celebrate kindness

Posts Tagged ‘candy

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own whirlwinds, we forget the whirlwinds of those around us. Thank goodness for Facebook and Twitter! With just a quick tap and a scroll, I can catch a glimpse of what’s happening with everyone else and realize that my issues are, in fact, just a drop in the bucket compared to someone else.

I really love using social media to stay connected with friends and family. In this fast-paced world in which we live, sometimes it’s the only lifeline I have to know when people are hurting or when there’s cause for celebration.

Today was a perfect example of the importance of being connected.

I saw this post on my Facebook feed from a gal I knew in high school (we sang together in show choir):


Oh my goodness! This is serious stuff! It’s incomprehensible to imagine someone my age, that I went to high school with, having to battle such life-changing situations.

However… There is joy in the journey! I love how my friend requested absurd balloons – how funny is THAT?! So awesome!

After work today, I stopped by the Dollar Tree and picked up a few goodies, each with a special meaning. My only purpose was to make my friends smile, so they know they mattered to me. 😊



Yep, that’s right – I bought a Princess balloon for a grown man in his 40’s who I know would rather be mud-bogging than trapped in a hospital bed with a gown that only ties in the back. Princess indeed!

I laughed all the way back to my car!

I got Mountain Dew to jump start that old heart of his with caffeine in case the surgery didn’t work. I added a box of Lifesavers as a last resort for survival. I bought a crazy-faced Pez because, well, you’re never too old to get Pez as a gift! I also bought a pack of Pez refills because NOBODY gets excited by the lemon Pez candies that come with the package. C’mon now Pez makers… Would it be too much to ask for some grape and strawberry?

Then I added two 100 Grand chocolate bars, because both my friend and her husband are worth 100 Grand to me. ❤️

The gift was received with laughter, which made me smile, too. Take time today to reach out to those around you! A quick note, a small surprise, just letting people know you care.

Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll be surprised by a Princess balloon, too. ❤️

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To honor the memory of Renee Parr, her family asked those that loved her to complete 14 random acts of kindness as we approach the one year anniversary of her passing, July 14, 2014.

Last Saturday, my two older children came with me to The Dollar Tree as we picked up some last minute glow sticks for our 4th of July festivities. As we paid for our purchases, I saw my son go to the candy machines and check to see what was inside. In an instant, I felt that nudge and suddenly I knew what I wanted to do to honor Renee’s memory:

I wanted to share in the joy of surprises for children.

I dug around in my purse for all the quarters I could find – only two, but better than nothing. I opened my wallet to count my cash and there found disappointment as well – two single dollar bills folded behind my license. One more search in my purse resulted in a third dollar bill, crumpled and disheveled, the edges ripped and worn.

Two quarters and three dollar bills.

I asked the sales clerk if she could change my bills into quarters and she refused, saying she didn’t have any quarters in her tray. In desperation, I located the store manager and explained the RAK I wanted to do, its purpose to honor the memory of Renee. She used her master key to open two additional registers and finally we were able to complete the transation.

Two quarters and three dollar bills, now 14 quarters to give away.

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It didn’t take the children long to fill all the candy machines. Some required two quarters; some only one. They finished their task with two quarters left and had to decide which “big machine” would receive the money.

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Renee was always a princess, to her family and her friends, so it was only fitting that the remaining coins went to the Frozen Disney Princesses Tattoos.

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We took a moment, my children and I, and said a silent prayer for Renee’s family and those sweet children who would receive the joy of a Renee RAK. She will always be in our hearts, forever.

If you would like to share your Renee RAK, click here to add your information. If you would like to see some of the other random acts of kindness completed in memory of Renee, click here.

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When you tell someone you spent the morning running amok, you are sure to receive some odd looks. After all, who announces their seemingly uncontrollable behavior with such joy? This is when I wish little speech bubbles would appear above our heads when we talk, so people can see that I’m referencing #AMOK, the Annual Melee of Kindness. This annual event, sponsored by RandomActs, is a global flash mob of sorts; people all across the world complete random acts of kindness for two designated days and share their stories with others. (Go ahead. Search the hashtag #AMOK on Twitter and see all the awesome ways people are being kind!)

This morning, in less time it takes for me to vacuum my house, I completed 6 RAKs for #AMOK. It was so much fun! Here are the things I did:

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1.  I went to Starbucks to purchase a few gift cards. While in the drive through waiting to reach the cashier, a small feather floated across my windshield (very Forrest Gump-like.) I watched it, mesmerized, as it skimmed the slight breeze, flitting right, then left, then right again, to finally rest inside my side door window.

