Random acts of kindness: Inspiring the next generation of cheerful givers

March 31, 2017By Acts of Kindness, Behind the Shelf Blog, Random Acts of Kindness blog series

by Jen Johnston, senior marketing services account manager, for our Random Acts of Kindness blog series

In 2015, I missed the email about HRG’s Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK) challenge and felt sad that I hadn’t had a chance to participate. So, when our president reached out again in 2016, I didn’t hesitate to sign up.

I feel a strong desire to be kind to others through giving, and I want to instill that same willingness to cheerfully give in my three- and five-year old sons. So, the very first thing I did with some of the RAOK money was teach my boys about the mission of the Salvation Army and why they ring the bell. Despite their young ages, I could see them light up with happiness when they put the money in the red kettle knowing it would be used to help people. After that every time they saw a red kettle, you know what they wanted to do!

On another occasion, one of my sons and I were at a department store near the checkout counter where a display of $5 stuffed monkeys were displayed. Like any small child in front of a display of toys, he told me he wanted one to which I quietly reminded him that while they werestuffed monkey cute, we had a basket of stuffed animals at home. Next, I got down to his level, looked into his eyes, and gently asked him, “Did you know there are some children that don’t even have one stuffed animal?” His wide eyes indicated he could not conceive of such a thing. I then gave him $5 and said “Let’s tuck this $5 under the monkey’s arm to surprise the next person. Maybe it will even be one of those children.” We didn’t stay to see the result, but I could see the seeds of giving taking root in my son.

I was also hoping to give a sizable portion of the money directly to someone in need. An opportunity quickly presented itself on a local “buy, trade, sell” group on Facebook. A young woman reached out and indicated she had just lost her job and was looking for resources to obtain toys for her 11-year-old son for Christmas. I checked out her profile and saw she was a legitimate person in need. Some people in the group responded that they had toys to share. I asked if she was comfortable sharing her address so I could send her some money given to me by my company to help others. This woman was so touched by the outpouring of kindness from myself and others in the group, she said she was now inspired to instill the desire to give to others in her own son.

The RAOK challenge did more than affect those who benefited from the money. From just $35, the RAOK challenge inspired three future givers – my own two boys and the son of the woman who lost her job right before Christmas. In this way the RAOK challenge will live on in their young hearts far after its completion.