Acts of Kindness (and Another Giveaway!)

The most recent cover article I did for Her Life Magazine was about a young man named Jeffrey Owen Hanson. The article mostly focused on his mom, Julie… an amazing woman who has the desire to give to others more so than anyone I have ever personally known.

I don’t want to give the story away here, but I’ll give you a brief wrap up. Jeff was diagnosed at age 6 with a rare genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis. Jeff is now legally blind, but during part of his chemo and radiation treatment for a tumor on his optic nerve, Jeff found a hidden talent in painting and a passion for helping others. Jeff’s work has gotten noticed from people all around the world, including Sir Elton John.

Please click here to take a look at Jeff’s website (and make sure to read about Jeff’s Bistro)… his story is so inspirational. He has some gorgeous notecards for sale as well as a 2008 calendar benefiting charities close to his heart.

So, why am I blogging about Jeff today? Well, Jeff’s mom, Julie is a stay at home mom, but her work as a stay at home mom goes beyond what most of us would say is in our typical “job description.” Julie’s day is spent managing Jeff’s charity work and his commissioned canvas sales. She is trying to get the word out about his calendars, she is filling orders, she is on the phone from dawn to dusk managing this “foundation” all by herself. Her days are very happy and full doing her part to help raise money for the charities that are meaningful to their family… all this with a monetary paycheck of nothing.

When Julie has a rare free moment, would you like to know how she spends her time? She spends it baking… a hobby she loves to do. She bakes as often as she can and then…this is what I love so much about her… she gives her baked goods to others. She always wants to have something on hand. A loaf of bread to surprise someone just because. A batch of cookies to take to the community center. She surprises people randomly with her baked goods often.

I have always had an admiration for people who perform Random Acts of Kindness. I remember being at the drive through window with my mom and watching her give extra money to the cashier to buy the car behind us ice cream cones. Random or not, acts of kindness make us feel good and they definitely can turn another persons bad day around.

With the economy the way it is, and people suffering so, can you imagine how nice it would feel to be the giver and the recipient of something unexpected? Randomly pay for someones lunch. Buy something off of a strangers Amazon Wish List and have it sent to them. Bake up some baked goods and take them around to people you care about. Just do something… small or big, practice acts of kindness as often as you can.

For the next Taste of Home giveaway, I would like to hear what you have done or plan on doing to pass on kindness to others. Leave a comment after this post with the details of your act. Only comments sharing this information and with a valid email address will be a part of the random drawing. The deadline to comment is midnight CST on Wednesday, November 26th. There will be two winners… one for Light & Tasty Annual Cookbook from 2004 and one for the Taste of Home Low Fat Country Cooking.  Thanks again to Kate from Kate in the Kitchen for her act of kindness in sharing these wonderful cookbooks with you.

Pumpkin Bread

1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin

1 2/3 cups sugar

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 large eggs

3 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon baking powder

1. Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 loaf pans.

2. Mix pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla, eggs in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into pans.

3. Bake loaves for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans.

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  1. says

    Kristen, this is a wondeful idea! Now I can’t win, but my random acts are usually things like picking up trash, helping someone with their groceries…. I recall once being behind someone in a checkout line who was short money for her purchase. I gave the clerk some cash and had her give the change to the other person. Mike shovels out our neighbors driveways when it snows… Several of them don’t have snowblowers. We try to do our part and hope it trickles down.

  2. Chris says

    Thanks for the opportunities to get such great cookbooks. I am going home for Thanksgiving and planning on cooking the meal for my parents so that my mom can have the day off.

    Thanks again.

  3. says

    Another fun opportunity! I just did a giveaway on my blog where people shared RAK and it was so inspiring to read about them! ‘Tis the season!

    My most recent RAK is that today I noticed that the people across the street have had newspapers piling up on their driveway. I gathered them up and put them on their front porch. They must have forgotten to stop delivery when they left town.