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Now you may not believe in signs from above, and that’s fine, but for me, this was like a smile from heaven to start my RAKs #AMOK! When I finally made it to the cashier to purchase my gift cards, I bought the drink of the person in the car behind me and passed along this note:

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2. My next stop was to purchase three lottery tickets from a local convenience store. Then I went to Kroger to see who deserved a chance of hitting it big.

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The first car I saw was parked diagonally from me. You could tell from the door that the person had been in an accident and had their car fixed with spare parts. I thought they might deserve a chance at some better luck, so I placed my note with one lottery ticket under their windshield wiper.

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The next car that caught my eye had a personalized plate focused on children. That made me smile, so I left them a lottery ticket, too.

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My third lottery ticket went to a van parked in the special parking place reserved for adults with small children. I remember the times I’ve had to go grocery shopping with little ones in tow and it is never a relaxing task. I thought maybe a lottery ticket on their dash might brighten their day, too.

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3.  With a pocketful of quarters, I made my way into Kroger. I stocked the bottom row of candy and toy dispensers to surprise any children who may be shopping with their parents that day.

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Did you know that some of the bottom row dispensers cost MORE than the ones right beside them? ME NEITHER! How frustrating for a child OR parent to have to understand that logic! I went ahead and added a few more quarters so no one would be disappointed.

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4.  I left money on a Redbox machine to pay for someone’s movie for the day. I even hid it behind the screen so there would be an element of surprise! (I love surprises!)

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5.  Who can resist Girl Scout cookies? Often, when I’m entering or exiting a store, I’m consumed by an overwhelming sense of guilt because these sweet girls are trying to raise money for their troop, but we’ve already bought cookies from our niece. (Heaven knows we do NOT need any more cookies in this house!) Today, however, I went right up to the table, money in hand, and asked if I could by a box to donate to someone else. Thankfully, they were prepared for my request with a box already designated for donations to the Hanover Safe Place. I let the Girl Scout choose her favorite box (Samoas!) to donate on behalf of #AMOK.

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(Yes, her mom gave verbal permission for me to post these photos!)

6.  My final random act of kindness was done as I was heading back to my car. I saw one of the Kroger workers gathering all the shopping carts to return to the store. I recognized him instantly (I shop at Kroger a lot), and approached him with a smile. “Hi,” I began, as he turned his head in my direction. “I know you never ask for tips and this is just part of your job, but I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for all you do. You remind me a lot of Mr. Leon who used to work here; I’m sure he would be proud of all you do to help others.” With that, I placed $5.00 in his hand as the smile spread across his face. “Thank you ma’am,” he replied, as I quickly turned and walked to my car.



My morning RAKs were quick little sprinklings of kindness here and there; nothing outrageous or grand, but small reminders to others that there is still good in this world. Imagine how wonderful this world would be if EVERYONE ran #AMOK with kindness!

This week we visited the Jelly Belly factory in Wisconsin. (Yes, we are a long way from home!) We took a tour through the warehouse and learned lots of interesting facts about how Jelly Belly gourmet jellybeans are made.

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As the tour ended, the workers passed out free bags of jelly beans to all the riders. What a sweet random act of kindness!

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As we were walking through the store, deciding what kinds of treats we wanted to purchase, I decided to “sprinkle kindness like glitter” (thanks, Renee!) and bless others around me.

I put quarters in the candy machines. I left quarters near the candy jars at checkout. I even left a dollar in the candy corn bin, my youngest son’s favorite Jelly Belly product.

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What fun! The best part was discovering my surprises had been taken in the time it took for me to complete my mission.

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Yes, I realize my RAKs are small, but just knowing that someone else was blessed with an unexpected sweet treat made me smile. What a wonderful way to roll into a new year!

May 2015 bless you with abundance and joy through all your adventures. Thank you for continuing to share this journey with me! 🙂

This random act of kindness dedicated in memory of Renee Parr.

Living in the 21st century provides many perks and conveniences.  For example, I can do most of my shopping online and have items delivered to my house without even having to change out of my pajamas.  Talk about convenience!  In fact, this shift in mobile purchasing has actually reshaped our country’s advertising and marketing strategies for Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year!

There are times, however, when convenience and speed aren’t necessarily a priority for me.  As much as I love technology (I’m a tech-geek at heart!), there’s something to be said for doing things “the old fashioned way.”  That’s how I feel about grocery shopping.

