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Feb. 17 Is National Random Acts of Kindness Day
Intro CopyAny amount of time spent watching, reading or listening to the news can make you really appreciate the value of random acts of kindness. Whether the gesture is big or small, random acts of kindness offer lots of benefits to both those who give and those who receive. There's happiness to be found in sharing a book, creating and hiding painted rocks or volunteering to watch the class pet. It doesn't matter what the act of kindness is, just as long as it comes from the heart. Editors Jaclyn Rosansky and Kim Carpenter collaborate on their experiences with acts of kindness. Jaclyn discusses finding painted rocks and Kim recounts her time visiting family in Kentucky and her niece's time with a class pet. February 17 is National Random Acts of Kindness Day so this post has been updated with ways to pay it forward during the year. Hidden Gems The concept of painting and hiding rocks for others to find is a great and creative way to bring a smile to someone's day. I became curious about this activity after venturing to Mullins Park (Coral Springs, FL). Painted rocks kept popping up left and right. On the back of each rock was a request to share it with a rock painting group on Facebook. Upon checking the online group, photo after photo of painted rock each with its own personality and flair appeared. At the top of the page was a message for the group to find some rocks, paint them and hide them and then share photos or leave hints of where to find them. And so, my own rock painting began. I began painting rocks in my spare time and sharing information with family members. It was agreed that painting rocks could be therapeutic. Some of my coworkers also joined in and we inspired each other with our designs and vibrant color choices. For some of us, painting rocks has been inspired by the holiday season. Trees, benches, and boulders became favorite hiding spots for the rocks. Hearing a burst of excitement when someone finds your creation is the best part just because it made that person's day a little bit brighter. Rock painting precedes social media. One woman who was hiding her creations at Mullins Park said she had been painting and hiding rocks since the 1970s. But the movement has really gained momentum over time. There are numerous online groups dedicated to sharing rocks that have been painted, hidden and found to make getting involved easier than ever. Visit The Kindness Rocks Project to view painted rocks within the online community for inspiration and share your own painted rocks. --Jaclyn Rosansky Little Free Library Each year I visit my family in Kentucky. During my trip last year, I enjoyed a day at Smother's Park in downtown Owensboro. It's a large park with a playground overlooking the Ohio River. I noticed a swarm of people around a small wooden box full of books. It was a Little Free Library. Parents were selecting books and the children were sitting around it in a circle reading to each other. I thought it was such a wonderful idea so I Googled it and found them all over the country. I've even noticed painted rocks hiding inside the library boxes in my community. It's important to incorporate random acts of kindness in your own community. Exchanging books with your neighbors is a great way to start. With the Little Free Libraries, you can share your appreciation for reading and promote literacy in your own neighborhood. They can be placed anywhere. Explore Little Free Library for more information and building instructions. Check out the map to see if you have one nearby, or build and register your very own for your community. Class Pet A classroom pet is another great way to share kindness. Having students take home the class pet during the weekend is also a great way to teach respect and responsibility. Hermit crabs, hamsters or bearded dragons are all great choices. A perfect example is a preschool my 5-year-old niece Addison attends. She brought home her classroom hermit crabs named Butterfly and Star and she even explained to me how to care for them. Check out Pets in the Classroom for a list of benefits, download lesson plans for incorporating pets into your classroom and you can even apply for their grant program. --Kim Carpenter Volunteering and Paying it Forward Since February 17 is National Random Acts of Kindness Day, we've compiled some ideas for volunteering and paying it forward throughout the year. Volunteer Match is a tool to help connect people to good causes. Simply enter your location and choose a volunteer category. Use the filters to narrow down the areas that interest you. Animals can always use lots of love. Volunteering with The Animal Humane Society is a great way to offer in-shelter support or at-home foster care. There are also ways for those under 16 years of age to get involved from community service, special projects, student volunteering and educational programs. Pay It Forward Foundation is a wonderful way to give back with random acts of kindness to people, animals and the planet. You have options of giving a donation, volunteering alone or with friends or just registering and spreading the word by sharing a link on social media. Reach Out & Read has plenty of opportunities to help from donating books, becoming a volunteer reader or even creating art that can be featured in one of the program's literacy-themed waiting rooms. You can find programs in your area by using their drop-down menu on the site. Random Acts of Kindness helps inspire creative ways to give back. Check out all the inspiring ideas for spreading kindness or even submit your own idea. There's also a link for educators which includes free K-12 lesson plans.