not-so-random Acts of Kindness List

I’d call it the Random Act of Kindness List, but nothing about these acts is random. Isn’t it time we made kindness intentional? What would you add to my list? And will you join me in committing to kindness?

A Helping Hand by Jean-Paul Haag (1854-1906) via Wikimedia Commons

  • Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, women’s shelter, or mission. If you’re nervous, recruit a friend and do it together.
  • Put together ziplock bags of basic toiletries, snacks, reading material, and the like to hand to the homeless. Introduce yourself and shake each person’s hand when you give them one.
  • When you take your kids for haircuts, offer to take the neighbor kids as well.
  • Be intentional about giving away items of clothing and hand-me-downs. Who could use them the most? Is there someone in your neighborhood or a child at ballet class who seems to be in need? A single mother who never has money to buy herself something nice? If you feel they’d be embarrassed, leave the items anonymously. And it never hurts to purchase something new for them, either!
  • Send a handwritten letter to a loved one.
  • Take someone a homemade lunch at work. Maybe your spouse or your parent, or maybe just the overworked lady at the DMV.
  • Next time you grocery shop, bring an extra bit of money (if it takes a while to save this up, it’ll feel even sweeter), then pay for a stranger’s groceries.
  • Leave a huge tip for a waiter/waitress, even if all you bought was a bagel.
  • Tell a stranger you really like their hair/shoes/smile.
  • Tell a frazzled mom or dad at the store that they’re doing a great job.
  • Participate in a fundraiser.
  • Next time you feel yourself ready to engage in a verbal attack on social media, take a deep breath, then be kind instead. Offer words of encouragement or a compliment.
  • Leave cookies for your mail delivery person or garbage man/woman.
  • Visit a rest home and listen to the residents’ stories.
  • After a haircut, donate your hair to Wigs For Kids or Locks of Love.
  • Next time you wash your car or cut your lawn, do the same for your neighbor’s.
  • Bring a bottle of wine or a home-cooked meal to someone new on your street. Don’t have anyone new? Take it to the family you know the least and apologize for taking so long to get to know them!
  • Put your patio furniture in the front lawn instead of the back. Socialize with all who walk by. Make it a once-a-week habit.
  • Offer to take someone’s children to the movies or the park for an afternoon.
  • Sign up for something new: an art class or karate or photography. Pay for someone else to go, too.
  • Put coins in meters for cars that are about to expire.
  • Hide dollars in hiding places in the dollar store. Especially in the toy aisle.
  • Write letters or make a care package for a deployed soldier.
  • Make dinner for a family with a new baby or who has a member who is ill.
  • Take brownies to the fire house for the firefighters, or to the police station for the officers.
  • Donate towels and blankets to the humane society.
  • Adopt a stray, or if you can’t, pay for someone else to do so.
  • Forgive someone who you’ve been holding a grudge against.

Talk about win-win. When you make someone else feel good, you feel good! Help me add to my list.


Leave a comment 58 Comments

  1. Deborah Fischer says:

    These are all fabulous! I think the last one is the hardest.

    • Sarah Beth says:

      I agree. So very hard. Wish I knew how..

      • Carolyn says:

        I’ve been taught the surest way to forgiveness is to first, pray for the willingness to forgive. Once you feel willing, then you pray for that person beautiful and loving things (it was suggested to me to think of what & how I pray for family and friends and employ that), and you do so every day for at least 2 weeks and perhaps everytime you think of this person.

        During the first several days I tried this, I really didn’t mean what I prayed for. I was angry. But my instructions were to persist and to persist until I experienced a wonderous thing and I would know THAT when I did. It has worked for me every time, although sometimes I’ve had to pray for more than 2 weeks;)!

        • Rae-Ann Fugate says:

          This is a great testament to the help we can receive from the Holy Spirit when we pray like this. I prayed before dinner with my step-grandson at the time one time with the whole family there. It is something we always do. When we had finished he asked, “how do you know how to pray like that?” I replied that praying was nothing more than bowing your head and talking to God as you would to a friend. That’s what God tells us to do. I’m glad you have learned this wonderful lesson as I did many years ago.