I think my fascination with grocery stores began when I was in college.  I scraped change to make ends meet, never having enough money to splurge on “good stuff” (hence, I survived off ramen noodles, lol.)  I loved coming home to visit my Grandma Payne and she would always end our visit with, “I’ve got to pick up a few things from the grocery store.  Would you like to come with me?”  This was always said with a smile and a wink because we both knew the trip would end with her writing a check well over $100 and my car being stocked full of necessities.

I remember walking with her through the aisles, never rushing, always taking our time looking at all the options.  I can still hear the ping of the cash register buttons as the price was manually punched in.  I couldn’t wait to be at an age where I could buy ANYTHING I wanted from a grocery store.

Even today, grocery shopping is my favorite chore.  While I now make lists on my phone instead of paper, I still appreciate the old-fashioned feel of a grocery store.  I like the brightness of the store. I enjoy chatting with the friendly workers who greet you with a smile as you walk down the aisle (not just at the entrance.)  I like the fact that someone is willing to bag my groceries and take them out to my car without expectation of a tip.  (Although, it took me a while to be OK with that one – I have tried to tip them so many times!)  In fact, when I’ve been away from the house for a few hours, my family jokes that I must have ended up at a grocery store.

So you can imagine my delight in meeting Mr. Leslie “Leon” Hobbs five years ago.  An older black gentleman, Mr. Leon was at the end of my checkout line, bagging my groceries as I tried to waddle through the narrow space to place my grocery items on the conveyor belt.  I was 8 months pregnant, it was a hot and humid August day, and for the life of me I could not get around my cart to reach in and grab the canned vegetables that slid to the back of my cart.  Mr. Leon tapped me on my shoulder saying, “Excuse me Miss, let me get those for you.  You need to rest.  You have a baby in there!”  We both laughed as I backed out of the aisle (even the memory makes me laugh now because, seriously, I was HUGE!).  Mr. Leon finished unloading my cart, then continued bagging my groceries and walked with me to my car.

“Where to, pretty Miss?”  His smile was infectious.  I was drawn to his sweet, southern style as we approached my car.  “Now you need rest.  You let me take care of those bags for you.  You don’t need to work when it’s so hot out here.  I’ll do it for you.”  I will admit I felt a little awkward, even in my pregnant state, to stand idly to the side while an older man loaded my groceries.  In my mind it didn’t seem right!  I was perfectly capable of loading my own groceries!  But the one thing I learned about Mr. Leon that day was that any argument would fall on deaf ears when it came to helping him do his job.  This was HIS job and HE was going to do it!

After putting my groceries away, Mr. Leon reached into his pockets to pull out two plastic wrapped mints.  “This one is for you, and this one is for the baby when he comes.”  He would never take a tip, pushing back any money offered to him.  “No ma’am, this is my pleasure to serve you.  You are the reason I am so blessed to work here.  Thank you for shopping at Kroger and allowing me to have this job.”

My day was always brighter after a visit with Mr. Leon.

Since that time, Mr. Leon has become a familiar name in our family.  Whenever we shop at Kroger, we look to see which line he’s bagging and we will get in his line, no matter how long the wait.   He seemed to have an endless supply of mints and somehow always found a way to slip in a “few extra” for the kids he knew I had at home.  We always said “Hi, Mr. Leon!” if we saw him in or out of the store. His eyes would light up when you called him by name, yet they would spark a fire if you ever tried to grab those bags to load yourself.  He took pride in his job, and it showed.

You can imagine my heartbreak when I learned that Mr. Leon had passed away this past weekend.  What?!  Not Mr. Leon!  No!  Like a child, I wanted to stamp my feet in refusal.  How could this be?!

“To every thing there is a season… a time to live and a time to die.”  It was my Grandma’s favorite bible verse (even carved into her headstone), and it was my immediate answer from God.  Mr. Leon passed away because he was a good and faithful servant and his time was done.  It was that simple.

I contacted the Kroger store manager, Mr. Scott Jones, and was told they would hold a balloon release later in the week in Mr. Leon’s memory.  In the moment of acceptance, I felt so helpless.  I wanted to do something, anything, to process my grief, but what could I possibly do to make anything better?

I RAK’d it out.

I accepted money from friends to pass along to his family.

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I attended the balloon launch.

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A Kroger employee passed out Leon’s mints to the crowd.

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The yellow balloon made me think of Mr. Leon’s bright smile. I love how it’s the last balloon to lift off.

I signed Mr. Leon’s banner.

