User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

Living a Life of Kindness: #26acts

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Tens of thousands of people answered Anne Curry’s call and thus began the 26 Acts of Kindness campaign to honor the 20 children and six teachers lost in the shooting at Sandy Hook, according to NBC.  A Facebook page has been set up to promote the 26 Acts of Kindness campaign. It already has almost 83,000 “likes.”

Here is an example of the 22 acts of kindness a 22 year old did to celebrate his birthday, not part of this project but a great example how one person took the initiative to do some of his own acts of kindness.

If I was still a classroom teacher, I would have my students do this as a year long project and record their acts of kindness via a photo essay or video.  I believe that this era of education should include learning about social good and global stewardship.  Students should be encouraged to be change makers in the world. This is why this post is included in my series on user-generated education.

Some teachers have started acts of kindness campaigns with their students:

What follows are my #21 acts for Holiday, 2012 (five more are forthcoming).  I try to live a life of acts of kindness, trying to give charity to others all year long through my actions (e.g., helping a senior citizen) or making contributions during catastrophes.  During Christmas time, I make my big contributions and try to do some volunteer work – helping deliver meals to homebound, packing Christmas treats at the Salvation Army, etc.  I never tell anyone about my acts as they are personal and I do not do so to get any pats on the back from anyone else.  I am sharing this year’s acts due to the #26acts movement, and to inspire, motivate, and challenge others to do so.

#1 – Lifted Spirits at the Post Office

I was in the post office to mail some Xmas presents. As expected, the line was extremely long. We took our numbered tickets upon entering the PO and found our places for the inevitable waiting. I have very little patience for lines and based on the reactions, attitudes, and comments so did the other people waiting. I took a deep breadth and dove into my iPhone. An older lady (she looked about 80) a few people away from me kind of joked about being #67 as they had just called out #17. I realized I had picked up a lower number #33 from the counter leaving me with both #33 and #41. I handed her #41 saying it is a good time to engage in acts of kindness. She yelped with joy and asked me for a hug. A man then stated loudly that he forgot to get a ticket. The older lady handed him her #67. We had started a game of pass it forward. A majority of the 30+ folks in the Post Office started laughing and commenting – a potentially miserable time at the PO became joyful and fun. I left the PO smiling – the first smiles I had since hearing about Sandy Hook. A very small act of kindness changed the entire climate of a “grouchy” situation into one that touched my heart.

#2 – Gave Homeless Man My Lunch

I went grocery shopping. In the roasted chicken section was a roasted turkey breast. I bought it for my lunch today – nothing like hot roasted turkey. It cost $9. At the stop sign off of the highway, on the drive home, was a homeless man (I assume) with a cardboard sign that said, “Anything would help.” He was an older man with very long grey hair and beard. I stopped to consider giving him a few dollars. I asked him if he smoked. I don’t give the guys with signs money for fear that they would spend it on cigarettes. He said he did and I told him that I didn’t want to give him money for cigarettes. With very said eyes, he asked, “Do you have anything to eat?” I grabbed the roasted turkey and handed it to him. He stared in disbelief and could only say “Oh my goodness” a few times. I yelled Merry Christmas and drove off.

#3 – Bought an iTunes Gift Card and Made a List of Recommended Apps for My Brother with Asperger’s.  He is getting an iPad for Christmas.

#4 – Donated to John Green’s (Fault of Our Stars) amazing Youtube fundraiser, Project Awesome 2012

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#5 – Promoted Sandy Hook Snowflake Project on my social networks.

#6 – Donated $26 dollars to the Sandy Hook PTA for their Snowflake Project.

#7 – Donated to Beyond Borders because we should not forget about Haiti,  Beyond Borders is an international nonprofit working to end child slavery, guarantee universal access to education, end violence against women and girls and promote dignified and life sustaining work that recognizes and reinforce Haiti’s strengths.

#8 – Bought Merchandise to Support and “Advertise” Pencils of Promise

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#9 – Bought a MiiR Water Bottle – $1 of every MiiR bottle purchased provides one person with clean water for one year, one4one.

#10 & #11 – Donated a Year of School for Two Girls through International Rescue

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#12 – Donated a New Classroom through International Rescue

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#13 – Donated a Pair of Goats through International Rescue

#14 – Donated  A Women’s Health and Wellness Kit through International Rescue

#15, #16, #17, #18 – Contributed to four classroom projects through Donors Choose for classrooms affected by Hurricane Sandy

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#19 – Provided Kiva loan to the agriculture Mahinga Group in Kenya as I believe we are all global stewards.

#20 – As I do every year, I donated a substantial amount of $$ to Save the Children.

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#21 – Planned a Surprise Birthday Cake-Card for Fellow Potter Who Turned 70.  During our holiday pottery show, I gave Mimi, who was turning 70, a chocolate cake and a card signed by the group members.  Her son and grandchildren came to the show so I gave it to her when they were there.  She told me that it had been years and years since she had a birthday cake.

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#22 – Paid $20 of a Senior Citizen’s Grocery Bill.  She was really grateful and asked me for a little kiss.

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These are my acts for the 20 children and for Sandy Hook Principal, Dawn Hochsprung, and teacher, Vicki Soto.  The other four acts will occur when an act of kindness is needed and I can provide such an act.

I do not live a life of trying to give acts of kindness as a ticket to get into an afterlife.  I live it because it feels good.  It is the right thing to do.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

December 26, 2012 at 1:02 am

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