workforce. So today, for my random act of kindness, I am donating to Leap (which is a non-profit program) in order to help high school students make sure that, like leap day, graduation happens within a 4 year span.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 59: Gave Away Old Coats

I try not to complain about how cold it gets here in Chicago. Although this journey has inherently caused me to be an overall more positive person, the reason I don't complain has nothing to do with eliminating a negative attitude. No, the reason I don't complain is because if I do, I give my wife ammunition for her argument to move back to California. There hasn't been a 72 hour span since her first Chicago Winter in 2007 that she hasn't mentioned how nice the weather is in California and how great it would be if we moved back. I am sure, at some point, we will again live in California, but I am doing my best to postpone that for as long as possible.

Even though I try not to complain about the cold, I understand how frigid it gets here. There have been a few days in the past week that were downright miserable. I get pretty bundled up with a hat, gloves and a scarf when I go out, but when the Chicago wind hits you in the face, it is hard to not feel a chill. There are too many times when I am walking around the city that I see homeless people, in the dead of winter, with nothing more than a windbreaker (or sometimes no jacket at all). Today, for my random act of kindness, I am going to try to do my small part to change that. I have a few coats and warm vests that have been sitting in my closet for a few years now. I should have definitely donated them in the past, but hadn't for some insane reason. I am going to keep a few coats with me in the car today to give to people I see who are without a warm coat. If at the end of the day, I still have remaining coats, I will deliver them to a local physical therapy clinic, AthletiCo, who are collecting coats for One Warm Coat. You never know, maybe soon I will end up donating all my coats because I won't need them anymore since it is always nice in California.....nahhhhhhhh.

Also, thank you everyone so much for spreading the word about Saprinu/Shining Star Academy. Please continue to spread the word to everyone you know, and if you haven't already, and have the means, please donate $1.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 58: Handed Out Free Laughs

One of the things that Chicago is known for is comedy. Some of the funniest people that have ever taken a stage are either from Chicago, or have lived here at some point in their comedic lives. Chris Farley, John Belushi, Redd Foxx, Bernie Mac, Bill Murray. Between the many comedy clubs and improv houses, the city is not at a loss for places where people can laugh their behinds off. Lately, though, I have noticed that I don't see as many people laughing (or even smiling for that matter) when I am walking throughout the city. I understand that times are tough for many people, but remaining positive both in the now and for the future is imperative. Besides, as I have mentioned before, there are many positive side effects that come from laughing and smiling. Today, for my random act, I am going to give out the opportunity to laugh to a couple of people who may be in need of one. I am going to give 2 free passes to an improv show at Chicago's famous Comedy Sportz Theater. I always say that kindness begets kindness, and this is definitely an example of that. The free tickets were given to me to hand out by my building's manager Jennifer Taylor through Comedy Sportz. She asked that I give them to someone who needs a good laugh, so that is what I am searching for today (if you know someone in Chicago or visiting Chicago that you think fits that criteria, send me an email at You never know, the person who gets the tickets might be witnessing the next superstar of comedy in the making.

Also, I wanted to remind everyone of my mission for this week. If you can, please donate $1 to to help build the school/help Avi's family. If not, please spread the word to as many people as possible!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 57: Helped Build a School

Being able to see first hand due to my wife being a teacher, I know the importance of education. I know the impact that it has on someone's life and their future. Unfortunately, I also know that not all education is equal (and in some instances, even existent). Socioeconomic status should never determine the quality or availability of education for anyone...even in one of the most remote places on Earth.

In late 2009, Brooke Laura took a trip to Kathmandu to work at a children's' home and trek throughout Nepal. During her trip, she became close friends with her tour guide, Sudan, and through many discussions learned that educational opportunities in Nepal were few and far between. Brooke, someone who seems to have always been a very giving and selfless person, knew she wanted to do something. After 8 days of discussions during her trip, Brooke and Sudan came up with an idea. This idea would allow children in one of the most remote regions of Nepal to receive an education. With the blessings of the community, Sudan and his family moved their lives into a single room, and donated the rest of their home so that the Shining Star Academy/Saprinu could be born. From the start, children flocked to the school, and more children are looking to join the school each day. Sudan's home can not support the sheer number of students, so Brooke, Sudan and the community need to build a larger facility. They want to be able to provide a promising education to as many people as possible, but as of now, they don't have the means to do that. That is where my random act of kindness comes into play.