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And I realized through all these acts of love and remembrance that I was not alone.  Apparently Mr. Leon treated EVERYONE the way he treated me!  So many people shared stories of how Mr. Leon brightened their day with kindness.  It was truly overwhelming to see a community gather to show their appreciation for someone who carried groceries to their car.  It only goes to show that you CAN make a difference in someone else’s life just by doing what you do, but doing it well.

I returned to my beloved Kroger store the day of his funeral to discover an empty candy bowl at his memorial site.  I did the only thing I could do.  I bought some mints from the store and refilled his cup for all the times he refilled mine.

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The next time you are shopping and someone offers to bag your groceries, take them up on their offer.  Smile at them.  Let them know how much you appreciate them doing their job well.  Take a moment to enjoy the “old fashioned” way of doing things.  You never know how far your kindness will reach.

Did you know that today, March 1, 2014, is the Annual Melee of Kindness? According to http://www.therandomact.org, over 498 participants in 18 countries performed 156 acts of kindness all in one day last year.  How fun!

This year, I’m adding two of my own acts to the list.  Read below to find out what I did!

AMOK RAK #1

My niece has a severe dairy allergy that prevents her from enjoying many of the sweet treats children take for granted. Ice cream. Chocolate. Cookies. Cake.  Sure, there are substitutes out there she can have but nothing can compare to a surprise trip to an ice cream parlor like Sweet Frog or Coldstone.  We were chatting one afternoon and being almost 7 she said that she was too scared to get retested because she knew it would hurt.  I told her if she went ahead with the test and found out she wasn’t allergic to dairy anymore that I would take her out and she could get any ice cream she wanted!

Well, my brave little niece went ahead and got retested only to discover she had not outgrown her allergy.  No ice cream allowed. Poor thing!  I found out what her favorite candies were (that she was allowed to eat) and made her this candy gift instead.  It wasn’t much, but it was the least I could do to reward her bravery!

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AMOK RAK #2

In preparation of making the candy treat above, I went to our local grocery store to purchase the items needed.  As I was walking through the busy parking lot, I heard an older gentleman asking for directions.  “Excuse me, can you help me find Fed Ex?”  He was holding a piece of paper, pointing to something circled, the Fed Ex emblem bright enough to see several feet away.

Now let me stop here to say I am cautious about speaking to strangers, especially when I am alone.  However, this was a very busy parking lot with cars and people all around, and something prompted me to smile and offer my assistance.  “Absolutely!” I responded.  I walked towards him and sure enough, the item circled on his paper was a street address for Fed Ex.  I really had no idea how to get there, so I pulled out my cell phone, located my favorite traffic/navigation app, Waze, and punched in the address.

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“Ahhh – that’s why you are lost… this street actually stops at a dead end, then picks back up on the other side of a neighborhood.”  I could see the relief flood through his eyes.  “Thank you so much!” he replied.  “I’ve been driving up and down the road and thought I had lost my mind!”

I explained to him exactly where to go, then we parted ways with smiles on both our faces.  It felt good to help out someone in need!

I hope you are blessed by my stories and inspired to do your own RAK today in celebration of AMOK!  🙂

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For Random Act of Kindness #3, I honored the memory of Lauren Rousseau, a substitute teacher for Sandy Hook Elementary.  As an educator myself, I can appreciate the valuable service substitutes provide for occasions when the regular classroom teacher has to be absent from class.  Their job is one of the hardest in the educational system, in my opinion.  They have to be flexible, open-minded, quick on their feet, and deal with unexpected circumstances all day long.  With a humble heart, I decided to take the time and say “Thanks” to an unknown substitute teacher!

I decorated a coffee mug with a silver sharpie and filled it with chocolate “Bliss” candies.  I also included a Thank You note with the surprise.

IMG_4608(The mug says “Super Substitute” all the way around the outside.)

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I took my goodies to my son’s elementary school (on a dreary day filled with rain, so I KNEW this would bring a smile) and asked the secretary to deliver it to a substitute.  “ANY substitue?” she asked.  I smiled, explained my purpose, then added, “Yes… ANY substitute.  You get to pick!”   I then walked out of the office with a happy heart.

When was the last time someone thanked you for a job well done?  It’s something we do not hear often enough.  Today I am thankful for substitute teachers.  For Lauren.  For my cousin, Amy.  For my friends Becky, Kelleigh, Amy, Beth, Lea, Stephanie, and all the other amazing teachers who fill the shoes of others every day.  I am inspired by their tenacity and love for children.  I can only hope that the family of Lauren Rousseau will know just how special she was to the students and teachers at her school.

Be blessed my friends and keep paying it forward!


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