celebrate kindness

Posts Tagged ‘dollar

Today I arrived in Philadelphia, PA for the ISTE Conference (#ISTE2015 for those of you on Twitter) – a jam-packed whirlwind of learning for all things related to educational technology. (That’s a really fancy way of saying the most awesome conference ever for teachers-turned-tech-geeks like me.)

As you may know, Philly is called the “City of Brotherly Love.” This evening we had the opportunity to shower a local restaurant with kindness, by pre-paying pizza slices for homeless in the area at Rosa’s Fresh Pizza. The concept is simple:

Each slice of pizza costs $1. You can buy a post-it note for $1 and write a personal message, then put your note anywhere in the restaurant. If someone is hungry, but doesn’t have any money, they can take a post-it off the wall and trade it in for a slice of pizza.

Genius.

On average, Rosa’s feeds 40 homeless people a day. Multiply that by 365 days in a year and you can see how this small RAK could impact many!

Knowing I would be in town for this conference, I posted on FB an opportunity for any friends to join me in this random act of kindness. It would be a virtual RAK Mob for them, but a real one for me as several of my Twitter PLN (personal learning network) were planning to visit and donate as well. I couldn’t WAIT for today to arrive!

Well, arrive it did, complete with cold, dreary temperatures and pouring down rain.

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Not quite the “ideal weather” for walking around an unfamiliar city, that’s for sure! My co-worker, Heather, was kind enough to lend me an extra rain jacket as we shared an umbrella, braving the driving rain and winds with Stacie and Fay.

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Earlier in the day, Fay and I passed the time away in the backseat of the van writing out post-it notes for all the donations received. Thank goodness the drive was 6 hours – we had plenty of time to get everything ready for tonight! With each note we wrote, we thought about the blessings we were passing along to others.

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Despite the drenched jeans, soggy footwear, really bad hair, and a few wrong turns, we finally arrived at Rosa’s Fresh Pizza.

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Photo Jun 27, 7 07 09 PM

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There was a short line, so we waited patiently for our turn to order. While we waited, we were able to watch the cook toss the pizza dough just like in the movies. That was such fun! Before too long, it was our turn to order. We bought several slices of pizza to eat for our dinner, then it was my turn to RAK Rosa’s!

If you click on the blue link above and watch the video, you already know how much money we donated, but for those who don’t have video-enabled devices, let me share the joy that we were able to purchase 125 slices of pizza for those in need!

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Oh, what a wonderful RAK! The entire restaurant erupted in applause when we finished and everyone had smiles on their faces! Then came the really fun part… placing all 125 post-it notes on the restaurant walls!

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We had so many post-it notes, we had to place them all around the restaurant with customers offering to help. The camaraderie of everyone there, helping one another for a common cause, was a humbling, yet energizing moment.

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Stacie brought her own donations and filled out post-it notes on the spot, and Heather did her own RAK by purchasing me an official “Rosa’s Pizza” t-shirt, with half the proceeds going towards pizza slices for the homeless.

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We ate our pizza and took time to read the sweet notes and letters taped to the walls.

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And then… I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and it was like a family reunion! All my favorite Twitter peeps, the guys and gals I’ve been chatting with though social media for the past year were HERE! I’ve never met any of them in real life, yet felt as if I’ve known them forever! What a joyous way to wrap up my night!

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Me and Ashley Hurley (@ashleyhurley)

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Sarah Thomas (@sarahdateechur), me and Ashley (and an awesome photo bomber in the back!)

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Rodney Turner (@techyturner) and Tara Linney (@TechTeacherT)

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#ISTE2015 – EduMatch was HERE!

If you are attending the ISTE Conference this week and would like to join in on this RAK Mob, it’s not too late! Grab a friend or two, make your way down to 25 S. 11th Street and get ready to be humbled and blessed all at once. It’s a unique opportunity to join in the fun and leave this city of brotherly love a little better than when you arrived. Visit the @SliceofISTE website for more information!

All week long I’ll share blog posts of random acts of kindness I see and do during the conference. If you do a RAK, post on Twitter with #ISTERAK – our own personal hashtag for documenting random acts of kindness while at ISTE.

A special thanks to the following people whose generosity and passion for kindness made this RAK possible:

Sarah Armentrout

Amy Gregory

Torrie Goodman

Jennifer Hicks

Heather Nunnally

Allison Waggy

Vicki Williams

You inspire me every single day!