I never expected 366 Random Acts to spread as far and wide as it has. In fact, it is one of the most overwhelming aspects of all of this. Although I never imagined the reach that this could have, I can now see how awesome people are all around the world, and the impact that we as a group can have. So today, for my random act of kindness, I am donating $1 to help build the new Shining Star Academy. I am then going to spread the word about it to everyone I know and try to get as many people worldwide to donate at least $1 to this cause. I want to see the impact that we can have, so if you have the means, please donate $1. If not, please spread the word to as many people as you know. Tweet it out, Facebook it, send smoke signals and morse code about it. Whatever it takes.

The reason why I want to do this is because Sudan, who so selflessly gave up his home and has been acting as principal of Shining Star, has recently been struck with devastating news. His son, Avi, after 2 long and arduous trips to India, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma of the spine. There are moves in the works to try to get Avi to St. Jude's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, but Sudan and his family have had to use anything and everything they have in order to save Avi. I want to try to do my part to take as much stress off of the family as possible. Concentrating on getting his son better should be priority number one, and I want to help make it that way. So again, please spread the word to as many people as possible, and if you have the means, even a $1 donation would go a long way.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day 56: Donated Diapers

It is scary how quickly my daughter is growing. Although it is cliche, it seems like only yesterday she was a newborn that I could easily hold like a football. Now, she is in the 85th percentile in weight and height, and it seems like she doubles in size every week. One of the ways that we have been able to tell how big she is getting is by how quickly she goes through diaper sizes. We have purchased a number of diapers for her, and she has outgrown them before we could ever use them on her. We primarily use cloth diapers for her in an effort to stay Eco-friendly, but have a bunch of disposables left over from the ones that we use at night time and for emergencies. Rather than throw all of these diapers away, I figured there was something we could do with them.

Using disposable diapers for a baby can cost upwards of $100 a month. Although it is a more inexpensive option, cloth diapers are many times not feasible for families that do not have access to a washing machine because many laundromats don't allow them to be cleaned there. Also, for working parents who utilize day care, these facilities typically require disposable diapers. After doing some research on what I could do with our many unused diapers, I came across Bundle of Joy, which is Chicago's first and only diaper bank. It is their goal to make sure that every Chicago family has access to clean diapers. So today's random act of kindness was to donate our unused diapers to a church which serves as a drop off location for Bundle of Joy. I am sure the diapers will definitely be used by a family in need, and my hope is that others will also find a way to donate their unused diapers. And, in the amount of time it took me to write this post, I noticed (actually smelled), that Isla is in need of another diaper, so I must go attend to that.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day 55: Carried Groceries for People

To me, carrying groceries is an art form and a feat of strength. If I need to make more than one trip to get all of the groceries from our car to our home, I view it as a complete and utter failure. I will have bags all the way up my arms, around my neck and even in my mouth if it means that I only have to make one trip. I may be weird, but I really look forward to carrying the groceries up. So today's random act will not only give me the opportunity to spread kindness, but also give me the chance to show off my carrying skills to strangers. This evening, I am going to stand outside of a local grocery store, carry people's groceries to their car and help them load it up. I will also take the opportunity to return any and all carts to the cart corral. Maybe I will wear a sleeveless shirt while I do this to show off my glamour muscles (or lack thereof).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 54: Gave Away Free Wishes UPDATE!!

As a child, if I went past a fountain, I would beg my mom for a coin so that I could make a wish. Anytime I saw a clock that read 11:11, I made a wish. I pretty much cleared my back yard of dandelions because I would blow the seeds away and make hundreds of wishes. Many times, I wanted to blow out the candles at other kids' birthday parties, simply because I wanted the opportunity to make as many wishes as possible. No matter what, I always had the hope that my wishes could come true. Even though I never met Michael Jordan, won all the money on Earth, or gained super powers, I never stopped wishing...until recently. I started thinking about my life and how since meeting my wife and being blessed with my daughter, combined with the rest of my friends and family, that wishing for anything more than the love that I have from/for them would just be selfish.

One of my goals in the mission is to try to inspire hope in others. Hope that the world can be a kinder place, that things will get better, and that, even if they are in ways you didn't imagine, wishes do come true. So today, for my random act of kindness, I want to do something small to remind everyone of the little kid inside of them who wished for big things and always had hope that they would come true. Today, I am going to take a jar full of pennies, stand in front of a fountain in downtown Chicago with a sign that says "Free Wishes" and allow people to take a penny and make a wish. I know from experience that a single Penny can have a huge impact on your life. Maybe the pennies I give out today will have that same impact for others. So even if, like Skee Lo above, people wish they were a little bit taller, wish they were a baller, or wish they had a girl who looked good so they could call her, they will get their opportunity today.

