By Angela Pinkstaff, director of business development, for our Random Acts of Kindness blog series

Last December, as part of HRG’s Random Acts of Kindness campaign, I was given $30.00 to do with as I chose, so long as it benefited someone outside our company walls. But what could a little money really do for someone else?

Turns out, for many, and it required almost nothing. With my 30 one dollar bills, I bought a dozen doughnuts for the neighborhood fire house. I donated to a non-profit that helps children gain 21st century skills in the fields of STEM. I bought a drink for a retired Marine who had served in active duty. Seeing a woman on her lunch break, I gave enough money to the deli cashier to pay for her meal. I filled a token machine with dollars so that kids would have free games to play. And with my final dollar, I placed it inside a brand new copy of The Giving Tree and left it with a personalized note in a free book drop box.RAOK--STEM_logo2-300x159

We forget that it doesn’t take much to make someone happy; it certainly doesn’t take money. The $30.00 I had to spend became inconsequential as the momentum grew to find ways to touch someone with a small and unexpected gift. And, in giving, I saw not the gift itself, but the happiness it gave. In being kind, I saw kindness in action around me. I saw the same firefighters who received my bakery delivery that morning racing to someone’s aid not an hour later. I witnessed children’s faces light up when they discovered unclaimed game tokens to share with friends. I was the proud recipient of true gratitude when the woman who had a free lunch chased me down to thank me. I got to see the smile of a stranger who served our country for decades,  and I felt joy when I drove past the book drop-off box to see that my last donation was already in someone else’s hands.

But why be nice? Why bother, all gooey holiday schmaltz aside? Because kindness is a choice that I fear we don’t make nearly often enough. I believe that kindness improved those lives, and that they went on that day to be happy and to show somebody else a moment of kindness. It filled them with hope, even briefly, as it did for me. And giving someone hope is a wealth that’s also completely free.

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