The Most Heartwarming Acts of Kindness in 2019
If you need proof that kindness still exists in the world, read on. These true stories of everyday people giving their best to others will inspire you to make a difference, too.
Make room for kindness
1981 Rustic Studio kan/Shutterstock
Sometimes it can feel like the world has gotten meaner, especially lately. But there is still good in the world. And the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, or snarls at you instead of smiles, remember these inspirational stories of everyday people showing simple acts of kindness. Anyone is capable of making a difference—and that goes for you, too. Here’s how some amazing individuals made the world a better place by simply lending a hand. To do the same in your own life, try these 50 random acts of kindness that don’t cost a cent.
The power of a ten-year-old girl and a very special shirt
It’s heartbreaking to hear a ten-year-old child matter-of-factly discuss the difference between a chemotherapy shirt and a regular shirt. And it’s devastating to hear her explain how a chemo shirt saves time and prevents infection. But this is something that little Sophia Espiritu talks about regularly.
Sophia has Langerhans cell histiocytosis, a rare form of childhood cancer that attacks one in every 200,000 children. Even as she was fighting her disease, Sophia started a “Shirt and Share” fundraiser on her birthday so that she could raise money and donate chemotherapy sports shirts to other cancer patients. “I want to help other children because this past year, so many people have been helping me—all of the nurses and the physicians, my family, and all of my friends—so I just wanted to be able to help and give back to everyone,” explains Sophia. Happily, the Make-A-Wish Foundation heard about her and sent her on a Harry Potter tour in Europe.
As if Sophia’s act of kindness wasn’t enough, she also volunteers with INCGiving, a nonprofit organization that encourages members around the globe to share their faith through kindness to others. Kindness never gets old. Here are 2018’s most heartwarming acts of kindness.
Silencing online haters with a bucketful of kindness
Courtesy Wendy Babcock
When she noticed a friend’s empathetic response to a Facebook post attracting a mob of haters, Wendy Babcock started thinking. “My friend’s comment was kind, understanding, and compassionate. I realized we need more comments like this,” explains Wendy, who brainstormed about a system to bring kind people to posts, plus invite others to comment with kindness as well. For this author of inspirational books, including How to Sparkle Where the Sun Don’t Shine, the words bucket brigade came to mind. “The traditional meaning of bucket brigade is to pass buckets of water from one person to another to put out a fire,” she says. “This was exactly my thought about leaving so many comments of kindness—that we would pour buckets of kindness on hate and bullying, drowning it out by squelching the ‘hate fires.’”
Wendy’s solution was to create a Facebook group dedicated to this purpose, using the hashtag #kindnessbucketbrigade. Astonishingly, her group acquired a community of 6,300 members in a little over two months. “People use the Kindness Bucket Brigade hashtag to prevent and stop online bullying. They have also been using it for those who need support and prayers,” she says. “Members began tagging one another and using the hashtag when they see people in need of love, support, and kindness. We see so much negativity in the world on TV, social media, and news outlets that this has been a breath of fresh air for many of us. The Kindness Bucket Brigade and our amazing online community have seriously restored my faith in humanity!” If you’re a parent, make sure you know these 10 silent signs your child is being bullied.
A recreational vehicle is used for a lifesaving trip
Courtesy Jeff Cavins
Jeff Cavins is the CEO of Outdoorsy, an RV rental company with a strong core value system of gratitude. So when Jeff learned about four-year-old Noah Alderson from Spokane, Washington, and his need for an RV to get him to a lifesaving heart surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital, he immediately took action and supplied a free RV rental for Noah’s family. Because Noah relies on machines to keep him alive—he also suffers from seizures—a normal vehicle was not an option for getting him to Boston. A commercial flight wasn’t an option, either, due to his oxygen amount and the exposure to germs before such a big surgery.