UPDATE: So I learned a couple of things today. First, Chicago's Water Tower Place really hates when people throw coins into their fountain. It apparently clogs the drains and they don't allow it. Second, every outdoor fountain I know of in the city is covered for the winter or has the water turned off. As you could imagine, this somewhat hindered my plans. However, I am not easily derailed and continued with my mission to give people free wishes. I took a jar and my handy "Free Wishes" sign and posted near a busy intersection during rush hour. I then passed out pennies to whomever wanted one, make a wish on it, and place it in my jar. I made each person the promise that I will deliver the pennies to a fountain once they are re-opened. People weren't as receptive to the free wishes as they were to the hugs. I think people thought that it was a creative way to ask for change even though that wasn't my plan. All in all, I was able to get about 30+ wishes that I will surely deliver to a fountain as soon as possible.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day 53: Sent A Smile

It has been proven that laughing and smiling lowers blood pressure, relieves stress and boosts your immune system. I have always been a person who enjoys joking around to get people to laugh and smile, mostly because I don't like the alternative (I guess I am a health guru by default as well). So far we have told a joke, recorded people telling jokes, and helped someone smile. I intend to find as many things on this journey that are out there that double as both a way to make people smile, as well as a way to make people's lives better at the same time.

Yesterday, one of our Facebook friends suggested that I send an eSmile. As we continue to collect our pop tabs to donate for the Ronald McDonald House, there is a way that we can compound the amount sent the this great charity. HP has made a pledge to donate $1 to the Ronald McDonald House for every eSmile that is sent through their website. So for today's random act, my daughter "volunteered" to send an eSmile to assist the Ronald McDonald House in helping the families of children hospitalized with very serious diseases. It is 100% free to anyone who wants to participate, so please visit the above site to send a smile, well wishes, or a sketch of someone smiling. Oh, and here is a picture of my daughter's smile. She means no offense by sticking out her tongue, it is simply a reflex of her happiness.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day 52: Will Have No Negative Words or Thoughts All Day

One of the drawbacks of all of the attention that 366 Random Acts has been getting is the anonymous posters on this blog and other media outlets that think I am doing my kindness mission for personal gain or benefit. Luckily, I am able to laugh at the comments because I know in my heart why I am doing this. I wish that I had the ability to find every person who has written a negative comment and perform a random act of kindness for them. This way, rather than spreading negativity, they can pay it forward and help to promote kindness and positivity. I will say, though, that I am not guilt free when it comes to making negative comments or negative anonymous posts. Until I was in this position, I never really thought of the impact that my internet comments could have on people. So from this day forward, I am not going to comment on any story unless it is positive and/or constructive. However, for today's random act of kindness, I am going to take it one step further. For the whole day, I refuse to allow negative thoughts to come into my mind or negative words come out of my mouth. If any sort of cattiness, disparaging remarks, or overall negativity comes into my mind, I am going to think about my family and friends to immediately change my tune. I refuse to allow myself to make anyone's day worse due to my words or actions. Sarcasm and cynicism be damned too. Today, my world is going to be 100% positive, and I challenge everyone reading this blog to do the same. Let's all try to make the world a more positive place by eliminating the thoughts and words that bring us and others down.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Day 51: Gave Away a Free Sandwich

I am sure most people have a frequent buyer/diner card to some place in their purse or wallet. One of those deals where if you buy 9 of something, you get your tenth one for free. Maybe it is just me, but I get really excited when I earn my free item. When I get that final stamp or hole punch, I feel like I won something (even though I'm only winning more calories and higher cholesterol). There are so many of these types of cards or free giveaways that I come across, and I always am so pumped when I am able to use them.

Recently I was watching an awards show with my wife and I started complaining when they showed the free gift bags that all of the celebrities received. I said to her, "Why do they get all of this free stuff when they could easily afford it?" The very next day, I went to a local place here in Chicago to eat, and I got the stamp for my free sandwich. When I got the stamp, I kind of felt like I was a hypocrite for ragging on the celebrities because I knew that paying for my next sandwich wasn't really outside of my means, and that there are those who could really benefit from a free meal.

So today's random act of kindness will be to give my free sandwich meal card to a homeless person near the restaurant. Moving forward, any time I get something for free as a result of my previous purchases, I am going to make sure that I give the free item to someone in need. I think it will provide a little more excitement for the person receiving it than I could ever get from earning that final stamp.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day 50: Sat On A Roof

Today is the last day of National Random Act of Kindness Week. My theme of this week was to bring awareness to those who are dedicated to spreading good and kindness throughout the world (and in my wife's case, throughout my world). This past Thursday, one of our Twitter followers reached out to me to let me know about someone who is BEYOND dedicated to making our world a better place. Pastor Corey Brooks of the New Beginnings Church on the South Side of Chicago is that someone.

