Saturday, December 4, 2010


For nearly a month now I have been considering the topic of my next blog. Usually the topics come so easily, but this time I just couldn't seem to get out of my head and onto the page. So, today as I rummaged through my emails, Facebook pages and Yahoo! news, I was struck by a constant theme which is current in my life. Giving. In particular, I am increasingly aware of random or as I call them, intentional acts of kindness. The only thing random about them is the recipient. The act is pure intention.

At the beginning of this month of December we celebrated Pay It Forward Day. You may not have been aware of it because you may not be on Facebook or you may not have watched one of the few daily news stations which carried the story. But there it was, December 1. Pay It Forward Day. A day started by a guy who just wanted to do something good for others and decided as the Michael Jackson song goes, "Started with the man in the mirror." So, he chose Pay It Forward Day. Do something for someone else with no strings attached. Commit an act of kindness and keep going, hoping but never knowing whether your act started and ended with you. Personally, I did what I am prone to do on any given day; I paid the tab of a person in the line behind me at the drive through and sped off. I giggled all the way down the road at the thought of that individual trying to understand why someone would do such a thing and hoped maybe, just maybe I made a difference in someone's life.

And that is it, isn't it? That is the reason we are all here bound to this earth, living and breathing day in and day out, learning, teaching, engaging each other in dialogue. We are here to be a comfort to one another, to make someone else's day, to help not hurt, to create a ripple effect in our very movement as we course through time and space. Yahoo! Year in Review: - Inspiring Acts shows us how simple it is to make a difference whether you are a five-year-old girl collecting cans to feed the homeless, or a 60-something heart transplant recipient speed walking marathons in every state to call attention to organ donation, you can make a difference.

We all want to do it. We all want to be the person who creates fundamental change in the lives of people we know, in our communities or around the globe. We all want to be the Oprah or the Bill Gates of our own little group of friends. And why not? Why shouldn't we be? What do they have that we don't besides money, time and resources? Nothing except the desire to see something through and the understanding that we can be instruments of change where we stand if we truly want to be. It really doesn't take much. Just one act, one intentional act can make the difference in someone else's life.

Here is a great way to start. Smile. That's right. Smile. Today when you go out try this experiment. When you walk into your office, into Starbucks, into the mall, simply smile. Smile at everyone you encounter. Intentionally. Put a lot of feeling into it. Smile with your eyes as well as your face. Smile with a breath inhaled and exhale it into the person you encounter. Do that and watch the reactions you receive. Look at the faces change as they smile back at you. As you go through the morning and smile, pay attention to how you feel when someone smiles back. Are you moving a little easier? Do you feel happier? Can your face stop grinning? Probably not. Now, when you encounter that usual sourpuss behind the counter at Burger Barn or the overworked clerk at your favorite retail outlet, or the curmudgeon in the cubicle next to yours you can think, smile and feel the disturbances melt away.

It really is that simple? Smile and all the world smiles with you? I believe so. I believe that when we do something good, smile at someone, pick up something they dropped, by them a cup of coffee - just because, it effects them. I know that when I have been the recipient of an act of kindness, I am moved to do something kind for someone else, just because I know how much it changed my disposition in the moment and I want someone else to feel that good. A recent ad campaign showed a person who witnessed an act of kindness being moved to commit one themselves, which was witnessed by someone who was then moved to commit an act of kindness and so on and so on. Kindness infinite.

So, what can you do besides smile at your neighbor? What can you do that will not take up your valuable extra money, spare time or resources if you have any of those? It could be as easy as helping a neighbor, a colleague, a friend during this rough time of financial transition. Maybe it is donating your old clothes, junk in your attic to your local freecycle community rather than your local charity. It could be as simple as you and nine of your friends each committing ten dollars a month to your local food bank or soup kitchen, which incidentally will provide about 200 meals to those in need.

Recently, my cousin, Juanda who works in Iraq encountered a colleague, Agnes from Uganda. They became friends and my cousin visited this woman's village when she returned home. What began as a small friendship has blossomed into one of the most remarkable acts of kindness I have ever encountered and galvanized an entire village - my family - into action on behalf of another. You can read about our efforts to create change in the world at We Can We Care, Inc. will build orphanages and schools in remote places around the world. As a family we have realized that what we have an abundance of could be shared and that even if the smallest of us could only give a little, our combined resources could make a significant difference in the lives of others. Exponential result from incremental giving.

My family's example is not unique. There are families, organizations and individuals around the world who are utilizing their seemingly small resources, finances and spare time to create change in the world, in their communities and in their own back yards. You can do it too.
  • Call your local homeless shelter and find out what you can do to help them during the winter months. Donations of warm clothes and blankets are always welcome.
  • Do you stay in hotels a lot? How about donating those little bottles of toiletries and soaps to your local woman's, youth or homeless shelter.
  • When was the last time you cleaned out your closet? Many communities have veterans groups or local charities which will pick up your donations if you call and schedule them. Just leave the donated items outside your door.
  • Do you belong to a book club? What do you do when you've read the monthly selection? Why not pass it along to a group home? Better yet, encourage the group home to read the book after your book club donates the books and you and a few club members meet with teens to discuss the books each month. Great way to mentor and give.
  • Do you like to cook? Have a new favorite muffin recipe? Your local Ronald McDonald House encourages individuals and community groups to prepare home-cooked meals and treats for families who are visiting while taking care of their sick children. Having a home-cooked meal or freshly baked muffins in the morning can make a big difference.
  • Do you get the biggest latte, soda or french fries you can order? Downsizing to the next size will not only save you as much as 50 cents per day, but if you commit to doing it five times a week with nine of your friends, you will save $100 a month to give to the charity of your choice. Get an art teacher for that after-school program down the street or a dance instructor for the community senior center. Use it to establish a scholarship fund for a student living in a homeless shelter.
There are so many things we can do with so little. We can make incremental changes and create exponential results if we just try just a little. One small change. Huge results. It is as simple as caring about the well being of a friend and telling your family about it. Come on. You can do it. Create a little change in your life. You'll be smiling at the results.

Robin G. White is the Executive Director of We Can We Care, Inc. which is dedicated to decreasing poverty and enriching the lives of the world's poorest children by building homes and schools and by providing renewable and sustainable resources for their health and well being. You can create change by contributing your tax deductible donations to our organization at On behalf of the children, we thank you.

Robin G. White is the award-winning author of Resurrection: A Collection of Work, Reflections of a Life Well Spent, First Breath, Intersections, The Omphaloskepsis Twelve Powers Journal and a host of children's books. You can read more about her at

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