Celebrating a Birthday Differently

It’s incredible to see the effects that random acts of kindness have on others.

My dad has always been one to go out of his way for others: from holding a door for others to anonymously paying for a soldier’s meal. These traits were passed down from his parents, and he and my mother have passed them to my sister and me. It’s an ideal and attitude we’ve grown up  with,and one I’ve always been proud of.

But on his 40th birthday, my dad did something amazing,  something that made me more proud of him than I have  ever been before. Influenced by one of his friends, he  made the decision to spend his birthday doing 40  random acts of kindness.

With me being away at college, I couldn’t help him out. But I was able to follow his journey on Facebook along with many others who were in awe of the way he chose to spend his birthday. People followed his journey from beginning to end and never stopped giving him words of encouragement. They expressed their awe in how my father chose to spend his 40th. The effect he had on them was obvious and incredible.

The 40 Acts

Copied directly from my dad’s Facebook page:

1. Flowers and/or treats for the special ladies in my life…at home, at work, and far away!
2. Send a note to a former teacher to thank him for his influence.
3. Send a note to a former boss to say thanks for her leadership and gving me great opportunity.
4. Kiss and hug my wife and daughter and tell them I love them!

5. Send messages to the many people who have helped me in my health and fitness journey over the past three years.
6. Send a note to a mentor to thank him for his influence and guidance.
7. Send a note to my neighbors to let them know how much I appreciate them.
8. Share a favorite recipe on Facebook.
9. Offer my services as a designated driver on Friday night.
10. Leave a treat and note in the mailbox for our mailman.
11. Call family and friends to wish them a great day and tell them how much they mean to me.
12. Give random compliments to strangers throughout the day.
13. Be a friendly & courteous driver all day
14. Pick up trash everywhere we go.

15. Buy scratch-off lottery tickets and hand out to random people throughout the day.
16. Pay for someone else’s gas – leave gas card in pump with note.
17. Buy breakfast for an elderly gentlemen eating alone.
18. Leave a stack of coins on the horse at Meijer.
19. Corral the loose carts in the Meijer parking lot.
20. Leave returnable cans & bottles in a cart in Meijer bottle return.
21. Bring cookies to the fire station.
22. Bring doughnuts to the police station.
23. Bring muffins to financial advisor’s office with a note of thanks.
24. Clean out bookshelves at home and donate to library.
25. Send a thank you note and care package to soldiers in Afghanistan.
26. Clean out closets and donate clothes to Goodwill.
27. Hide dollars in the toy section at Family Dollar.
28. Clean out pantry and donate 20 lbs of non-perishable food to Loaves & Fishes food bank.
29. Bring in donations for animal shelter – blankets, towels, bleach, hand soap, hand sanitizer.

30. Bring new puzzles, games, books, and toys to Bronson Children’s Hospital.
31. Tape quarters to vending machines at the hospital.
32. Put quarters in random expired meters downtown.
33. Leave notes with compliment, words of encouragement, & jokes under people’s windshield wipers.
34. Free high fives on the Kalamazoo Mall.
35. Donate needed items to women’s shelter – formula, baby food, tissues, and feminine hygiene products.
36. Stop in at a nursing home and bring magazines, playing cards, and puzzle books for the residents. 
37. Compliments to the chef/waitress at breakfast and dinner – tell the manager!
38. Help a neighbor rake his leaves.
39. Mentor a child & teach her the value of doing something for OTHERS.
40. Save lives by giving blood! Will be done on Apr 8…first time I’ll be eligible to give again since Apr 2012.

One of the most special things about this day, hinted in #39 of this list, was that he didn’t do this on his own. My little sister, who was 12 at the time, was helping him with everything: from the grocery shopping trips preparing for this, to giving out the free high fives, to handing donations to different groups. Not only was he helping others this day, but he helped embed the love of helping others into my sister as he has done for me countless times.

He spent a day with her filled with happiness, love, and generosity. She gained a great memory and a great lesson with my dad.

It’s a wonderful thing to do random acts of kindness, but it’s an even better thing to inspire and influence others to do the same. He spread so much love that day, but it didn’t stop there. This chain of kindness continued to influence others to do selfless acts, and it also influenced myself to do 20 acts of kindness for my 20th birthday.

My parents believe it’s important for my sister and me to have these kinds of values, so they actively teach us. They allow these values to reflect in themselves, and they set great examples for us every day. This allows my sister and me to mirror the type of people they are.

Actions definitely speak louder than words. So, get your own family involved in doing something great! Teach your kids from a young age the value of helping others, and do kind things with them.

My dad spent one day of his life focusing on helping others. He touched so many lives that day both indirectly and directly. Some who probably appreciated his acts more than he realizes. You don’t have to go to this extreme, but I hope this inspires you to do something great for someone today!

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