More young people are killed in Chicago than any other American city. Since 2008, over 500 youth have been the victims of homicides. Unfortunately, this is a statistic that has been on the rise as of recent months. Pastor Brooks has seen this trend, and he has had enough of it. He knew typical methods to bring about change weren't enough so he came up with a plan to both shine a broader spotlight on the problems in the neighborhood as well as a way to help bring about change within it.

Since late November 2011, Pastor Brooks has been living in a tent atop an abandoned motel across from the New Beginnings Church. This motel was known as a place that fostered prostitution, drug dealing, and violent crime. After being a part of the successful movement to shut down the motel, Pastor Brooks knew there was more to be done. So he set up his tent on top of the motel with a mission and a goal. His mission, Project H.O.O.D (Helping Others Obtain Destiny), is to live on top of that motel, braving the elements, in order to raise money to purchase it, demolish it, and build a community center on top of it. He is going to be living in his tent until he reaches his goal of raising $450,000 to complete his mission. This community center is going to have mixed income housing, commercial space for businesses to spark the local economy, sports and recreation areas for people to utilize, and a performing arts theater. So for today's random act of kindness, I visited Pastor Brooks on top of the roof, and vowed to bring awareness to his cause. He is within striking distance of accomplishing his goal (only $93,000 away!), and is hoping to get there soon. I know times are tough for many, but if you have the means to even donate a dollar or two, the 366 Random Acts community can have a big impact on helping Pastor Brooks reach his goal.

Although this is the end of Random Acts of Kindness week, we are just starting to hit our stride. These past 50 days have been incredible to say the least, and I can't wait to keep on this journey!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day 49: Cleaned the Entire House

My wife is my everything. She is also everything that anyone could ever ask for in a wife. She is beautiful, kindhearted, sweet, smart, a phenomenal mother, a delicious chef. I could honestly do 366 Days of Great Attributes for Lindsey and never mention the same one twice. She does so much for my daughter and I, and I sometimes feel between my work schedule, caring for Isla and my random acts, I haven't been showing my appreciation for her as I have in the past.

Anyone that knows Lindsey knows that she really likes having a clean house (think Danny Tanner from Full House). Since returning to work after her maternity leave, she has been stressed out by the fact that our hectic schedules have left little to no time to clean. It isn't that I am misogynistic and expect her to clean, but let's just say she is somewhat particular about the way she cleans. So today, for my random act of kindness, I cleaned the entire house floor to ceiling. My wife took my daughter to a play date for a couple of hours, so I knew I had to move quickly. I was able to finish about 5 minutes before they got home. When I opened the door, I told my wife that she was the recipient of today's random act. She didn't know what I was talking about, but when she walked in, she instantly started to cry. Right then I realized how much stress she was under, and I was happy I could help relieve some of it. I wanted her to know how much I truly appreciate everything she does and how much I love her. She is so excited to just kick back and relax on the couch for the rest of the night!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Day 48: Passed Out Free Soup

We have had an unseasonably warm (well, not warm, but not subzero) winter here in Chicago. This has been tremendous because the homeless of the city haven't had to endure as terrible of weather conditions as is usual here. However, it is still difficult, and I will never be able to fully appreciate/understand what they go through on a daily basis to survive. I try to give to the homeless as much as I feasibly can, but it breaks my heart anytime I don't have any cash or change in my pocket to give to someone. I just wish I had the means to give as many people as possible a nice warm meal. Well today, for my random act of kindness, I am going to try to do just that.

One of the best things I have experienced since starting this journey is the people in this world who will, without prompting, selflessly give back to others and look to help me on my journey. Whether it is Myrna, who so graciously donated food and blankets for me to give to a local church that helps the homeless, or the numerous others who have volunteered to participate in my random acts. Well recently, another one of these great people reached out to me. Bill Davis of Bergstein's Deli gave me a call and said he would like to donate to my cause. After speaking to Bill, I was blown away by how he wanted to help. He offered to take me around in the Bergstein's Deli Food Truck and pass out their Chicken Noodle Soup to people...FOR FREE! So, thanks to Bill and everyone else at Bergstein's, today's random act of kindness will be to pass out free soup to those in need. I continue to be amazed by the kindness of others, and am happy to have come across such awesome people.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 47: Donated a Dress to a Princess

Ruffles, feathers, sequence and frilly lace. I am not describing someone's cart as they check out from Joann Fabrics. No, I am describing my daughter's wardrobe. My wife has made it her duty to make my daughter a girly girl and as much of a fashionista as possible. Based on the way my daughter already stares at her clothes (my wife shows her every outfit she buys for her) and gets fussy when I put her in non-matching outfits, I would say that my wife's mission has been a success.

