celebrate kindness

Posts Tagged ‘#26acts

Last night I decided to celebrate the life of James Mattioli, age 6. I discovered through the internet that he was actually 6 and 3/4 and was “quick to remind everyone” of his exact age. Like many boys his age, he was active. He loved playing outside. Riding his bike. Swimming. He enjoyed playing inside, too, especially on his iPad. I learned that he was born four weeks early and his family would joke it was because he was hungry. Apparently James loved to eat, too, lol.

As I was standing in line with my family at Stevie B’s, a local all-you-can-eat pizza buffet, I began to think of James and how much he would love this restaurant. Endless rows of pizza with combinations galore. You could even request your own pizza to be made just to your specifications. In the back of the restaurant was a small arcade/game room where children could use tokens like quarters and earn tickets from various games of skill and luck to be traded in for trinkets and prizes. Yes, it’s hard to think of any child that wouldn’t want to come here for dinner.

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My thoughts were interrupted by the cashier’s friendly voice. “Would you like to buy some game tokens with your dinner?” We always get game tokens (although we try to teach our children the value of money by having them purchase their own tokens from time to time.) This evening, I bought three packs of tokens: one for my son, one for my daughter, and one for James.

As the cashier handed me my charge receipt to sign, I returned one container of tokens with my #26acts card and said, “Please hand this to the next person who comes in line to purchase tokens for their child. It’s a random act of kindness for James.” The cashier paused as she read my card, obviously surprised, and replied, “Yes… yes… wow, that is really sweet.” I made sure to put James’ EXACT age on the card, too. 🙂

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A little while later, as we were finishing our mealtime and about to head home, I walked back to the arcade/game room. It was a very small room, but alive with sparkling lights, bells and whistles, and happy smiles all around. The redemption counter was surrounded by children, all about the age of James, patiently waiting their turn to transfer tickets into prizes. I felt a lump in my throat as I thought of my own children who love coming here and playing the games. Ordinarily the bright lights and giddy chatter might give me a headache, but tonight it was pure bliss. Oh, to be a child again, without a care in the world. Such pure and innocent joy.

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For the person who received my random act of kindness tonight, I hope your child spun the big wheel and landed on the jackpot, receiving 100 tickets with the cost of only one token. Please share your joy by paying it forward. For James, I hope your memory will live on in the smiles and laughter of others as they remember what it’s like to be a child.

Be blessed my friends and be inspired! 🙂

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Today I began my new set of adventures: honoring the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.  Random Act of Kindness #1 was dedicated to Noah Pozner, age 6.  I learned from the internet that Noah “had a huge heart and was so much fun, a little bit rambunctious, lots of spirit… he was really the light of the room” according to his Aunt in a CNN interview.  I knew right away what I could do to remember this sweet soul, a son quite similar to my nine year old:  balloons!

My first stop was the Dollar Tree where I purchased 6 of the brightest, happiest, smiley faced balloons I could find; one for each year of his short life.  The sales associate, Dean,  was extremely helpful, holding the balloons while I attached a new business card to each string, taping a quarter on the back to act as a weight (and an extra surprise!)  He shared his pen so I could write a message on the back of each card as well.  He asked me if this was something for my son (noticing the little boy’s name on the cards), and I was surprised to find myself getting a little choked up explaining the purpose of the balloons.  “No, these are not for my son.  I’m doing 26 acts of kindness to honor the lives of those from Sandy Hook Elementary School.”  He nodded (as did the other sales associate in the next lane over), and in a solemn voice asked, “Is he one of them?” pointing to Noah’s name.  “Yes.  Yes he is.  Today is Noah’s day.  He’s my first random act of kindness.  I’m taking these balloons to a nearby playground and leaving them for children to discover and enjoy.”  Ringing up my purchases, Dean smiled and said, “That is really nice of you.  Really nice.”  I gathered my balloons, returned his smile and said, “I can’t wait to surprise the kids!”

Driving to the playground, my brain was swirling.  I was really hoping the playground would be empty so it truly could be a “drop and run” kind of act.  Turning into the gravel lot, my tires crunching loudly as I pulled into a parking place, I could see several families already enjoying the swings and slides.  What would they think when their children saw what I brought?  Would they allow them to come near?  Would they caution them about speaking to a stranger?  It wasn’t my intent to hand out balloons; I wanted to leave them on the fence and had created a sign to explain my purpose:

Photo Jan 06, 12 24 03 PM

As I tied the sign to the fence and started to separate the balloons, I heard a little boy to my left ask his Grandma, “What are the balloons for?”  As his Grandma replied, “I’m not sure”, I looked up and met the eyes of a boy who very well could have been Noah himself, only a few years older.  I smiled and said, “Oh!  The balloons are free!  Would you like one?”  He came near (under the watchful eye of his Grandma, mind you) then as I untangled the balloon strings, a little girl came forward (who I later discovered was his sister.)

“Here you go!  Have fun!”  Smiles all around.  Mission accomplished!  I started to untangle the rest of the balloon strings (it was a little bit windy) and saw the Grandma approaching me.  She had read the card attached to the balloon and simply said, “Thank you.  Thank you so much.”  She engulfed me in a tight hug and it was in that moment that the impact of this purpose, these 26 acts, hit me full force.  With tears streaming down my face, my voice cracked as I sobbed, “It’s the least I can do.”  Our tears were shared as she repeated “Thank you.  Thank you.”

As we finished our hug, we started laughing through our tears.  Oh, how good it felt to laugh in the midst of such an emotional, heart-felt moment!  I asked her permission to take a picture for this blog:

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As she went away with her grandchildren, I finished my task of placing balloons on the fence.  Two balloons taken, four remained.  This is what it looked like when I was done:

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This is the business card I attached to the bottom of each balloon string:

Front of card

Front of card

Back of card

Back of card

I hope the children who found the last four balloons (and quarters, too!) were as blessed as I was with the Random Act of Kindness.  It was a much more emotional task than I ever imagined, but I am so glad I took the time out of my day to bring a smile of joy to someone else.  For Noah, I hope your memory continues to be lifted as high as smiley faced balloons as others pay it forward.

Blessings to each and everyone one of you reading this blog.  🙂


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