  4. Melanie says

    I have a neighbor that is 73 years old and she was the manager of a credit union for years and retired at about 69 to take care of her husband that was sickly. I had just moved in the neighborhood and I saw her out and I spoke to her. She was just so warm and lovely and I just fell in love with her. As I got to know her (she is very smart & sharp as a tac) I learned that her husband was a double amputee and she took care of him while taking care of her 2 year old granddaughter. When I cooked supper, I would take some and put it in her mailbox and she would go to the mailbox and have some supper for her and her husband. He passed away 2 years ago and I still put stuff in her mailbox. It makes me so happy to know that she goes out there and is surprised that she has something to eat. I don’t do it everyday but many times a week. I bake a lot and I always send her something sweet. I still remember her telling me and she would go get the mail and see the food and go in and tell her husband that they got some mail and some supper. It just makes my day to do that for her. I am sorry that this is a long post but it means a lot to me. Thanks for listening:)

  5. says

    Finally! I am home so I can use my Mozilla browser. I love dropping baked goods and desserts off at my daughter’s school for no reason. Although it’s almost not an act of kindness: frankly it’s better there than at my house filling out my jeans.

  6. says

    I love RAOK! :) Last year for lent, besides giving something up, we made an effort to practice random acts of kindness. We:
    *paid the toll for the people in the car behind us,
    *placed stacks of quarters around a park (and secretly watched) for people to find them,
    *taped coins onto dollar bills (so they wouldn’t blow away) and dropped them in the Old Navy parking lot (you wouldn’t believe how people didn’t notice…we watched from the car),
    *my son “worked” the elevator at the mall for 20 minutes, holding the door and pressing the buttons. :)

    You’re inspiring me to get back into it again. We had fun!

  7. says

    I try to work at our free clinic on the Saturdays that I can. It’s really quite fun. We provide medical care for people without insurance or the ability to pay otherwise. Sometimes we even provide their medication for them. Even though it’s not pediatric patients (my true love!), I enjoy it.

  8. says

    I write (cards and letters) to elderly neighbors that have moved away for different reasons. Included in their mail are articles, photos, and neighborhood updates. Doesn’t everyone like getting an old fashioned piece of mail?

  9. says

    If this comes up twice I am sorry. I posted once and then my computer shut down. So here goes again.
    Well I like to do things all through the year, like bake for seniors in our church and make people meals. The fun thing is when we go out to eat if we see a senior sitting alone eating we like to pay for their meal, we tell the hostess not to let them know who paid for it.
    We have also adopted six Solders that we mail stuff out to a few times a year.
    I am really excited about our new thing we are doing. We are making 50 stockings and filling them for Seniors who have no family for the holidays, plus we will adopt one more we will buy a small tree for, make a dinner for and get a few gifts for. Just small little things. I want my children to have a giving heart towards others and to learn to help others. I hope they will keep these things in their hearts and then pass it on to their families and friends. If you ever go to a retirement home sometimes it will break your heat, those sweet seniors will grab your hand a beg you not to leave and some even ask you to take them home with you. Sometimes they are dropped off and never thought about again. I am getting excited about the holidays just thinking about it. :o)

    “The most important work we will ever do is within the walls of our home. -Harold B. Lee”

  10. says

    My husband was on the way to work on Friday and his work was holding their thanksgiving lunch for the employees.

    He stopped to pick up bread from Panera for the lunch and then ran next-door to the grocery outlet to pick up some butter. In line to pay there was an elderly woman ahead of him and he told me that she was clearly watching the balance rise and when the amount came to $35 dollars she started putting food back so she could keep the box of laundry soap that was on the belt. My husband said to her that he would get the balance and to keep the soap. She resisted at first and then agreed, saying she didn’t know how to repay him since she didn’t have much. He said, do something nice for someone else.

    I have to say when he told me the story I grinned with pride. I got a prince. So the story isn’t so much about me but my husband whose belly I cook for.