  2. Barbara Criss says:

    Love these ideas! The one I have always done is adopt strays. I have always helped any animal I saw that needed help. And yes—I am whipped out by animals–seven cats and seven dogs at the present. But if we all helped each animal we could and took proper care of them—there would be no need for animal shelters. Animals are the love of my life.

    • Kelly says:

      Me too, Barbara! I have 2 dogs and 2 cats, all rescued/ adopted and I too have spent my life helping animals. Thank you for all you are doing to help animals. Good on ya as my dad would say!🐶🐶🐶🐱🐱🐱

  3. Joan Hendrix says:

    All excellent. Harder to execute. Mine are on a much smaller scale.

  4. Lorraine Hess says:

    My husband & I moved our double swing to the front yard about 2 years ago. Every evening, weather permitting, we have our coffee out there around 4:30. We like to talk to the people taking their evening walks. I think they enjoy it too because they say they miss us when we’re not there.

  5. Bobbie says:

    Excellent ideas! If you are older especially volunteer to teach Sunday school. Let kids see older men and women of faith in action. So much to learn from each other.

  6. Lisa says:

    My server college daughter was left a $50 tip on a $40 meal by a young couple one dinner shift. Lifted her little life for weeks….and spent on a textbook and sweet tea:)

  7. Michele Bilka says:

    When you pass someone like a busy mom with active little ones or an elderly person trying to do something simple for you but not for them a little eye contact, a smile & a few kind words can make all the difference in the world to them. In addition to the many kindnesses you’ve mentioned Mary Jane. You’re a wonderful role model!

  8. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Great ideas and there are so many others once you put your mind to thinking about how to help others. Here is an easy one I always try to do. When I have an interaction at the grocery store, on the phone, anywhere for that matter, I always try to remember to say have a good day when I leave. It is a simple thing to do and people always smile and respond with a thank-you. Kindness can simply be looking someone in the eye and wish them well. I know it always makes me feel good when someone does it to me.

  9. Joan Price says:

    Excellent ideas! I only am the one ‘in the ready’ do anything I can for whomever is in need or just needs someone to talk with. God bless.

  10. Andrea Furber says:

    Love all of these, MaryJane! Many expanded the possibilities of my heart! Thank you. Here’s one for the list. At the beginning of the day, fill your heart with love and appreciation for all of the life you have. Focus on it until it literally is glowing. Allow the bliss of that awareness to gently move up to your face so that it radiates the love in your heart. Go about your day with your glorious smile soothing and blessing everyone fortunate enough to be in your presence even for a moment. See the beauty in everyone you meet, allowing your face to be their mirror as it shines back to them.

  11. Sarah M says:

    I love intentional acts of kindness! On my birthday recently, I donated blood at the Red Cross. I have reached the age where it is more fun to give than receive so I asked my family to find a charitable cause to give to instead of buying me presents. I was thrilled with their choices….desks for children in Africa, Humane Society, Cancer research.

  12. Karlyne says:

    Super ideas! I really like the “put your patio furniture in the front yard” one, and talk to the people who go by. In the country, I suppose that could translate to “wave the neighbors down as they drive by and make them eat BBQ with you”.

  13. Patti says:

    Twice a year my husband and I bring lunch to the group home our dad’s used to live at. This gives the staff a break, plus we love hanging out with the residents. John also plays Scrabble with the women every Thursday morning.

  14. Ariel Ewing says:

    PRAY for someone that you know is going through a ‘HARD” time in their life. Others did for me this past year as my dear husband of 63 years “went to Heaven”. And bring in some food. Comfort food like a casserole of oven baked rice pudding, or a loaf of home baked bread. It doesn’t need to be fancy or a lot. It means so very much to the grieving.
    Each of your ideas are so good. I will do more this year!! Thank you!! Ariel

    • Carol O says:

      Great suggestions

    • This idea is invaluable ! I too lost my man of 50 years a year ago March 7, ON our youngest daughters birthday… Hence they share a birthday now, his first in Heaven, her first here on earth without him. I still benefit from prayers, and will until I reach that ultimate birthday…Prayers are the most valuable gift you may offer for anyone !

      • I agree about prayer being the most valuable gift one can give another. I even pray for people I see on TV in the news who have been injured or something and I’ll never know how God responded to that prayer but I know He did.

