Random Acts of Kindness for Every Month of the Year
Kindness creates a ripple effect, spreading positive energy way beyond just you and the person you're nice to. Here are 12 little ways to be kinder all year long.
January: Warm someone up
During the winter of 2017, Tracey Zeeck looked out the window of her Oklahoma City office building and saw a woman walking down the sidewalk without a coat. “We don’t get a lot of snow here, but we do get a mean, cold, wet wind that pierces you—and it can make life miserable,” she says. Zeeck couldn’t stand the thought that she had multiple jackets moldering in the back of her closet while this woman shivered—so she brought in her hand-me-downs and set a coat rack up on the sidewalk with a sign telling people to take one if they needed it. Her coworkers pitched in, too, and soon local coffee shop Elemental Coffee Roasters offered to host the rack permanently. “The coat-giveaway is living a life of its own now,” Zeeck says. “People just know to come and drop (off coats), and they also know they can take as needed. That makes me feel humbled and happy. I love how this one little coat rack has proven to thousands of people that all we have to do to impact lives is one tiny thing.”
Whether it’s offering your hat or gloves to someone on the street (knowing you can afford to replace them) or tying a warm scarf to a bench with a “FREE” sign on it, you can easily warm someone’s heart—and body—on a cold day.
February: Ask a stranger to be your Valentine
A few years back, Erika Anderson, founder of Army of Lovers, was dating someone long distance and found herself feeling lonely on Valentine’s Day. “Instead of focusing my energy on that, I decided to make all of New York my Valentine,” she says. “It felt pretty silly, folding all these Hello Kitty cards and writing, ‘to you,’ and ‘from me.’ And I was nervous to hand them to people in the street, because how ridiculous is that? Who needs a Hello Kitty Valentine? But everyone was so sweet. The following year, I asked friends to come over and make valentines with me. Then the email invite was forwarded to a journalist, and lo and behold, it became a movement! People all over the world wanted to take part, and they have.”
This February 14, pick up an extra pack of kids’ valentines and give them to folks you don’t know. Sure, it may seem awkward to give a heart-shaped greeting to a perfect stranger, but Anderson has some simple instructions for how to do it: “1. Make eye contact. 2. Say, “Happy Valentine’s Day” and hand the human your card. 3. Walk away.” We’d add a #4: Sneak a look back to see them smile.
March: Keep someone dry
The next time you see umbrellas in the sale bin at your local Target or drugstore, buy an extra one or two. Come rainy season, attach tags that say “FREE Take me!” and put them in a high-traffic area like a bus stop or restaurant coat rack. The beneficiaries will never know who their knight in shining armor was, but they’ll certainly be grateful (and dry). Get inspired by these 10 random acts of kindness that could change someone’s life today.
April: Leave quarters at a laundromat
Don’t know how to celebrate National Laundry Day on April 15? Here’s an idea: Make it an excuse to do a random act of kindness. Sift through your jacket pockets, junk drawers, purse, or couch cushions for loose change and stack up any quarters you find on washing machines at a laundromat. For extra kindness credit, leave a note that says, “Have a great day! You deserve it.”
May: Ask yourself what you need more of
Flowers and a card are beautiful ways to honor a mom on Mother’s Day, but have you ever heard the saying that the best gift to give someone is something you’d want yourself? “What could you use more of today? In what ways can you give what you need to others?” asks Sherice Perry in Invincible Summer: A 30-Day Reflectional on the Power of Kindness. These are questions that Perry, a high-powered Washington D.C. strategist, asked herself during a life-changing summer of self-reflection and discovery. The things that are in short supply in your life—support, kind words, gratitude, help with family obligations—are probably running short in the life of a mother that you know, too. “After you’ve thought about it, pick one thing you could use more of in your life and give it to someone else.” You’ll want to check out these 19 powerful quotes that remind us to be kind to each other.
June: Buy a dozen doughnuts
This National Doughnut Day, June 7, spread the love (and sprinkles!) by dropping off a dozen or two at the nurses’ desk of a VA hospital, the teacher’s lounge at your neighborhood public school, or your local firehouse. You can’t buy these dedicated folks an extra helping of happiness, but you can buy them doughnuts, and isn’t that kind of the same thing?
July: Help out a furry friend
July 5 is the busiest day of the year at many animal shelters around the country, as cats and dogs frightened by fireworks are brought in off the streets. Many of these pets get reunited with their owners quickly, but those who don’t might benefit from a foster pet-parent. Many shelters and rescue organizations around the country are overcrowded and underfunded, and foster programs allow other members of the community to pitch in caring for the animal, without having to commit to giving a pet a lifetime of care. Check out the fostering info at Best Friends Animal Society to find out more, or search for “animal fostering near me” online. Don’t miss these 14 moving photos that show the power of kindness.
August: Tape a joke to a gas pump or park bench
Q: What do you call a fake noodle?
A: An impasta!
A chuckle slashes tension, lowers levels of stress hormones in the body, and boosts mood. Imagine being able to do that for dozens and dozens of people in a matter of seconds? Just scribble a dumb joke on a Post It and slap it somewhere public, suggest the makers of a kindness “game” called BoomBoom Cards. It’s the perfect “prank” to play on National Tell a Joke Day on August 16!
September: Pay for somebody’s coffee
If you’ve ever had your coffee or drive-thru order tab randomly picked up by the person in front of you in line, you already know: This seemingly small, inconsequential act can truly make someone’s whole day. One woman at a Starbucks in St. Petersburg, Florida, started a java-chain that lasted almost an entire day: After she picked up the tab for the person behind her, that person did the same for the next customer and so on, until nearly 400 people in a row had bought coffee for each other! Try bringing a smile yourself this year on National Coffee Day, September 29. Read on for 21 more inspiring stories of kindness.
October: Plant secret tulips in a public spot
You know that little patch of dirt on the median by your office? The ripped up area of dirt by the grocery store? Those dusty, brown swaths are just feel-good flowers waiting to happen! Research suggests that being around flowers boosts mood and helps relieve stress, so keep your eye out for inexpensive tulip or daffodil bulbs at the checkout counter of your grocery store and do your neighbors a solid. These hardy spring flowers can grow in almost any conditions, and the best time to plant them is in the fall before temps drop too low. Just poke a shallow hole in the dirt, and drop in a bulb.
November: Send a handmade “thank you” to a veteran
We send thank-you notes to people who come to our weddings and baby showers and to hiring managers who interview us for jobs. But how many of us have ever put pen to paper to express gratitude to a U.S. service member? Operation Gratitude makes it easy. Just send a handwritten card or letter to the organization, and they’ll pack it up and include it in a care package to an American veteran, a wounded soldier, a new recruit, or first responder. Another organization that will deliver your thank-you is America’s Adopt A Soldier—send your greetings to them at America’s Adopt a Soldier P.O. Box 1049 Springfield, VA 22151. These are 15 of the most heartwarming acts of kindness you’ll ever read.
December: Let someone into your lane (or line)
Despite its cheer, December is an infamously stressful month and an especially tough time for commuters and travelers. Traffic congestion has been linked to stress, aggression, and even increased crime. Consider letting someone cut in front of you—on the highway, in line at Target, at the airport security line. It won’t delay you for long, and that one simple kindness could make their entire holiday season safer, less stressful, and much sweeter. For more ideas, don’t miss these 50 random acts of kindness that don’t cost a cent.