When I first found out that we were having a daughter, many things raced through my mind (including whether to buy a baseball bat or learn Mixed Martial Arts to scare off any potential future boyfriends). Besides warding off any and all males until she was 30, I kept thinking about two things: walking her down the aisle at her wedding and watching her take pictures for school dances. I just kept picturing how beautiful my daughter would look, and how I would do everything in my power to give her the ability to have whatever fancy dresses she ever wanted. I want to be able to make her feel like a princess (or a president/doctor/lawyer).

I think every girl should be afforded the opportunity to feel like a princess, so for today's random act of kindness, I am going to do my part to help that cause. With the help of my wife's closet (don't worry, I have her permission), I am going to be donating a fancy dress to The Princess Project. The Princess Project works to "promote self confidence and individual beauty" by donating free prom dresses to girls in high school who are not able to afford them. With the help of these dresses, thousands of girls each year are able to enjoy one of the marquee nights in the world of a high schooler. If you have any recent new or gently used dresses that you believe a girl would want to wear to prom, please visit the above link for details on how to send. Now, I must get to work because I just got queasy thinking about how I am going to pay for prom and a wedding.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day 46: Became A Pen Pal to a Sick Child

Last week, my daughter came down with her first cold. It really was nothing more than a cough and a stuffed nose, but seeing her snort like a pug freaked me out. Seeing my daughter sick scared me, but the fact that she kept laughing and smiling at me helped to ease my tension. Sadly, there are children out there who are MUCH sicker than Isla was last week, and my heart breaks when I think about that. My job requires me to be in doctor's offices and hospital buildings, so it isn't a rare sight for me to see children who have very serious diseases, some of which are life threatening. However, one thing that I have noticed more often than not with these children is that they are typically smiling. These kids are so tough that even in the face of terrible diseases, they very rarely lose their positivity and youthful joy. I wanted to do a random act of kindness that can hopefully help to keep that smile on their faces even in the toughest times. One of our blog followers mentioned a website to me called Post Pals. Post Pals allows you the opportunity to become a pen pal with children in the UK suffering from life-threatening diseases. You are able to email, send letters, care packages, etc. So for today's random act, I am sending an email and a handwritten letter to a child to hopefully brighten their day and help sustain their smile. If interested in spreading world wide kindness, visit Post Pals. If you want to do something locally, there are similar groups here in the US such as Love Letters: Random Cards of Kindness and Reachout America that I plan on utilizing very soon as well. There is nothing more uplifting than a child's smile, so let's try to make as many smile as we can!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day 45: Passed Out Valentines to Strangers

My Valentines

I have been blessed with having two wonderful and beautiful Valentines. I am thankful every day for the love that I have from (and for) my wife and my daughter. Tonight, we will be celebrating our first Valentine's Day together as a family, as I attempt to cook a delicious dinner for my wife and make a delicious bottle for my daughter. Although some see Valentine's Day as nothing more than a "Hallmark Holiday," I see it as an opportunity to reiterate the feelings that you have for your loved ones. However, today, I am not only showing love to those I already know. Instead, I am going to show complete strangers some love this Valentine's Day. For my random act of kindness, I am going to be passing out Valentine's cards to strangers in downtown Chicago. I am very interested in the response I get, but based off of how people were welcoming to the compliments and hugs, I think it will go OK. Also, since this week is a week to highlight organizations helping others, I ask that you visit The Breast Cancer Site. All you need to do is click on the button in the middle of the screen, and the sponsors of the site will pay for free mammograms for women. It is a quick and easy way to help pass the Valentine's spirit on to others.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 44: Bought a T-Shirt

I haven't really had any specific themes to any of my random acts, or had a pattern that I have followed. This is due to the fact that I try to be as spur of the moment and random as possible in selecting these acts. However, with today being the start of Random Act of Kindness Week worldwide, I thought I would do something more specific. A goal of this journey is to bring a focus on people or groups that are trying to spread goodness and kindness. So this week, some of my random acts will double as a way for me to bring about awareness of those who are doing selfless work for other people.