  15. Robin Stratton says:

    I try to pick up trash that has accumulated on our road. Once it warms up I put on my rubber boots and clean trash out of the creek that has washed in during heavy rain storms. I live in the country.

  16. Little Parrot says:

    I’ve already signed up! I think we’ll be seeing more of this, won’t that be wonderful? I have a Father who is so good to me and I know when we are good to others he is happy.

  17. Cindy says:

    Smile…when you drive, smile…when you walk, smile…each time you answer the phone, smile. It is the one single thing we can do with no limitation

  18. Barbara Spikes says:

    Perfect ideas. I love the idea about leaving a dollar at the dollar store. And the toiletries bags are great. My minister said acknowledging someone who looks down is a good service.

  19. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    Good ideas , some easy- some not so easy. I think all good people try to be kind to others,but our world today makes it so much harder to connect. And its about time not about money in most instances.

  20. Kathleen Leibach says:

    I love the idea of leaving dollars in the toy section of the dollar store. If you see a child close by drop a few dollars so they can find it. Be sneaky because one boy caught me doing it and tried to give it back to me thinking it was an accident. So sweet

  21. Carol O says:

    What great ideas. We will sometimes pay for an elderly couple’s lunch when we pay ours, another great idea.

  22. Jeannie flynn says:

    Wonderful suggestions. This is something that will share our concerns for the needy. I volunteer at our food pantry. We have an added support group where I and a friend take food bi- weekly to two families who cannot come to the pantry. It’s called Manna Mobile Ministry. They are so grateful for our efforts. We definitely gain much more for our efforts.

  23. B Kirkpatrick says:

    “What blesses one blesses all”. You always bless, many thanks🌠🌠

  24. MICHELE YATES says:

    An excellent reminder of what should be in our heart everyday to put into action. Blessings.

  25. Denise L Blank says:

    I so do this all the time. Thank you for the reminder that we ALL need to show kindness to EVERYONE. Give and give some more is my motto. Can’t take anything with me.

  26. Sylvia Jacobus says:

    My Mom and her mother were the kindest women I’ve ever known. I try to emulate them. We need to make this an international goal. Glad you wrote this. Inspiration…..

  27. Dodie Holst says:

    Thanks for the great thread. Funny today, I gave a tired lady (with a 5 yr old) a compliment on her shirt, and just like that I received a sweet smile. These things are so easy to do. Just think of what you would like to happen to you. Also, today we decided at the clubhouse to make cloth tote bags for the kids that have nothing in an area by our church.
    There is also a great small very poor high school in another area and our friends follow their ball games faithfully. We are helping with their fundraiser so the girls basketball team can go to camp this summer. When all we have then you find out they live 9 miles from the beach and have never been there. We still have many more things we can do for them.

    • Patti says:

      What a wonderful thing to do, Dodie. But, it doesn’t surprise me that you do kind things. You are one of the nicest people I know.

  28. Brenda McNatt says:

    Pay it forward when you’re at a drive through window.. pay for the order in the car behind you.

  29. Cindy Meier says:

    There are so many things to do. I take an elderly person to lunch or buy a picnic lunch to share with them every month…we talk, laugh and just enjoy time together. The stories just roll out!!

  30. JeDonne Morton says:

    Love the timing of this! I was thinking yesterday, as I was driving from North Carolina to Michigan about how much anger is in our world. How people love to gossip and tear down so many others. As I was thinking on all this, I decided it was time to work on my speech. Speaking kindness to everyone and about everyone. Yes, we get angry and frustrated, but if we are focusing on kindness many of what are little irritants will just wash right on past us. So that is my suggestion, SPEAK KINDNESS.

  31. I’m 82 years old and I have done many of these things since I became a Christian at the age of 15. A smile never hurt anyone. You can change the atmosphere in your office if it is toxic by just being kind and pleasant. A grocery store clerk will respond to a thank you and a smile. I know because my mother-in-law was a clerk and she would tell me about how nasty many people are and that one pleasant person came through her register it helped her cope with the others. So, Jane, keep up the good work in helping us remember the good things in life.