Once the RV rental costs were covered, Jeff continued to help the family—covering the cost of gas to get them to Boston and the cost of an Airbnb so they could live more comfortably during their ten-week hospital stay. The Outdoorsy team also took part in mapping out fun campgrounds for the family to stay at along the way, as well as coordinated a VIP tour of the Columbus Zoo and a walk onto Wrigley Field to meet with players during batting practice.
Noah’s successful open-heart surgery took 11 hours. Three days later, Noah was awake and smiling and on the road to recovery. To this day, Jeff keeps a picture of Noah in his office, as a reminder that Outdoorsy exists for a greater purpose than just renting RVs and campervans. Jeff and his team are beyond excited to watch Noah grow up. They feel that he must have a very special purpose waiting for him on the road ahead, and they can’t wait to see where this life takes him. Here’s how to find more meaning in your life, according to five people who did.
Leaping out of her comfort zone by helping others
Courtesy Charlena Simth
Charlena Smith says that her successful business was directly the result of one act of accidental kindness. A busy working mom and entrepreneur, Charlena was approached by a woman for help outside of a grocery store. Sensing extreme need, Charlena and her sons wound up not only buying groceries for the woman, whose name was Maria, but also accompanied her home. “I took a huge leap outside of my comfort zone, and I drove her home. That is where I met one of her children, who spoke a tiny bit more English than Maria could. I discovered the family was from Romania and was living with another family from Syria. These Romanian and Syrian refugees had been through more than I’ll ever be able to imagine,” explains Charlena, who along with her own family, remained connected to the group. “In that one event, that single step outside my comfort zone, I gained a deeper understanding of so many things.”
Through Maria, Charlena was introduced to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), where she became a volunteer. She was happily tasked with setting up a system to acclimate Syrians into U.S. culture as smoothly as possible, by teaching them to navigate not only a new landscape and different language, but also different medical, transportation, and school systems. This also inspired her to create Optio, a matched and guided accountability framework that empowers people to live their best, most inspired lives. Don’t miss this beautiful story about one community that took in refugees after World War II.
Yes, Nicolas, there really is a Santa Claus. (Spoiler alert: He’s your dad!)
When Nicolas Fosson needed an eye procedure, the folks at his local LasikPlus Vision center didn’t think much of it when his dad, Dave, paid for the surgery. Because that’s what dads do, right? But when Dave Fosson continued to pay for treatments for people in need, the LasikPlus folks took major-league notice and so did others. It turns out that Dave plays Santa Claus in his small town of Waverly, Ohio, and gives generously and regularly to so many people in town, he was contacted by The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Dave not only pays for much-needed eye surgeries, but he also helps with other medical treatments when people can’t pay themselves.
One Christmas Eve, he received a phone call from the grandmother of a 7-year-old who had leukemia and went to visit her. Dave took a picture of himself dressed in his Santa outfit that later sold multiple copies. All proceeds went toward buying this family (who was in financial hardship) a new car so that the child could more easily be transported to medical treatment. She is older now, and in remission. Just another act of kindness brought to a small town by Santa Claus. These stories of Christmas miracles will restore your faith in humanity. (Make sure you have a tissue handy!)
When working in finance isn’t enough
Courtesy Michelle Stiles
Baltimore resident Cheryl Pipia is Head of Integrated Sales-U.S. Intermediaries at T. Rowe Price and founder of Mission & Movement, an organization dedicated to inspiring thoughtful living, purposeful leadership, and long-standing community impact in impoverished parts of the world. Through Mission & Movement, Cheryl has carried out many acts of kindness in Kenya, focused on education, community development, and vocational training.
“After completing several volunteer vacations to Kenya and Ghana, I realized there were two main gaps in humanitarian efforts. While some volunteer groups have visited these areas, promised projects weren’t getting completed and there was a lack of commitment to see things to fruition,” she explains. “For that reason, I felt there was a lack of dignity for the community. It was my goal to build relationships by repeatedly visiting with the locals and listening to their needs, identifying grassroots projects that required funding, and making it happen in a meaningful way.”