Be blessed, my friends, and follow me on Twitter (@HCPSTinyTech) to stay up-to-date with conference tweets, RAKS, and more!

 
    

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Woo-Hoo! Welcome to the wonderful world of BLACK FRIDAY! To say that I look forward to this one crazy shopping day of the year is a complete understatement. I cannot WAIT for Black Friday to arrive! I love so many things about this day: The excitement! The energy! The reduced prices! It’s the one day of the year where I am guaranteed to be child-free, can shop for 10 hours straight, spend money without worry, all the while getting the majority of the items on my Christmas list marked off. For me, Black Friday is the ultimate day of productivity.

Now I know several friends of mine will read this and roll their eyes. “Black Friday shopping? Who in their right mind would do THAT?!?” And… they’re right. It takes a really special shopper to tackle the crowds on Black Friday. But what greater opportunity is there to show kindness to others?

This year I was extra excited about Black Friday, because I was already plotting ways I could deliberately bless others on such a maddening day. The first thing I did was stop by a Starbucks. After all, shopping in and out of stores where the temperature was a frigid 29 degrees outside… one might need a little pick-me-up to make the adventure more bearable!

As I stood in line to get my tall salted caramel mocha, my gaze wandered across the yummy muffins and pastries. I immediately thought of my family members who were stuck working retail jobs on Black Friday. What types of customers would they encounter today? Would their day end in satisfaction or exasperation? I decided that a surprise treat might be just the thing to put a smile on their faces.

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My first stop was JCPenney’s to surprise my cousin, Becky. It took me about 20 minutes just to find her in the sea of customers waiting in the checkout line. That’s her on the far right side – you can barely see her from the back of the line!

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I snuck around the corner and slipped her Starbucks treat right as she was finishing a sale. (I would have brought her a drink, too, but I wasn’t sure if she was allowed to have one while working on the floor!)

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My next stop was on the other side of town to surprise my sister, a shift supervisor at CVS. Thankfully there are Starbucks coffee shops all over the place, so I was able to grab a hot drink and a muffin to bring a smile to her day.

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(Yes, she is tired. She had to be at work at 2am, following our family Thanksgiving dinner the night before. This picture was taken around 9am, almost at the end of her shift. She definitely deserved a pick-me-up!)

Back in the car, I was excited to start shopping. But first I had to get to the stores! Have you driven around on a Black Friday? Just the driving alone might send you fleeing back to the safety of your home. But I was determined to show kindness, even in my car. I smiled and waved at complete strangers, patiently allowing them to merge in front of me as they went about their way.

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Almost to the local mall, I thought about families who weren’t as blessed as me to have the ability to shop on Black Friday. So many families are struggling this time of year, especially with unforseen layoffs and other monetary challenges. While adults can understand these constraints, it can be really hard on the children. I decided to make my next Random Act of Kindness focused on kids.

Entering the parking lot of a Dollar Tree, I was almost giddy with my plans. Just imagine if you were a child, entering this store with your mom, dad, or grandparent, and this is what you discovered:

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Yes! I went into this store and hid three one dollar bills among different toys, all at a child’s eye level. SO MUCH FUN! I really wanted to wait and see a child discover the money, but there wasn’t a single child in the store. However, as I was headed to my car, I saw a mom with three (THREE!) children walk into the store. It was a divine setup!

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I knew without a doubt that my being at that store, with that specific Random Act of Kindness, was nothing short of God showing his love to his children. It literally gave me chill bumps!

As my day progressed, I finally found myself at Kohl’s, my last store of the day. The checkout line looped down one side and around another. Unknowingly, the line I found myself waiting in led to Customer Service, not the actual checkout counter. Oh no! I had already waited in line for 20 minutes – did I have enough energy to get out of this line and start all over in the “real” checkout line? As I was pondering this dilemma, I overheard several other ladies in an animated discussion about this particular line. “Yes, it’s for Customer Service, but they are also doing regular purchases, too.” “Why on EARTH would they do that?” “I think all the lines are long so it doesn’t really matter.” “Well, it matters to me. All I have is one item to return. I wish people would just go to the regular checkout and leave this one for Customer Service.”

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Yeahhhhhh… here I am, standing right in the mix of these ladies with boots, sweaters, jewelry, wrapping paper… I had so many items to purchase I was literally sliding the shoebox with my foot along the ground because I couldn’t possibly carry another item with my hands. Since I knew it would be near impossible for me to gather my items and try to start over in another line, I made a conscious decision to do something nice to the woman behind me; the woman who only had one thing left to return. I think you can tell by this photo who was enjoying this day more…

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When you stand in line for over an hour just to spend money on gifts for other people… well, you have lots of time to think, listen, and learn. I’ve discovered that patience (not necessarily a strength of mine), is an essential skill for withstanding the trials of Black Friday shopping. Oh, how many times I could have lost my patience!! But what would have been the end result? Would it have gotten me closer to the finish line (a.k.a. Customer Service)? Nope. So why lose patience over something I have aboslutely NO CONTROL over? I chose to go shopping today. I chose to shop at the store with the really good sale prices and free coupons. Standing in line was simply part of the process. So why complain about it when I was here BY CHOICE?

Which brings me to my next act of kindness. Remember me mentioning doing something nice for the lady behind me? The gal who was not too happy about all the regular shoppers being in the Customer Service line when she only had one thing to return? Well, I did the only thing I could think to do to make her smile: when it was my turn at the checkout counter, I let her go before me. Because that’s what kindness is all about. 🙂

The gal behind her was now behind me. I remembered her telling a story about her grandson scratching off all the discount scratch-off coupons (thus making them invalid to use). As she was called to the register beside me to purchase her items, I quietly slid my 15% off coupon to her with my business card and a smile. She was touched by my generosity, promised to pay it forward, and agreed to take a picture for the blog. Can you see our joy for finally crossing the finish line?

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But this Black Friday Random Act of Kindness BLOWOUT would not have been possible were it not for my husband and children left behind at home. Yes, this was my day to do as I pleased. But it wouldn’t be right to have this much fun and not include them. So as I left my last store, I made yet another stop at Starbucks and picked up some coffee for me and my husband and some sweet treats for the kids. It was a small gesture to say “Thanks!”, but one I knew would make them smile.

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So, as you are reading stories of how horrible Black Friday is, and how mean people can be, just remember there are a FEW people out there who are truly trying to make a difference in the midst of it all. I really do love Black Friday in all its chaos and confusion. Where else can complete strangers find commonality in their craziness?

Be blessed my friends! May your holiday season be filled with peace, joy, and love wherever your travels take you!

A few months ago my husband and I were sharing a conversation about traveling, friends, etc and I mentioned how much I would love to return to the place where I had so many firsts: first purchased home, first teaching job, first child. My husband used to serve in the U.S. Air Force and one of our most memorable locations we lived was the place of firsts: Las Vegas, NV. As the most amazing birthday surprise ever (revealed to me 40 days before my 40th birthday), my husband arranged a weekend trip for me to fly back to Vegas, reconnect with friends, visit our old stomping grounds, and ring in this birthday milestone like no other. What an unexpected joy!

On the cross-country flight, I found myself in a window seat beside two delightful ladies any traveler could ask for. We immediately settled in, made introductions, started passing magazines back and forth, and… well, once we started chatting we never stopped!

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I learned their names (Tamera, who goes by Tammy, on the far left; Lori “with an i” in the middle), listened to life stories, and reminded myself yet again why I love to travel. We were all traveling for pleasure, which made the anticipation of our impending Vegas arrival all the more exciting. Lori and I were surprised to discover that despite the amazing journeys our new friend, Tammy, had taken, she had never been to Vegas! Never! We were both almost giddy in our delight to share what we knew about this crazy and fun city. We had a newbie in our midst!

It was then that I knew Tammy would be my next Random Act of Kindness. I had already shared with them the details about my 40th Birthday Project, so as the flight attendants made announcements about our arrival, I reached across and gave Tammy a dollar bill. “For your very first slot machine! You can play right in the terminal!” Lori handed her a dollar as well, then we followed her as she enjoyed playing her very first Vegas slot machine. The pictures say it all!

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She was a winner! How exciting! It was such fun to watch her play those bills and walk away a tiny bit richer! It also reinforced the joy in sharing kindness to strangers while traveling. Had I not taken a few moments to simply say hello to my seatmates, I might have missed the opportunity to get to know some really sweet gals and share in the fun! What a great way to start my birthday weekend!

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