I have probably used the phrase "I am dying of thirst" too many times to count. It is obviously an exaggeration, but I have never really thought of what it would be like to actually have that happen. There are over a billion people on this planet that don't have access to clean water. Diseases brought about by dirty water kills more people every year than "all forms of violence combined, including war." While those stats are alarming, even more eye-opening (and promising) is the ease by which we can help change this problem. I recently learned of the mission of Kyle Morrow and his website Kyle is selling t-shirts on his site, with the proceeds from the purchases going towards providing clean water to those in need. For every shirt purchased, one person will gain access to clean drinking water for 25 YEARS!! So today's random act of kindness was to not just buy a t-shirt, but to also help another human being live a better life by having access to a better water source.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Day 43: Gave Away A Nintendo Wii

Since my daughter was born, I haven't really had the opportunity to play video games. I was never really a big time gamer, but with the new responsibilities I have as a father, I don't really ever get (or even want) to play. A few days ago I received a call from my mom and she mentioned that her co-worker, who is a pastor outside of work, was looking to get a video game system for the after school program for children in his church. Due to recent economic struggles for both the community and the church, it wasn't really in the budget to add a new video game system. Having after school activities for the children helps to keep them in a positive environment since the neighborhood has seen a downturn due to economic issues. So today's random act of kindness is to donate my Nintendo Wii, Wii Fit, and all of my games to the church. I know that the church will get better use out of it than I ever could, and I hope the children (and I am sure some adults) have a tremendously fun time playing with it.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Day 42: Donated An Old Cell Phone

Start reading this post. Now count to 9. . . . . . . . .Done? In the short amount of time that you were counting, a woman in the United States was assaulted or beaten. Domestic violence, more so than car accidents and muggings combined, is the leading cause of injury to women. Not only are the women directly affected, but it is estimated that 10 million children ANNUALLY witness some form of domestic violence. I apologize for the negative tone to start this post, but there are few things in this world that anger me more than the domestic abuse of women. Since this blog is about positivity and kindness, rather than just throw out alarming statistics and rant about the problem, I want to do my small part to help. Today, for my random act of kindness, I am donating my old cell phone to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The NCADV takes donated cell phones, refurbishes them, and sells them. They then use the money earned to fund programs that empower victims of domestic violence and helps them stay free from abuse, supports legislation aimed at ending domestic abuse, and to provide free cosmetic and reconstructive surgery to victims who bear the scars of abuse. I ask that if anyone has an old cell phone laying around, please visit the NCADV's website, and follow the steps to donate it to help support this cause. Also, below is a picture of me with the cell phone I donated (I had to leave you with some thing to smile about).

Friday, February 10, 2012

Day 41: Answered Trivia...To Help Feed the Hungry

Fact: I am incredible at trivia. I'm not sure why I have never tried to get on a game show like Jeopardy or Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, but I am supremely confident that I would do well on them. I have never really had the opportunity to utilize my useless knowledge for anything more than winning board games, but always thought there was some way I could. After recently discovering the website Free Rice, that has changed. Free Rice is a non-profit website run by the United Nations World Food Programme that allows users the chance to answer trivia questions in a number of different categories with each correct answer resulting in 10 grains of rice being donated to the hungry. Today, for my random act of kindness, I logged on to the site and began answering questions, and within 20 minutes, had donated over 1200 grains of rice. I told my wife about this random act, and she is going to get her students to log on because it is something that can be both educational and helpful to others. This got me to thinking about the impact that we, the 366 Random Acts community, could have as a group. So I invite you to go to the website, and search for the 366 Random Acts group that I created, join, and answer questions whenever you have time. I really think that the amount of food we could get donated could be incredible. If you have any questions on how to join the group, please email me at

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Day 40: Helped Someone Smile

Every year, over 165,000 children are born with cleft lip or palate. Many of these children are born in developing nations that don't have the funds or the means to repair this disorder. These children struggle with eating and speaking properly, and many aren't allowed to attend school or work a job as they grow older. An organization called Smile Train is dedicated to providing free surgeries to children around the world who were born with cleft lip and palate.

I had seen the commercials before, but sadly never paid much attention to them or knew the extent of how cleft palate affected these children. Last night that changed when I received an email from the mother of an amazing young boy. A woman named Tanna sent me an email describing the mission of her son Samuel. Samuel is an 11 year old boy who, in December, saw a commercial for Smile Train. Instead of buying something for himself, Samuel wanted to use the money he received for Christmas and his birthday to fund one of the cleft palate surgeries (A single surgery can be funded with only $250!). Since then, Samuel has raised money to pay for 4 surgeries! After learning about Samuel, I was inspired to both help a child afflicted with cleft palate and to help Samuel continue his mission of giving. So today, for my random act of kindness, I visited Samuel's Giving Page, and donated towards his cause. It wasn't very much, but I was hoping that I could spread the word, and some of our wonderful followers may be able to help this young man on his quest to allow others a chance at a normal life. Even if you aren't able to give, please visit the site and if leave a message for Samuel if you so choose.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Day 39: Sent Encouragement and Well Wishes

I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead. Some come from behind.
But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see.
Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!

