Random Acts of Kindness

By Michael Aaron Gallagher

It all starts with a Random Act of Kindness (RAK). You’re walking toward the door with your hands full and someone steps out to hold it open for you, or maybe the person in front of you at the drive-through anonymously pays for your coffee and donuts. They may be simple gestures, but ones that can instantly put a smile on your face and turn an average day into a brighter one.

But what would happen if people got together and set out on a mission to do random acts of kindness every day?

For one group of friends, who met at Cazenovia College, the journey has become something bigger than they ever imagined.

Random Acts of Kindness“My new year’s resolution was to complete a random act of kindness every day of the year,” said Ashley Agresta, who is now a graphic designer living in New Hampshire. “I wrote a blog that I posted on Facebook and some friends of mine decided to join.”

It wasn’t long before Jessica Johnson, Trista Bradt, Kristin Burger and Chelsea Kennedy were joining forces with her, calling themselves the Kindness Crew.

“We started a Facebook page actually just for ourselves, so we could post what we did everyday,” Johnson said. “It ended up getting almost 1,000 followers. Some are people we RAKd and some are people who are doing RAKs and share with us.”

Kristin Burger, who works for a defense contractor on Long Island, says even something as simple as a free lottery ticket can brighten someone’s day.

“Leaving lotto tickets in random places is probably my favorite ‘routine’ RAK,” Burger said. “I truly love when someone receives one of my RAKs and they post on our Facebook page about it. That really warms my heart. I once left a RAK on the bathroom sink at a NY Knicks game. I returned to the bathroom a little while later to see if it was still there and the person who received it left a thank you note written on a paper towel!”

For Jessica Johnson, who is the Manager of Alliance Development and Social Media for J Strategies, Inc. in Syracuse, the experience has been truly rewarding.

“My favorite Random Act of Kindness was one I posted to our Facebook page,” Johnson said. “My husband and I were at the grocery store and I overheard a man having a conversation with his two young daughters. They were trying to figure out if they could afford the $2 butter because they only had $10 for groceries. There were maybe four things in the cart. My heart broke as I realized I was lucky enough to not have to worry about where my next meal would come from. I knew we needed to help. My husband found me and I instantly told him what I heard. I told him we should get (the family) a gift card for groceries and he gave me his [credit] card and I rushed to the counter. I asked for a manager and asked if he could deliver the card and tell the family it was a random act of kindness and to have a happy holiday… As my husband and I were leaving the store, we saw the family buying fruits and vegetables.”

“My second most memorable RAK was at a Moe’s Southwest Grill,” Johnson said. “There were two military men behind me in line. When I got to the check-out, I told the cashier that I wanted to pay for their meals and I would leave my credit card and come back afterwards and pick it up. I left my card and sat outside to eat my lunch. The manager came out with my card and handed me $30 in gift cards and thanked me for what I did. The military men eventually came out and asked if we paid for their meal, I told them I had no idea what they were talking about (they knew I was lying!). They thanked me and told me that no one had ever done that for them…. I used the $30 to do RAKs the next time I was in the store.”

Whether it’s a small gift or raising funds for charity, the group continues to see the positive difference they are making in people’s lives.

“I want people to remember that everything we do has an effect on someone else,” said Trista Bradt, who works for the New York State Dept of Taxation and Finance. “I want people to know that there is more good in the world than bad. I want people to watch the news and only remember the story that made them smile. It’s so easy to get caught up in the negative. Just be kind. It really is contagious and it’s a bug I wish more people would catch!”

“I know that one person alone can’t change the world,” Agresta said. “But if we inspire one person who inspires one person, the effect becomes exponential and my hope is that someday I will bring children into a better, kinder world… All I can hope is to inspire people to be better to their friends, siblings and strangers.”

After all, as the singer Jewel once wrote, “In the end, only kindness matters.”

Do you have a random act of kindness you would like to share? Visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/womenofupstateny and tell us your story!