‘Tis the season. Not just the season to shop till you drop, get all glutenous over holiday treats and spend hours synchronizing your Christmas lights to Ylvis’ “The Fox,” but it is also the season of giving.
While engaging in acts of charity and kindness should be performed year-round, life often gets in the way. Our heart strings usually wait to be pulled and our wallets wait to be opened until this time of the year finally rolls around.
I, for one, always mean to be a do-gooder year-round but tend to only get caught up in the spirit of giving in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This was the time my family always reached out to others. When I was growing up, every year my mother and I would hit downtown San Francisco to do our Christmas shopping. She would fill her pockets with five dollar bills and hand them out to every panhandler we would encounter, and San Francisco has no shortage on those asking for spare change. I was always impressed by this simple and generous tradition.
I have yet to find my “thing,” my way to incorporate more giving during the season, but these 14 recent stories of generosity — from the simple, to the outrageous — are incredibly inspiring.
Check them out here:
Giving Back 1 of 15
Click through for 14 stories in the news this season of everyday people giving back in big ways.
Tips for Jesus 2 of 15
"Doing the Lord's work, one tip at a time," is the tagline of the anonymous Instagram account Tips for Jesus. The mysterious diner behind Tips for Jesus is leaving gigantic tips on their tabs, like $5000 on a bill for $576.
But before you think that this is some religious fanatic with deep pockets, there are some establishments that would not be considered places a devote person would frequent such as the strip club Jumbo's Clown Room in Los Angeles. There has been much speculation of who is behind Tips for Jesus and NBC Bay Area believes it is Ex-PayPal big wig Jack Selby.
Regardless of whether he is doing the "Lord's work" or not, it's still pretty awesome that he is doing this to appreciate the hard work those in the service industry do.
Photo Source: Instagram/TipsforJesus
Christmas Trees for All 3 of 15
Chad Rose of Lowell, Michigan ended up with an extra live Christmas tree, so he went to Craigslist and put up a listing to give away the tree to someone for free. The response was not what he expected.
Mr. Rose received more than forty emails from families in need who could not afford to buy a non-essential item like a Christmas tree, although the addition of one in their house would be a wonderful thing.
"Hello," began one e-mail. "My husband and I have 6 kids so you can imagine Christmas time is rough for us. We also have three birthdays at the end of the year. Having a real Christmas tree would be such a great blessing this year (because) usually we draw a Christmas tree on a large poster and hang it in the corner."
"You are a blessing! I was just getting ready to explain to my 6 year old daughter that Christmas is not just about a tree," another person emailed. "In actuality, not being able to afford one this year was going to be more devastating for me. If you have one available … we would love to get one. Either way, what you are doing is truly incredible and I can not express how grateful I am for the impact you are having on people in your community."
So instead of giving that one tree to just one family, he went out and bought forty more and gave them to the people who wrote in. Another person was inspired by his generosity and donated ornaments to each recipient.
Mr. Rose initially didn't want to go public with his story but as MLive.com states, his wife "convinced him it would be worth it if others were then inspired to do something nice for strangers at the holidays."
Photo Source: Lotus Head via WikiCommons
Best Dumpster-Diving Story Ever 4 of 15
On Thanksgiving weekend a homeless man in Atlanta was digging in the trash outside of the Omni Hotel when he found a wallet. Joel Hartman then took the wallet to the hotel to give back to the guest. The hotel management was so impressed with Hartman's honesty that they gave him a room for the weekend, free room service, a new wardrobe and even a make-over.
But that's not the end of the story. When the media got hold of the story, his family, who had been looking for him for years, finally found him. And Hartman — who suffered from — will also be getting the medical help he needs.
Photo Source: Wiki Commons/ Nachoman-au
Awesome Tips 5 of 15
Another story of generous tip-giving: When Seth Collins' brother Aaron Collins died last year, his will stated that his family go out to dinner and leave an "awesome tip."
The first time Seth Collins went out and left a huge gratuity the story went viral and donations started to pour in for the family to go out and leave more tips in the memory of Aaron Collins. They received about $50,000. Since then, Seth Collins has been traveling around the country and leaving a huge tip in each state.
"It's rewarding … [because] I get to make their day and hopefully inspire generosity in that person," said Collins. "Beyond that, creating this legacy for my brother and creating these pockets of people all around the world who know about him and will always remember him."
Photo Source: Wiki Commons /Marya
Paul Walker’s Ring Story 6 of 15
Recently actor Paul Walker was tragically killed in an auto accident. After his death, stories of his generosity began to emerge, and one was very touching indeed. He paid for the engagement ring for a soldier shopping for his fiance.
CNN reports that:
"The groom was just back from duty in Iraq, and he was going to be deployed again soon and wanted to buy a wedding ring, but he said he just could not afford it. I don't think the soldier realized how expensive those rings are, about $10,000. Walker called the manager over and said, 'Put that girl's ring on my tab.' Walker left all his billing info, and it was a done deal. The couple was stunned. She was thrilled and could not believe someone did this."
Photo Source: PR Photos
Supermarket Santa 7 of 15
Shortly after Thanksgiving in Houston, Texas an anonymous man went up to a cashier at a local supermarket and told them he would pay for all the groceries of the next ten customers. "He just said he wanted to it, it was an act of kindness. And that's what he wanted to do," said HEB Public Affairs Director Cyndy Garza-Roberts.
"When one of the ladies started crying, I got a little teary eyed. I thought, 'Oh my God, this is real. He's really doing this.' It was so nice," said Destinie Rogers, an employee at the store.