-Dr. Seuss

I have been overwhelmed by the response that this journey has gotten. People have thanked me for what I have done, some even saying I am an inspiration. While I truly appreciate the kind words that have been sent my way (and am very humbled by them), I know that there are others out there who are true inspirations.

I recently learned from Debbie, one of our Facebook followers, about a young girl named Katie Shores who is one such inspiration. On January 9th of this year, Katie and her mother were involved in a car accident which left Katie with critical injuries. Katie has been battling injuries to her kidney and liver in the Johns Hopkins ICU since, and has slowly been making progress. I have been following Katie's progress on her Carepages account and I am happy to pass along that as of yesterday Katie is out of the ICU. I'm not sure why I hadn't yet, but today, as my random act of kindness, I wanted to pass along my well wishes and encouragement to Katie to keep fighting. For such a young girl, she has shown such strength in the face of adversity. I am going to continue to log on to monitor her progress, and look forward to her recovery. If you get a chance, please visit the above link and send along your well wishes to Katie.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Day 38: Bought Lunch for Firefighters

I burned my hand on a hot bag of microwave popcorn the other day. Based on my shriek, you would have thought that I had temporarily morphed into a 7 year old girl. I threw a bag of frozen corn onto the burn, and whined about it to my wife for the rest of the evening. This incident has led me to swear off microwave popcorn for the foreseeable future out of my fear of another burn.

The reason I bring up this story is because it is my roundabout way of making a segue into the idea of fear. Or rather, the idea of fearlessness. Fearlessness is something embodied by the men and women who call themselves firefighters. Granted, I am being incredibly wimpy in this instance, but the fact that I am unwilling to grab a hot bag of popcorn, yet there are those out there willing to risk their lives by running into a burning building speaks volumes of their bravery and character.

KIND Healthy Snacks does a monthly mission of kindness on a given day of each month. February's/Today's mission is to express gratitude in some way to those who serve. I thought I would follow their suggestion and buy lunch for the Engine 4 Firefighters here in Chicago for my random act of kindness today. I stopped in to let the guys know that I was going to get their lunch, and they were more than grateful. They even gave me a T-shirt and took a picture with me in front of one of the fire trucks. I wanted to let them know that there are people out there who really appreciate what they do and the risks that they take. There was a small fire in my building last Saturday night, and I found out that the Engine 4 guys were the first ones on the scene. I guess this is just my small way of paying them back for keeping my family safe.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Day 37: Started Collecting Pop Tabs

Every year in elementary school, we would have a portion of the year that we collected pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House (Noticed I said pop and not soda. This is because it is called pop.). I always looked forward to this because it meant that I had an excuse to drink insane amounts of pop. I could easily plow through a 12 pack of Dr. Pepper within a couple of days. To a young boy, the joy of ripping the tab off of the can and adding it to my ever growing pile was only matched by watching Michael Jordan play basketball and also by successfully coloring inside the lines. As I collected to tabs and eventually turned them into my teacher, I never really thought about or appreciated what I was doing. Today, I don't drink nearly as much pop as I used to. However, I do have a better understanding of the impact that the RMHC Pop Tab Collections have. An enormous amount of money (in some instances, tens of thousands of dollars per RMHC chapter) is raised for families to have a "home away from home" for little or no cost nearby their hospitalized children struggling with illness. So for today's random act of kindness, I am embarking on a side mission. From now until the end of March, I am collecting any and all pop (or beer) tabs. I hope my teeth don't fall out from all of the pop I am prepared to consume. If anyone wants to donate tabs, please let me know at

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Day 36: Played With Older Cats & Dogs at The Anti-Cruelty Society

It is Super Bowl Sunday, which means I am only a few hours away from looking forward to the Bears winning it all next year (I am starting to feel like a Cubs fan). Before I begin my annual gorgefest, I need to perform my random act of kindness on someone...or something. Every random act of kindness done to this point has been towards another human being. However, kindness doesn't have to be directed only at people. Today, I am going to be kind to some furry friends. I am going to a local anti-cruelty society with my wife and daughter to play with dogs and cats. Any time I have ever gone to a shelter, I have always tried to find kittens and puppies and spent all of my time with them. I never really thought twice about it. However, there are numerous older animals that don't get as much attention, but would really benefit from it. Not to go all Sarah McLachlan on you, but if you get a chance, please go down to your local ASPCA, Anti-Cruelty Society or animal shelter and spend some time with (or even adopt) a pet. It is actually quite soothing and calming, which is something I need as another Chicago Bears season is on the horizon.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Day 35: Paid for Someone's Train Pass