In Kibera, Mission & Movement’s sister non-profit sponsored the entire funding of the Shine Kibera Educational Centre, a primary school of about 60 students from an impoverished area. This past year, Cheryl returned to Kenya to visit the Shine Kibera School and to start the construction of another secondary school in Kisii, as well as take 40 children at Shine Kibera on an educational trip to Kenya’s TV 47 station.
There are many ways to get involved and help others—in far-off lands and a lot closer to home. Check out these creative ways to volunteer and really make a difference.
Optimism and hope despite a monster hurricane
Courtesy Anthony Rathbun
Joselyn Casas was pregnant with her second child. Her family was eagerly expecting the arrival of a new baby when hurricane Harvey hit and devastated Houston in 2017, destroying homes and casting doubt on many people’s futures. The Casas family was hit hard, as were many other people who required on-the-spot rescues. They were forced to evacuate their home, dashing their dreams of bringing their newest member back to a warm, safe place with a yard and bedrooms for each child.
Luckily, Habitat for Humanity partnered with First Response, a pregnancy and ovulation test kit brand, to fund Baby’s First Home Campaign. First Response and Habitat for Humanity made the Casas family’s dream a reality with an affordable, brand-new home they could grow in and thrive back in. Now, through ongoing acts of kindness and gratitude, the Casas family has pitched in and helped to build homes for other needy families throughout 2019.
Let’s deck the “howls” and read!
Courtesy Humane Society of Missouri
The relationships that occur between animals and children are tangibly powerful. Something magical happens when kids connect with dogs, cats, horses, and other assorted furry or feathery beings. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Missouri, where children are invited to read to shelter pets. This work goes on all year, through the Humane Society of Missouri.
To extend their reach, the non-profit organization puts on a Deck the Howls event each December. The evening provides a cozying-up opportunity for pajama-clad kids eager to hone their reading skills and share stories with amazing pups in need of homes. This type of interaction is one of the things that shelter dogs crave—and wish you knew.
The children benefit by practicing their reading skills in front of a non-judgmental (and absolutely adorable!) audience, developing empathy and learning to make compassionate, responsible choices when interacting with animals. The pets benefit by having a positive social experience and learning how to relax around people, leading to quicker adoptions. Since the program started in 2015, the average length of stay for a shelter dog at the Humane Society of Missouri has dropped by six days!
Honoring ordinary women doing extraordinary things
Courtesy Jessical Kaplar
Ty Ziglar is a military spouse and a mom. She understands what it’s like to be mistaken for being an ordinary woman. According to the spunky do-gooder, no woman is ordinary. “Towns like mine in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, are filled with ordinary women doing extraordinary things,” she says. “This army goes largely unnoticed, in spite of the significant impact they make in schools, neighborhoods, and communities. I believe these women are hidden heroes and deserve to be recognized for the contributions they make.”
Ty’s mission in life is to be of service in the world and empower other purpose-driven women to step out of their comfort zone, gain confidence, and find fulfillment in living the life they have been called to live. Her motto is “Keep It Poppin’,” which means to keep moving forward in greatness and never quit. She created the Keep It Poppin’ award in 2019. The award is sponsored by small business owners, and their sponsorship allows Ty the opportunity to surprise a local woman with gifts and a bouquet of flowers every month.
Some of the women she has recognized include a foster parent who adopted a baby who was born blind, the organizer of a BackPack Buddy program who lost her office space but didn’t stop, and a woman who provides much-needed child care to her neighbor after her neighbor’s grandchildren came to live with her. “For so long, these women have gone under the radar and have not been recognized for their achievements and contributions,” Ty says. “Maybe it’s because what they do seems small in the scheme of things. But acts of love, kindness, and simple neighborliness are what hold our communities together.” For more beautiful stories, check out these moving photos that show the power of kindness.