Tuesday, March 27, 2012

40 Planned Acts of Kindness

Happy birthday to me yesterday!

The leader of our local church congregation has encouraged us over the last few years to find the time to perform planned acts of kindness for others. I love the idea of random acts of kindness, but planned acts of kindness? Even better.

I love the feeling I get when I do something nice for someone else. Allen had asked me a couple of times what I wanted to do for my big 4-0 this year, and as I thought about it a plan came to mind. For 39 years my birthday has been all about me. And hey, that's awesome! But I thought it would be even awesomer to do something for someone else. Better yet, a lot of somethings. When I told Allen of my plan to perform 40 planned acts of kindness for others throughout March, using whatever money he would have spent on a birthday gift for me, he agreed.

I decided that I wanted to have my kids help out as much as possible so that they could experience that addicting, happy feeling that comes from doing kind things for others. I also planned to have all 40 things done by midnight on my birthday, March 26th.

Here's what I did.

1. Spent some time flying kites with our new friends at RAH.

2. Donated duffle bags for children in foster care (Thanks ~J!).

3. Bought candy bars for my cashier and bagger at the grocery store.

4. Made and gifted St. Patrick’s Day necklaces to the residents of Trinity Mission Care Center.

5. Gave a friend a much-deserved gift.

6. Bought some fun cupcakes for our friends at Medallion Manor.

7. Donated 3 boxes full of books to my kids’ elementary school’s library.

8. Donated 1200 swagbucks to the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

9. Donated a ginormous box full of fun magazines to our local hospital (Thanks Chip & Becky!).

10. Gave money to a homeless person.

11. Hid Easter Eggs filled with small prizes all over the place.

12. Brought flowers to a friend.

13. Donated a little extra to one child’s classroom fund.

14. Left quarters in the candy machines at the mall.

15. Nominated a very deserving 1st grade teacher for a district award.

16. Donated to a cute girl collecting money for the American Heart Association.

17. Left a bag with some change in it on a vending machine.

18. Gifted a new pair of stripey socks that I loved to a fellow sock-loving friend.

19. Took some treats to a friend.

20. Posted happy quotes in random places (elevators, street signs, people’s cars).

21. Donated to a friend's Walk for a Cure (Breast Cancer Awareness) campaign.

22. Bought a grocery gift card and asked the cashier to give it to whoever he thought could use it.

23. Bought some “Free Ice Cream” coupons from our favorite grocery store and passed them out in the store/parking lot.

24. Donated some peanut butter and cereal (2 of my favorite things!) to Community Action.

25. Busted out my sewing machine and made a purse like ElemenoB’s for a friend who commented on how much she loved it.

26. Made a donation towards finding a cure for FOP.

27. Put out the neighbors' garbage cans the night before garbage pick up.

28. Picked up trash and trash cans that had blown all over the neighborhood during a wind storm on garbage pick up morning.

29. Donated some needed items to Kids on the Move.

30. Left treats in the teacher’s mailboxes at the elementary school.

31. Made a gift for a friend.

32. Paid for the car behind me in Wendy’s drive-through.

33. Took a gift to a well-deserving friend.

34. Sent Red Vines to a pregnant lady in Canada who is craving them.

35. Left “Crayon Bombs” (boxes of Crayolas with this quote attached) around the city.

36. Took pictures for people at the lookout by the Salt Lake City Temple on the top floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

37. Purchased a STF gift card and taped it to the front door for the next customer to find.

38. Let my kids ride the crappy rides at the mall that I never want to pay for (paid for 2 other kids, too!).

39. Took some dessert to a dear friend.

40. Put together and donated birthday bags for Juvenille Justice Services.

Without going into details on each planned act of kindness (each one could be its own post, really) and the effect that so many of them had on me, I will say one thing - this was easily my best birthday, EVER.

Forty years feels pretty good on me.


Rachel said...

Aww man Gerb! I've been telling people when I turn 40 next year it is going to be ALL ABOUT ME AND MY MIDLIFE CRISIS!

Would you quit making me look so bad??????

You are truly one of the greatest people I know. I mean that sincerely.

The Black's said...

You are amazing! You have got to be one of the most thoughtful people I know. The world would be a much different place if we had more people like you! You inspire me to do more acts of kindness for others!

Kristin said...


Rory, Chocolate Hair/Vanilla Care said...

*crying* this is just so awesome.....

~j. said...

You've done far more than 40 this month-that's just who you are. Glad you had a happy bday, you deserve it.

Brown Thumb Mama said...

Wow. You super-rock!

La Yen said...

I love this. I want to do this for my birthday. And ALSO get presents and a nice dinner.

Chelle! said...

Aw...sounds like a fabulous birthday!

Petersons Blog Spot said...

I feel the same way Rachel! But with my 40th in a few more months I should give this some serious thought. Maybe I won't have a midlife crisis if I serve more - I mean, my calling is in compassionate service for crying out loud!

Thanks for your inspiring example Gerb!

Anonymous said...

So, that was YOU who did that for me. All I can say is thank you for your thoughtfulness. You are one amazing friend, Gerb.

Blogful said...

I saw the post from the gal that did this for her 38th. Your inspiration? I LOVE that you copied the idea. Can't wait for my bday. Way to go, Gerb. Happy Birthday

Linn said...

LOVE THIS SO MUCH I CAN HARDLY STAND IT! So awesome and I can't wait to steal the idea. (I read about this recently elsewhere also--love all you incredible people!). Happy, Happy Birthday Gerb!

Rebecca said...

You've made me cry, once again. So glad I've known you for the last quarter+ of your life.

Gerb said...

Thanks so much for your sweet comments, everyone! It was an experience I will never forget. Blogful or Linn, I would love to read about what that other gal did for her birthday. Do either of you have a link so I could go check it out? If so, email me (gerbdonna at gmail).

Gerb said...

WOW. I googled "38 birthday kindness" and got like a bajillion links. This is something people do all the time! Someone even has a website/Facebook group called The Birthday Project. How awesome is that?!

Janett said...

You amaze me and as a recipient of more then one of your acts of kindness I would like to thank you. You are adorable. And I can't help thinking of you as a little "Stargirl" like. I'm a little teared up by your kindness to others. We could all learn a little through your experience.

Maleen said...

That is the greatest idea. Although you forgot that you helped out by going to a book group and inspiring everyone to be a better person.
I'm glad you had a fabulous birthday!!

Steph said...

I love this idea. Thinking I should try it myself. Thanks for the idea.

Anaise said...

This is terrific! I'm going to steal some of your ideas to help us get to our 10,000! You have a joie de vivre that I so admire.

Kathy V said...

You have inspired me. If nothing else, I'm going to buy candy bars for cashiers. How fun. I am so overwhelmed by the duties of my life, that I never serve any more. Now I have lots of ideas for serving (and you've reminded me that I already serve in some small ways.)

Gina said...


Leslie Lim said...

This is really an interesting topic. Congratulations to the writer. I'm sure a lot of readers having fun reading your post. Hoping to read more post from you in the future. Thank you and God bless!


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