There are some people out there that, no matter the circumstance or sacrifice, will do everything in their power to help you. They are the type of person that will do so much for others but never ask for or expect anything in return. A person so selfless and caring that 366 random acts of kindness is something that they accomplish in a week without even knowing it. Donna Lawrence is this type of person.

I have known Donna for about 2 years, and in that time, she has shown that she is one of the sweetest and most caring people that I have ever met. Her selflessness and kindness is infectious, and even on your worst day, she is someone that can pick you up with a few words and a smile. She is someone that doesn't ever expect reciprocity for her kindness, but deserves it so much. Recently, I learned that Donna has faced a couple of hardships. On top of a recent surgery, her mortgage payment was recently raised over $300 and her train pass went up 30%. So for a random act of kindness, I wanted to try to help alleviate some of that stress for her. I am going to take care of Donna's train pass. It is as more so a thank you for everything she has done for those around her than a random act of kindness, and she deserves it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Day 34: Recorded People Telling Jokes

Since learning about the Jokes 4 Miles campaign (please click the link to learn more about it), I have met with and been in contact with Len Austrevich (Miles' father) to let him know I want to help out in any way possible. Something about Len and Miles' mission to fight cancer with humor really struck a cord with me, and so I want to do anything in my power to assist them. Recently, Len was able to coordinate an event at the Chicagoland area Leona's Restaurants where people can come and tell jokes from 5-11 PM. Leona's has also promised to donate 20% of all sales to Miles' cause. Here is where my random act of kindness comes into play. Len needs volunteers to go to the different locations to record people telling the jokes. I am going to meet up later this evening, bring my Flip Cam, and hopefully record hundreds of hilarious jokes told by patrons. However, Len is still in need of some volunteers, so if you live in the Chicagoland area, and have even an hour of time to donate, your help would be very much appreciated. If you are interested, please call 773-669-7546 or email

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day 33: Took a Soldier and His Family to a Game

As you have probably noticed, I am a huge fan of supporting the men and women of our armed forces. They give up so much to protect our freedoms and don't ever ask for anything in return. So as this mission of kindness continues, you will see numerous acts done for soldiers both home and abroad. Anything in my power that I can do to show my gratitude towards a soldier will be done. Even if it is something as simple as saying a quick "Thank you", I encourage you to express your appreciation to them in some way.

Today's random act of kindness is one of my attempts to thank a soldier for all that he has done. Along with my wife, I am going to be taking Army Staff Sgt. John La Giglia and his family to a Northwestern basketball game. Staff Sgt. La Giglia recently returned home to Chicago from his second tour in the Middle East and has been serving in the military since 2000. I can barely stay away from my wife and daughter for a few days, so I can't even imagine what he and his family have endured being away from each another for so long. Although I will surely say it later this evening, I want to use this forum to say thank you to Staff Sgt. La Giglia (and all of the men and women of our armed forces). Thank you for making our world a safer place. Thank you for sacrificing so much for your family, for your friends, and even for strangers. Thank you for being someone that my daughter can look up to as a role model as she grows older. Tonight should be a blast!

UPDATE: Tonight was, in fact, a blast. John and his family couldn't have been nicer, and I am so happy that they were able to go. Northwestern surprised everyone by making John and his family honorary captains for the game. They brought them down for a ceremony at midcourt and presented John with a jersey with his name on it. Overall, it was a tremendous night.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day 32: Put Change in Washing & Vending Machines

The other day I went to go buy a water at a vending machine. When I went to go put in my money, I noticed a dollar bill was taped to the machine with a little note that read "Use Me." Since I already had my money out, and wanted someone else to get the benefit of the dollar, I left it taped there. Although I didn't use the dollar, I am going to use their idea. As I have always stated, getting kindness ideas and suggestions from others is something I welcome. So today, for my random act of kindness, the anonymous person who left the money at the machine has inspired me to do the same as they did. Before leaving my house for work, I am going to put coins into some of the washing machines in my building. Also, I am going to carry dollar bills, coins and tape, and whenever I pass a vending machine, I am going to tape the money near the payment slot. Although I won't be able to know if it happens, I am hoping that people see it and do the same!