Photo Source: Wiki Commons/Velela
WestJet Plays Santa 8 of 15
WestJet turned their generosity into a viral marketing sensation. The Calgary-based airline had a screen set up with a live Santa asking passengers what they wanted for Christmas. The airline took note of each request and as the travelers headed to their flights the airline's employees got busy buying the items they asked for from socks to TVs. When the passengers got to their destination their luggage didn't immediately appear at baggage claim rather presents containing the items they wanted.
You can check out the amazing video of their early Christmas right here.
Photo Source: Westjet/YouTube
Walmart Santa 9 of 15
Greg Parady of central Florida was recently at his local Walmart buying bicycles for Toys for Tots when he was struck with the calling to help out those who were having a hard time affording the holiday.
"He had heard a lady out in one of the aisles talking about how she needed to pay off her layaway, but she didn't think she was going to be able to take care of all of it this year," Cindy Nazzaro, Parady's business partner who was with him, told WKMG-TV. "I came back here and I saw him standing here with his credit card, and he was just swiping and swiping."
Mr. Pardy paid off about a half dozen layaway accounts and then went on to pay for half of all layover accounts that were more than $200. The total? About $20,000.
"I've known him for years and he just does things because he feels like doing them," Nazzaro told WPTV. "It brought us all to tears ... and made me realize we work in an awesome community. This is Greg's way of giving back to the community, paying them back for how gracious they've been to us."
Photo Source: Wiki Commons/ Ildar Sagdejev
Gold in the Kettle 10 of 15
For the last five years, an anonymous donor has dropped a gold coin into a Salvation Army red kettle in Kokomo, Indiana. The South African Krugerrand coin was sold for $1,220, which was a big boost for this Salvation Army outpost, who has been struggling this holiday season, they are about $50,000 short of their $82,500 fundraising goal.
Photo Source: eBay - Available here
Favors for All 11 of 15
Ask.io is a website created to enlist strangers who visit the site to engage in small simple acts of kindness. Each week the site posts a different "favor" from sending birthday cards to an ill woman to donating money to a Dogs in Harmony and organization which cares for ailing canines.
"My goal with this website is simply to do small things for those who are in need of a personal favor," writes creator, Mike Carson.
You can check out this week's favor right here.
20 Acts of Kindness 12 of 15
This school project will — no doubt — have a life-long impact on the students participating. Eighth graders at Morgan Middle School in Ellensburg, Washington participated in "20 Acts of Kindness Week" where students had "an opportunity for students to complete 20 random acts of kindness for their family, friends, neighbors, strangers, school or community."
Some of the simple acts included:
"Jonathan Garcia, 14, cooked dinner for his family. Elora Irby, 13, helped her friends with their problems. Kelsey Powell, 13, played cello for residents of Hearthstone Cottage in Ellensburg. Dammon Wright, 14, picked up trash at school and "donated $20 to the Salvation Army instead of spending it on myself," he said. Taylor Kotlarz, 14, plans to secretly pay for someone's meal at a restaurant."
"I think part of our job as school people is to get the kids into the community," Kenneth Hails, the school counselor said. "Then also they can learn by being nice to somebody else."
The 20 Acts movement started last year with Ann Curry about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. And it is such a great tribute that the 20 Acts are still happening. Let's hope they continue and more kids (and adults) will be inspired to act.
A Birthday Thanks 13 of 15
To celebrate her 22nd birthday Vaneesha Patel of Temple Terrace, Florida opted to give rather than to receive.
"I've never really had much to ask for for my birthday or anything like that because I have what I need. I'm healthy, I have a family, I have clothing, food. And after volunteering different places, I realized I'm a lot more blessed than other people are," said Patel.
So to celebrate her big day, she decided to perform 22 acts of kindness for each of her years. According to ABC Action News she, "left a stack of coins at a vending machine, visited a pediatric hospital and made sandwiches for the needy."
"It's just a really blessing feeling to know that a small gesture, even just a smiley-face note or leaving some change on a coin machine, can really make somebody's day. You don't know what people have been through. You don't know what their day's like that day. And honestly, the smallest thing can make a world of difference," Patel explained.
Photo Source: Wiki Commons/ Ralf Roletschek
The Secret Santa with Lots of $100s 14 of 15
A wealthy businessman from Kansas City has a very generous holiday tradition and takes on the role of Secret Santa.
Each year, before the holidays, he wears red and goes to shelters, thrift stores and food pantries and hands out crisp new $100 bills to total strangers, giving out more than $100,000 each year. This year his generosity led him to Albany, Ga. "These are brand new $100 bills. And this is to make your Christmas just a little bit brighter," the "Secret Santa" told shoppers he encountered.
"My hope is that by doing this, millions of people see it and millions of people act on it. You don't have to have any money. It can be a kind word, a good deed — anybody can be a Secret Santa," he said.
Photo Source: Revisorweb/Wiki Commons
The Tip Jar Thief 15 of 15
A man walked into the Nervous Dog Coffee Bar in Stow, Ohio and allegedly stole money from the employees tip jar by the register. But instead of reporting the theft to the police, the cafe owner Michael Litt decided to to what they could to help the man.
"We figured anyone desperate enough to steal a few bucks from a kid working her way through college is likely pretty hungry," Litt said on Facebook. "We thought we would initiate a canned food drive for him; we'll begin with a can or two from each employee, and make a box available in each of our shops for your kind contributions."
The cafe has video of the theft and have been trying to locate the man so they can give him the donations they have collected on his behalf, if he does not come forward, the donations will be given to a local food bank.
"We are trying to show awareness that people are going through hard times," Litt said.
Photo Source: Nervous Dog Coffee Bar/Facebook