One thing about the Sandy Hook tragedy; it made us all feel powerless.
Across the nation, many of us were struck with an urge to act and to do something in honor of the 26 victims of the senseless mass shooting that occurred in Newtown, CT. Now, around the 3-year anniversary of the horrific event, that urge to do good — and the stark, powerful memory of the tragedy — has not diminished.
When Sandy Hook happened some of us marched on the capital to encourage a change to the current gun laws while others fought for more resources for the mentally ill; hundreds were sending flowers to the funerals of the children and educators gunned down in the tragedy, many were donating money to the people of Newtown … and still others sat frozen with their grief and felt bewildered by what they could possibly to do to help honor those so tragically lost.
Ann Curry of NBC News had a suggestion, one that is easy, simple and a wonderful way to offset the evil that this tragedy bestowed upon a undeserving community.
Curry wrote: “Newtown’s heartbreak has a lot of us asking, “What can I do?” Thinking about this, I took to Twitter and asked people to imagine what would happen if all of us committed to 20 acts of kindness to honor each child lost in Newtown. I added, “I’m in. If you are, RT #20Acts.” Some took her message and changed it to #26ActsofKindness in order to also honor the others killed at Sandy Hook. Now, three years later and once again in the season of love and giving, perhaps it’s time to rehash this hashtag.
When the hashtag began, I loved the idea of doing something immediate to pay honor to those who lost their lives beyond the political or by simply lighting a candle or sending some flowers. Creating a positive moment and a random act of kindness to make the world a better place, all in memory of those who lost their lives. And what better way to honor their memory than to show that it hasn’t faded one bit?
Here are 20 acts you can do — which will you try?
Volunteer! There are so many places that could use people to come in and help, from a local shelter to your nearby SPCA.
2. Send Cards to the Troops
You may send Christmas cards to friends and family, but why not widen your holiday joy? Send cards and treats to the troops overseas, they can always use a bit of cheer.
Something as simple as smiling at strangers and giving a friendly nod can bring brightness to the moment.
4. Strike up a Conversation
A simple act of kindness to pass on to our kids: ask them to say hello or talk to someone in their class that they usually don’t.
Make cookies and deliver them to patients at a local hospital (if they’re allowed to have them) or to your local senior center.
6. Bring Coffee to a Salvation Army Bell Ringer
Those Salvation Army bell ringers always look so chilly, warm them up by bringing them a hot cocoa or a cup of coffee.
7. Give a Mom a Break
One Twitter responder said that one of her #20Acts was that she “picked up a friend’s baby today to let her get some sleep after a rough night.”
8. Give Food
Your local food bank is always looking for donations and now is a great time to give the gift of food to those in need!
9. Give Toys
Another thing you can give is toys to an organization like Toys For Tots or to your local homeless shelter.
10. Pay a Stranger’s Toll
Pay for the toll for the person behind you — it would be such a pleasant surprise.
11. Help the Homeless
If you have people who are homeless living on the streets in your community, give them a sandwich, a meal, or a warm coat.
12. Write a Letter
Write a letter to someone that you’d like to give good thoughts to. One choice is to give a thank you note to your children’s teachers.
13. Pay off Someone’s Layaway
Go into your local superstore and pay off a stranger’s layaway. It will be a wonderful, heartwarming Christmas surprise.
14. Give a Loan
Give a loan via a organization like Kiva, giving the gift of empowerment to people around the globe.
Give money to a charity (and there are so many to choose from) in the name of the victims of Newtown.
16. Pay for a Child’s School
One generous #26Acts Twitter responder wrote, “Just paid the school fees for 26 children with AIDS in Mombasa, Kenya.” There are several organizations you can go to help, one of which is World Vision.
17. Buy Coffee for Someone
If you are at your local cafe, buy a coffee for the stranger behind you (or if you can afford it, the next couple people as well.)
18. Meals for Seniors
Bring a meal to a senior living alone, be it a neighbor or someone in your community that could use a home-cooked meal.
19. An Extra Tip
Give more when you tip, be it to your waitress, delivery man or the person who makes your coffee at Starbucks.
20. Spread the Word
Spread the word! Let everyone know you are participating in the movement and perhaps you’ll inspire more to perform acts of kindness!