22 Incredible Things People Have Done to Help Out Their Neighbors
These kindhearted people take being a “good neighbor” seriously.
Making sure a preschooler in isolation doesn’t feel isolated
Quinn Waters has seen a lot of tough things in his short three years of life. So when the preschooler was put in isolation in his home as part of his treatment for brain cancer, his family prepared themselves to help him endure one more heartbreaking hardship. But then the Waters’ neighbors stepped in, deciding that while they couldn’t do anything about the cancer, they could certainly keep Quinn entertained. At first, it was just nearby friends doing silly puppet shows, juggling, singing, and playing games outside the large window where the little boy watched, delighted. As word spread, however, more and more people showed up—from the community and then from around the country. Quinn, nicknamed “The Mighty Quinn,” and his family have now been visited by athletes, police departments, dance teams, and he even got his own private concert from the Dropkick Murphys, all from his “quindow.” “The fact that there’s so much bad news, you see something like this and everybody wants to get on board with it. No one wants to see a little kid be sick,” his father Jarlath Waters told Fox26. “Every single person who has shown up has done wonders for him.”
Standing together for democracy
Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/Shutterstock
Neighbors certainly help each other in many small ways every day but sometimes we’re reminded of just how powerful neighbors can be, especially when they band together. On August 23, 2019, in Hong Kong, over 10,000 people came out of their homes and stood, quietly holding hands with their neighbors. The massive human chain, that covered more than 35 miles, was a show of solidarity with the people who have been protesting for freedom and democracy for months. But it’s not just a political protest, it’s also a symbol of the power of community, Willy Lam, adjunct professor at the Center for China Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said to the New York Times. “They have chosen this human chain as a symbol of unity,” he said. For more political inspiration, read up on these 12 protests that changed the world.
When “to serve and protect” also means “to feed and wash dishes”
When officers Stan and Jeroen, of Eindhoven, Netherlands, were called to a local woman’s house they expected to find her in distress and help her. What they didn’t expect to find were five young, hungry children who had just watched their mother get taken away by ambulance. As they waited for relatives to arrive, the officers decided to do the neighborly thing and care for the kids. They made fried egg sandwiches with fruit for dinner and then did the dishes and tidied up the kitchen. “Together we are stronger!” they wrote in a comment they posted, along with a picture, to their community Facebook page. What a beautiful reminder that police are public servants and neighbors just as much as they are law enforcers. Here are 45 other things police officers want you to know.
Paying for groceries isn’t just about the money
There’s been a trend recently of stories of people buying their neighbor’s groceries when the neighbor couldn’t afford them. It’s a refreshing thing to hear in a day when clever and widespread scams are making neighbors distrust each other more than ever. One anonymous viral story reads, “I was in line at Aldi and this girl with two toddlers in front of me had her card declined and she looked so sad and said ‘let me call my husband real quick’ and it was only $18, so I just paid for it, and she was very sweet and then as she walked off, the lady behind me said ‘You know that was probably a scam, right’ and like, even if it was, like what a sad scam, right? $18 at the Aldi. If you’re ‘scamming’ me for some Tyson chicken and apple juice and cauliflower, then just take my money.” Ashley Westover was so moved by this story and dozens like it that she posted a compilation to her Facebook with the reminder to “Do good recklessly!” As shown in the hundreds of comments, the stories have since motivated many others to pay for their neighbor’s groceries. Can’t afford to buy your own groceries, much less your neighbor’s? Do one of these 50 random acts of kindness that don’t cost a cent.
Banding together to keep their homes—and ours—safe
You’ve probably never heard of the Waorani, an indigenous nation in a remote part of the Ecuadorian Amazon. It’s probably safe to say that even the Ecuadorians didn’t give them much thought—as shown by the government’s decision to sell their ancestral lands for oil exploration. But the native neighbors were not going to lose their homes without a fight. Traveling by canoe and small plane, hundreds of Waorani men and women showed up to protest the move and filing a lawsuit against the government. It worked and the tiny neighborhood saved 7 million acres of rainforest, helping not just their immediate neighbors but all their neighbors on this planet who depend on the Amazon for fresh air. “Our territory is our decision, and now, since we are owners, we are not going to let oil enter and destroy our natural surroundings and kill our culture,” Nemonte Nenquimo, a Waorani leader, told the New Yorker. Here’s what would happen if the rain forest disappeared.
