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Random Acts of Kindness Day

By Chole Smith
"People will forget what you said.  People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

kindness defined as a noun - the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
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One morning I was sitting quietly at a booth at a local restaurant eating a yogurt and studying for one of my classes (per usual). An older gentleman, a stranger at the time, walks by my table, sits a banana down by my breakfast and says, “Here you go. It is so much better with a banana.” The gentleman proceeded to the booth he sits in every Tuesday and Thursday morning with his newspaper and puzzle. The feeling I experienced was pure joy and gratitude. Needless to say, this random act of kindness made my day and inspired me to pay it forward. 

Have you ever experienced an instance like this? Do you remember how it made you feel? Did you know there is a whole day dedicated to random acts of kindness just like the one described above?

Calendar page reading Random Acts of Kindness Day February 17.
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The first Random Acts of Kindness Day was held in 1995. Twenty-five years later, the celebration continues. This day encourages people to spread acts of kindness, big and small, across the world.  This year, Random Acts of Kindness Day is on February 17th.  Will you join in on the fun?

Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness

Random Acts of Kindness day reminds us that the smallest acts of kindness can have the biggest impacts on our life. Random acts of kindness come in all sizes. Whether it be holding the door open for someone carrying a large load or bringing your coworkers' favorite snack to them on a chaotic Monday, acts of kindness of all sorts make a true difference in the world.

Little girl feeding a dalmatian an ice cream cone One track runner helping another down the track Keep calm and smile it's free on a forest background Cartoon man opening a door for another cartoon man

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Are you looking for some ideas for this year's upcoming Random Acts of Kindness Day? Here's some ideas:

  • Smile at people while walking through crowds.
  • Make dinner for a busy or sick friend.
  • Give a child a balloon or treat.
  • Make a card (or two) for children fighting serious illnesses across the country. Send the card to Cards for Hospitalized Kids. This organization sends the cards to children in U.S. hospitals. 
  • Write a sticky note to your coworker that reminds them how great they are at their job.
  • Deliver homemade treats to your neighbors.
  • Visit people in a nursing home.
  • Go through your clothes and find something warm to giveaway to someone who may need it. 
  • Give a compliment to a stranger in passing.
  • Write a letter of encouragement to a friend who has been facing struggles.
  • Send a “thinking of you” card to an old friend or co-worker.
  • Shovel snow from your neighbor’s side walk.
  • Leave a kind note to a particularly good server.
  • Ask a senior about their past.
  • After a wedding or a party, donate the flowers to a nursing home.
  • Volunteer your time. Check out WVU’s very own iServe page to find an organization that represents your passion.  

Gandhi said, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” By completing small acts of kindness, you are putting love, compassion, generosity, and genuine happiness into the world. No matter how big or small your act of kindness is, you are doing something important. As Mother Teresa puts it, "We cannot do great things on this earth, only small things with great love.”

Why Participate in Random Acts of Kindness Day

Science says it helps improve not only the mood of the receiver, but also the giver too. Random acts of kindness can be linked to the release of dopamine (a chemical messenger in the brain that is known as the “feel-good” chemical), and oxytocin (also known as the “love hormone”). In addition, some studies show an increase in serotonin (a neurotransmitter that is known for assisting in regulating mood) levels when committing a random act of kindness. With all this in mind, some research is leading to “kindness” as a treatment option for pain, depression, and anxiety.

On Campus Help for Mental Health

Speaking of depression, anxiety, and all things mental health, don’t forget about the Carruth Center services. The Carruth Center offers individual counseling, process and psychoeducational groups, and psychiatry. Call the listed phone number below to make an appointment. A counselor is available to speak to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 304-293-4431 if you are experiencing a psychological crisis. You can also use the Crisis Text Line by texting WVU to 741741 which is available 24/7 for free, confidential help.

Related Articles

Random Acts of Kindness Stories

Kindness Ideas  

The Importance of Kindness

What Type of Kindness Will Make You Happiest  

Chloe Smith

Chloe is a first-year student in the Master of Social Work program at West Virginia University.  She is  an advanced supervised trainee at the Carruth Center, where she provides individual counseling services to students. Chloe received her Bachelor of Social Work at West Virginia University as well. Outside of Carruth, she works with grieving children and their families at a local grief center.

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