  11. says

    This is very inspiring. I try to live my life with kindness but in these disastrous economic times and at this time of the year, there’s always someone who is more needy. I am going to share the concept with my family at Thanksgiving and ask that each perform as many random acts of kindness as feasible between now and Christmas. Who knows? Hopefully, it’ll stick through 2009 and beyond.

  12. says

    I feel torn about answering. On one hand God tells us to do things so that the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing. On the other hand, I know God challenges us to encourage one another…

    The contest side of me wins.

    We’ve been striving to teach our children to do RAK as well as ourselves. From raking leaves to volunteering at the library, from inviting a single far-from-home friend to Thanksgiving dinner to learning another language so that you can communicate with others who are ignored, from immediately giving away your gloves and coat to a homeless in need to donating to charity/sponsoring a child – all of that is to be done to show the love of God.

    After all, it was God’s not-so-random act of kindness that gives us hope for better things to come.

  13. says

    Jeff’s story is close to my heart. I’ve worked for a nonprofit that helps children with multiple disabilities make art. When they couldn’t move their hands, I would give them a laser to wear on their heads or wrists and they would paint a canvas with that, me following their lasering with a painting tool and paint of their choosing. It was unbelievable work, something that changed my life. I feel so close to those artists, and could spend all day talking to them, even if they couldn’t talk because of their disability, then we would form some sort of sign language, sometimes I would ask yes or no questions and they would raise their eyes up or down to answer and I would go off their body language to decide what they wanted to talk about. It was really the best experience of my life.

  14. says

    This is so off the food arena, but so heartwarming to read. I especially have a soft spot for those in need. Like an ailing woman on the road (buy her some meds), or help a blind woman cross the road, or give my milk maid an allowance and some sweaters for the winter. It great to help others, even if it’s by just lending your hand.

  15. says

    What a coincidence! This thursday I had my friend round, she’s recently had a baby and so she came over to mine so her 3 year old could play with my daugther and she could get a bit of peace. She picked me up (I don’t drive) and drove me down to my daughter’s preschool. We were a bit early so I told her I wanted to pick up some sweets for the girls for when they watch a movie later. I quickly dashed into the corner shop and pharmacy and set about making her a little gift bag. I bought her a bar of chocolate, a magazine, a sachet of hot chocolate, a mud mask, a hair mask and a lovely bottle of bubble bath. I put it in a gift bag and hid it in her change bag. I then texted her partner and told him what I had done and asked him if he could make sure that she ran herself a bath and had some time to relax. I also cooked dinner for her daughter so she didn’t have to when she got home.

    I don’t have a lot of money, so I can’t usually make grand gestures. I didn’t even spend a lot of money but I think in this case it’s the thought that counts.

    I always try to help my friends out whenever I can as they always help me out, this friend gives me a lift EVERYWHERE! I just like to see people happy : )

  16. says

    what a story..there are so many really, truly good people out there.

    It’s nice to do little things that will make a difference in someone else’s life –

    I am pulling together a care package for a soldier in Iraq and not only is it fun, it’s nice to know that it will bring a smile to someone’s face.

  17. says

    Jeffrey’s story, although weighted with his own struggle is entirely heart warming. Julie also epitomizes my own thinking. The baking, freezing and then giving it away is totally addictive and feels good.
    Helping others, although always part of our upbringing, became a mission for me after I was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2001. After 5 1/2 yrs on dialysis, I was lucky enough to be the successful recipient of a kidney transplant. During my time on dialysis, paying it forward became a way of life. I now design and sell awareness jewelry for a number of charities and give back 50% profitshare to the charities. Just in the past few days, Ivy (Kopiaste), Val (More than Burnt Toast) and I have launched BloggerAid in our own blogging world to help raise money to feed the hunger. Starting with a few small items for sale and a network of ambassadors, we hope to generate enough money to make a difference. Each of our blogs is in launch mode. We are all part of a greater whole.


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