From chicken sandwiches to the ballot box
In the epic battle of fast-food chicken sandwiches, it appears Popeyes has won the war. People are raving about the fried chicken breast on a brioche bun with pickles and spicy mayo, often waiting hours to buy one. One teen decided to make the most of the line at his local Popeyes by using the time to help his neighbors register to vote so they’d be ready by that all-important first Tuesday in November. “I decided to register people to vote after I saw there was a lack of young people politically involved,” David Ledbetter, 17, told CNN. “I believe that it is our duty to vote as American citizens and it would be wrong not to exercise our political voice.” He added that he likes engaging with his neighbors in the community and has aspirations to help people and make society better as a whole.
Handing out hot dogs and hope
Natural disasters have a way of making people depend on their neighbors in a way nothing else does and the results can be incredibly moving—as six-year-old Jermaine Bell proves. The boy had been saving money with his family for a dream trip to Disneyworld when their neighborhood was suddenly ordered to evacuate before Hurricane Dorian hit the South Carolina town. Immediately the first-grader decided that he’d rather use his hard-earned cash to help his neighbors fleeing the storm than for a vacation. Jermaine stood alongside a nearby road handing out hundreds of chips, hot dogs, and bottles of water to evacuees. He even stopped to pray with neighbors who were scared or worried. “I wanted them to have some food to eat, so they can enjoy the ride to the place that they’re going to stay at,” he told WJBF. “I wanted to be generous and live to give.”
Caring for lawns and hearts
When Randa Ragland saw the note on her front door, calling her yard an “eyesore” and telling her she needed to “do better,” her heart sank. Her husband had just lost his job and she’d been busy caring for their toddler who’d just been diagnosed with stage four cancer—who could think about lawn mowing or weeding at a time like this? So she posted the note online and despite the cruel words in the letter she decided to respond with kindness, simply asking her neighbors for forgiveness and patience with the struggling family. She got so much more. Within hours her Pinson, Alabama, neighbors showed up with lawnmowers, rakes, and garbage bags and went to work—showing what it really means to be a good neighbor. Soon her yard looked pristine. But they didn’t stop there, with neighbors and local businesses offering services, donations, and raising money to help the family. “I’m in amazement. I’m still in shock,” she told CBS42. “I don’t have a large family. My mom is gone, my dad is gone, my brother is gone, so this means a lot.” This almost sounds like a good neighbor lesson straight out of Mr. Rogers.
Giving up their lives for their younger neighbors
What more powerful way is there to serve your neighbor than to be willing to die for them? In an extreme act of unselfishness, a group of Japanese retirees showed how powerful and lifesaving caring for neighbors can be. Due to damage a tsunami caused to the Fukushima nuclear plant, the plant was spewing harmful radiation into the community. It created a terrible catch-22 as the longer it went on the more people were at risk yet the radiation was so high that anyone who went in to clean it would be at risk of death. Yasuteru Yamada, a 72-year-old retired engineer, decided that the only way to save his neighbors would be to sacrifice himself. He organized the Skilled Veterans Corps, a group of retirees over 60, to go in and stabilize the plant. “It isn’t brave, it’s practical,” he told the BBC. “Even if I were exposed to radiation, cancer could take 20 or 30 years or longer to develop. Therefore us older ones have less chance of getting cancer.”
Everyone needs a friend
Kids can be the best kind of neighbors, as shown by 6-year-old Blake Rajahn. For his big first day of school his mother, Nikki, offered to make him a t-shirt with anything on it he liked. She assumed it would have something to do with basketball, football, or some other sport but his request surprised her. After thinking on it, Blake asked her for a shirt that said, “I will be your friend.” He explained it is “for all the kids who need a friend to know that I am here for them.” While most kids are worried about themselves feeling lonely at school, Blake was thinking of his neighbors. We have no doubt the t-shirt, and his friendly grin, helped a lot of first-graders! “Never underestimate your kid’s heart for others!” his mom wrote on Facebook. Adults can make new friends too: Start with these 12 simple ways to make friends as a grown-up.