  32. Paula Leyva says:

    Please & Thank you!
    Yes it is always the time to be positive!
    I try to keep up with the good!
    I make little sweet sayings like ( May you have the patience to find Lucky Four Leaf Clovers!) Give to people & just leave them at places to be found.
    I also paint rocks(leave.. to be found)may to help make people smile!
    The small things in life……yes oh, what blessings we share!

  33. Pauline Davidson says:

    Let the cashier or server who is having a bad “first” day know that everyone has had a FIRST day, including the owner, president of the company, etc. We have done this many times and it eases a sometimes situation that is fraught with anxiety. SMILE it works miracles

  34. Marcy Poletick says:

    I love supporting Girl Scouts at cookie time. I don’t really need to eat cookies so they are donated to the Marines in Camp Pendleton. A win all the way around.

  35. Sylvia Jacobus says:

    I have been thinking of doing what I did before, invite someone over during a holiday to sup with you, especially a person who has no where else to go. It was a rewarding time for all.

  36. Alexia Hanson says:

    Am sharing the heck out of this list and have one to contribute: If you’re dining out (lunch/dinner/coffee) and see a serviceman (or woman) buy their meal. If I’m skint I will at least go to them and shake their hand in gratitude. Active duty, reserves, older vets, all of ’em have either risked their lives already or are willing to do so at a moment’s notice. The young ones make very little so picking up their tab means something to them.

    I’m a book fiend so spend a great deal of time at B&N. I always keep a couple of $5.00 gift cards on me to hand one of them with a smile of thanks. At the very least I tell them how grateful I am for their sacrifices and just being there. Making someone smile makes my day too.

  37. Bev Read says:

    I make fabric giving bunnies . I either leave them with a note or hand them out to people, that need a smile! I Love to see their reactions! The bunnies are made from scrap fabrics and filled with LOVE and fiberfill.

  38. ruth morrison says:

    I volunteer to drive ambulance for our volunteer MAVAC (Marathon Area Volunteer Ambulance Corp when I’m in the N.Y.S. In the winter when I.m in Florida I help a couple 92,93 with different errands and DR Appt.
    Old family friends.

  39. Brisja says:

    I’m happy to see that we already do several of these, and get ideas for new acts of kindness. I agree that kindness is intentional, and we all need to make the effort more often. As I begin my last year of my 40’s, I decided to write to each person who has played a part in my life so far and thank them, or forgive them, for their contribution to creating who I am today. I haven’t held grudges, but your list made me realize they might not know that. It would be good to tell the ones who might like to hear it.

  40. Liz says:

    Place a restaurant gift card under the windshield wiper of a car in an emergency room parking lot.

  41. Lizanne says:

    Wonderful ideas! and folks-I help take the recycling from church. Also do prayers for people (friends and strangers-including Congress) and always try to engage in a friendly exchange with cashiers, wait staff, folks on the phone.

  42. Joanna says:

    Create some homemade cards and leave them for the residents at a nursing home. They cannot get out to purchase cards to send, so this will give them the opportunity to still send those cards! Don’t forget to add the postage for them as well. ;-D

  43. Roksanna says:


  44. Marsha says:

    Love this!

  45. Brigitte says:

    Just maybe all someone needs is a 😊
    Helping the poor by making food bags with sandwiches and other goodies,and distributed the bags to them.
    Cleaning out your closets and getting rid of items you no longer need and giving the items to the poor.

  46. Anna Ellenberger says:

    Try to avoid honking your car horn unnecessarily. Where we live people seem to do it for almost any reason and don’t care when or where they do it. Kindness would be entering and leaving your vehicle quietly and also watching to be sure no one is directly in front of the vehicle when you do honk. It really is quite painful having a horn blasting into my ear. Maybe the others could “say goodbye” literally and not honk as they leave. Locking a car door does not need to noisy either. I can hear mine lock quietly from a few feet away. Please consider this as an act of kindness in our ever more noisy society.

  47. Sheila fulks says:

    It’s so nice seeing this list. We all must keep our world a happy and beautiful place for everyone. If we find these things hard to do we should think about what we leave behind for others In this world once we leave. Grandchildren ,friends , how about the animals. It’s the little things that matter and well worth a smile. Thank you so much for this . God bless. Sheila

  48. Darlene McDowell says:

    I still like writing letters or sending cards to people for no reason at all. I call it “sending a little love”. My life group is doing this every week now.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *