celebrate kindness

Posts Tagged ‘playground

If you are looking to sprinkle kindness like confetti, this weekend was made for you!  The Annual Melee of Kindness (#AMOK2016), hosted by Random Acts, is a bit like a flash mob of kindness with people all across the world doing nice things for others and sharing their stories on Facebook and Twitter. It’s so inspiring to read all the awesome things strangers are doing for one another!

My #AMOK was inspired by my daughter’s recent choral competition. Their theme focused on Disney princesses with each section representing a different princess, who showcased their “strengths” through choreographed dances and acapella ballads. There was one girl in the middle, who wore a black dress, an outcast of sorts who didn’t fit in to any of the traditional princess roles. As the story is showcased, each princess group tries to convince the girl to be like them, rotating around her and emphasizing their strengths. The girl finally comes to the realization that she can be her own princess, taking pride in the strengths that make her unique. The show ends with all the princesses shining the spotlight on her and her black dress is transformed to one of gold.

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I know I’m biased in saying this, but it’s a spectacular show!

My daughter showed me the shirt they wore at their competition and I immediately thought of Renee Parr, a 1st grade teacher at my school who died suddenly in the summer of 2014. She loved princesses and always wore a tiara at any opportunity to shine. Even at her funeral, her mom wore a tiara and spoke of Renee’s living legacy as a princess in her heart.

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My daughter’s shirt also reminded me of my college sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, whose colors are turquoise and silver. One of ZTA’s key symbols is a five pointed crown and their motto is “Seek the Noblest.” How ironic that my daughter’s show choir would have symbols of the sisterhood I held so dear!

I knew right then that my #AMOK2016 had to have a princess theme.

I decided to spread kindness at a playground and stopped by The Dollar Tree to pick up a few things to give away. As if I needed any more confirmation about the princess theme choice, this is what I saw in the window:

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I couldn’t believe my eyes – an entire row of princesses stared back at me, just waiting to be bought and given away.

I scooped up some from the window, then added a few tiaras and sparkly butterfly wings. I even picked up a few butterfly catchers for any princes who might be playing at the playground, too.

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Before walking out of the store with my purchases, I left a few surprises to be discovered: money in the gumball machines and a few hidden dollars in the toy section.

My next stop was a local playground, but before I could even get there another playground caught my eye. It was old and faded, tucked in a bed of sticks and pine needles. I felt drawn to that location, so I made a quick stop and left a princess crown and butterfly catcher there.

Then, on a whim, I opened my wallet and took all the change I had and tossed it in the air, watching it scatter among the pine cones. Do you remember the thrill of finding money on the ground when you were young?

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I got back in my car and traveled to my final destination and left my treasures all around the playground equipment. There were a few children running about and it gave me such a smile to know they might get to enjoy the surprises I had brought.IMG_5043

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A tiara at the top of the tower.

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Butterfly wings for a princess.

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A butterfly catcher placed on a ramp.

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A princess toy waiting for a princess to swing.

I even placed a tiara on a frog, my mom’s favorite animal. Hopefully no one kisses him; I can guarantee he won’t turn into a prince!

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As I placed my final items around the playground, a dad caught my eye and said, “I have a pretty purple princess who would love to have whatever you’re passing out.” I smiled and pointed at the bench near the front of the park. “Please take those! They’re free! I’m doing random acts of kindness today, so take what you like!” His smile grew even wider as he replied, “Thank you!”

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Doing random acts of kindness always brightens someone’s day! If you missed out on #AMOK2016, then pick your own day to spread kindness to others and share out when you do. Every day is a perfect day to be kind!

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Today is the birthday of my dear friend, Toni, and I wanted to do a special random act of kindness to celebrate the day of her birth! Now many of you may know her as “that Zumba instructor”, and that’s how we first met about a year and a half ago when I started taking her group fitness classes at the local YMCA. I’ve even written about her before on my blog which you can read about here and here.

Well, since that time of doing Zumba with her, I started taking her Body Pump classes, too, because she is AWESOME and actually makes me forget that working out is… well, work! (Except for last night. Those lunges and squats holding weights were enough to make a person scream!)

But I digress; back to my RAKing. I wanted to do something special in honor of her birthday, something that would delight her spirit while staying true to her mission of keeping people fit, happy, and healthy.

I knew just what to do!

I stocked up my cart at the Dollar Tree and headed to the nearest playground. The weather has been cold and dismal the past few days, with melted snow and ice forming puddles alongside the sidewalks and roads. However, the weather is warming up tomorrow with highs in the mid 50’s, no chance of rain, only beautiful, sunny skies.

So to celebrate a break from the doldrums, I left a few surprises for any children who may happen to visit the playground tomorrow:

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Hula hoops. Paddle balls. Footballs. Bouncy balls. Bubbles. Lots of new toys for kids of all ages to enjoy as they stay active playing outside.

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Toni, I hope you enjoyed your special birthday RAK, and I hope whoever received these surprises shared in your joy. A special thanks to Jen Hicks whose donation to Celebrate Kindness helped to purchase everything you see here.

Be blessed and think of creative and fun ways to celebrate your friends’ birthdays this year! I promise it will make you happy, too! 🙂

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:

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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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