It started with a crazy idea, as the best things always do.
Last winter I saw on Pinterest some inspiring people who did acts of kindness to celebrate their birthday. And that got the ol’ noodle a noodlin’. How cool would it be to take a day that is supposed to be about me and instead make it about helping others by aggressively forcing kindness out into the world. God calls us to go to extremes to love others and living that out seemed like a fantastic way to thank him for 26 years of my beautiful life.
For most of the summer I planned on not telling anyone or posting it on the blog. Typically when I step out in things like this it’s met with negativity. This wasn’t about attention or evangelism at all. We intentionally didn’t tell anyone what we were doing unless they asked.
Yet, the point of the day was for kindness and inspiration to ripple out, like those posts I saw on Pinterest. They were my inspiration and I hope my day inspires you to do something nice for someone. My friend (and super-helper for the day) Abbee donated 18 inches of hair and donated blood for the first time in honor of my birthday! What can you do today? (By the way, I expanded it out to my whole birthday week. I just couldn’t fit 26 meaningful things in one day and I wanted a balance of serving the people I love and random people). So without further adieu, here’s what I did:
1.) I helped paint my Mom’s living room. It went pretty fast and looked so great when we were done!
2.) I also helped paint the guest room at my sister’s house later that same day! House projects are so much more fun when you have someone else around.
3.) Tues-Thursday I chaperoned our youth group trip to the waterpark capital of the world, the Wisconsin Dells! Roller Coasters, Go-Karts, Waterslides, camping and bonfires… It was insanely fun!
We got back Thursday night and Abbee came over to help get all the final details set for the big day!
4.) Thursday night I wrote a letter to my sponsor child in India, Chandan and sent him an extra $10 as a special treat. To sponsor your own child visit Compassion International.
5.) Friday morning we started our day by going through the Caribou drive through and leaving a $5 gift card for person behind us. Mari Beth wanted to know all about what we we’re doing. She was so encouraging and so fun! The perfect start to the day.
6.) I treated Abbee to a coffee drink. It was the least I could do. She was an amazing partner in crime. I couldn’t have done all this without her!
7.) We bought another $5 Caribou gift card and left it for my mailman.
8.) Next we started driving towards the airport to pick up my friend Keilah. We saw an old man walking with a cane on the side of the highway. We looked at each other, one exit went by, should we go back? Finally we turned around to find him. We pulled off the side of the road and Bo struggled to get in the car. He winced with pain as he told us about his broken femur. We drove him 3 miles to the liquor store. He couldn’t have been more appreciative. He got two 12 packs of Milwaukee’s Best and we drove him back to his home. “Pull up on the side walk here next to these trees, this is my place.” Turns out Bo was homeless. Some might say we shouldn’t have fed his addiction, but he was going whether we drove him or not. He also had no access to pain prescription pain medications to help him. He smiled so wide when we picked him up and we made a new friend. Our day was about being kind to everyone, and honestly, I think he needed it way more than anyone else we helped all day! He told us to stop by his place anytime.
9.) While Bo was in the liquor store, I ran into the Dollar Store and left this in the Toy Section. I just wish I could have seen the kid’s face who found it.
10.) We left an envelope with popcorn, Swedish Fish and $2.00 on a Redbox.
11.) My friend Keilah from my Zimbabwe ministry was coming into town to complete a year long mission with CTI Music Ministries. She had 5 hours from when she arrived to when they picked her up so we Keilahnapped her. I donated to her trip as well. If you would like to help her out or contribute to CTI Music Ministries visit ctimusic.org. To donate to Keilah, write Keilah Quimby in the box during your donation.
12.) Next we drove to Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul. My amazing friend Katie used to work there and I wanted to do something nice for all the incredible people there. I brought a box of healthy snacks (granola bars, carrots, hummus, chip bags, bananas) for the nurses with thank you cards.
13.) I had $50 rebate card from my contact lenses so I bought a box of new toys for the kids. I had such a great time picking out toys I thought they would like! Here’s a list of needs for the hospital if you want to help out: Gillette Children’s Child and Family Wish List
14.) Before we left the hospital, we taped two envelopes with $1.00 in quarters on the vending machine for someone to enjoy a special treat.
15.) After the hospital, we stopped at Little Ceasar’s and brought a pizza lunch to some of my favorite people – Jaime, Dave and Rusty! Jaime wrote me a beautiful letter and decorated with balloons. They are the best.
16.) Throughout the day we handed out cold Gatorade to people we saw on this very hot day. My favorite was a man who was begging on the street. He was so thankful!
17.) After lunch we dropped Keilah back at the airport and drove to Lake Calhoun, a busy place at all times of the day. We left a ball on the playground for someone to play with.
18.) We walked around the lake handing out balloons to kids and kids at heart. One older woman smiled so wide and did a little dance when we gave her a balloon. She was fantastic!
19.) We also used the chalk to write nice and encouraging phrases around the sidewalks. There was a race the next day around the lake. Hopefully they made someone smile.
20.) We left bubbles in random places around the park for kids to play with.
21.) Finally, we left the chalk and wrote some messages around it. I wish I had gone back the next day to see what people wrote!
22.) My grandpa and uncle are buried in the cemetery right next to the lake. We left flowers on their graves. My grandpa died when I was 5 so I didn’t know him very well. Everyone says I would have really liked him. I think they’re right.
23.) I brought garden gloves so we could uncover some overgrown grave stones at the cemetery. Another amazing moment, the first grave we uncovered was Zafiria Devetzi – born on August 8th! What?! I got goosebumps. It was so cool! I sang her happy birthday.
24.) We said goodbye to our friend Betsy as Abbee and I went off to donate blood. I love to donate blood. It’s so important! Visit redcross.org to find a blood drive near you! Abbee donated for the first time ever!!
25.) After donating blood, we met 25 of my friends at Feed My Starving Children to pack meals. FMSC.org. They need many, many volunteers and funds to help kids around the world. We packed 50 boxes and over 10,000 meals! We fed 33 kids for an entire year in just 90 minutes. Afterwards, we all went back to my house for a yard game tournament, snacks and a bonfire. There was so much love in my house. It was the BEST day.
26.) The next morning I woke up and volunteered with Urban Homeworks, one of my favorite organizations. They repair foreclosed or condemned houses. Visit UrbanHomeworks.org for more info or to get involved!
Okay, okay, so maybe I went over 26. It’s hard to stop!!
27.) On Monday I stuffed folders at church for the upcoming discernment retreat with some of my favorite people. Come visit thedoor.org sometime. This church changed my life.
28.) For my grand finale of my week of Kindness, I volunteered my Dj skillz for Zach’s Carnival, an event to fundraise money for families who are battling pediatric cancer through the Miracles of Mitch Foundation.
Now the real question is, how will I top this for my 27th birthday?
This song can be found in my Music Playlist, “Recklessly Alive”.
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