When you think of the holidays, what is the first thing that usually comes to mind?
For us at Indi-ED, it is random acts of kindness. However, those also happen throughout the year. We just use the holidays to springboard them even further.
Over these few weeks, Indi-ED has been spreading kindness and joy all over St. Pete and the country.
Our kids have been performing random acts of kindness for each other, friends in our community, Indi-ED family members, hurricane and fire victims, and even strangers.
At the end of last week, we decided to add a Random Acts of Kindness lunch to our holiday festivities. It was a chance for us to connect before our holiday break, but more importantly, it was a chance for us to spread joy.
Inspired by the book, “The Christmas Jars,” we decided to get even more creative with our acts of kindness. We all pitched in and donated our spare change throughout the week into our Indi-ED Christmas Jar and then we were going to buy people’s lunches without them knowing.
In the book families put into the jar for an entire year and then gift the jar to someone. Since we just introduced it, our teachers pitched in the majority this year but the kids already want to continue. Another way that we can take advantage of our flexible schedule and show the kids that every little bit matters.
We went to two different local restaurants and watched the kids make it their own.
We watched one group add as much to our jar as we were giving away. We watched one student receive kisses on the cheek by someone who had been a recipient of one act. They pushed past initial fears of striking up conversations to share cards for the chefs in a restaurant to eventually literally being given a round of applause as they left the restaurant to passing that joy and happiness on on our return to school. It didn’t matter that we didn’t do it like the book or that the amounts were small. What mattered is that they found the joy in giving.
Kindness comes naturally to all kids, but being able to provide memorable experiences of what that looks like and feels like solidifies the idea that it doesn’t have to be a holiday season for it to happen.
Each year we add on another “little something”. Two years ago it was random acts of kindness and our 6′ Buddy the Elf. Last year it was caroling to elderly and a Secret Santa Gift Exchange. Each year as the holidays approach the kids ask in anticipatory excitement, “Are we going to do ___ again?!” As we add the Christmas Jars this year, we know they’ll be asking to do it again next year.
As you read one of our student’s reflections below, you’ll see that they understood the relevance and larger implications of being kind.
“It was an incredible experience seeing how much one small act of kindness can mean to someone.
The two elderly women were so happy to know that children of the next generation saw the value and wisdom elders have.
It was an opportunity to grow closer to our community.
After watching the news and seeing the commercialism of the holidays advertised in the media, it was great to take a step back and put things in perspective. One think I also noticed that kindness can do to people is to inspire them to pay it forward. One kind man decided to return the favor by buying us treats, which were then given to Reggie (our friendly doorman at a nearby hotel) to continue the kindness.
Finally and most importantly, I felt better than I ever have receiving a gift. It felt amazing knowing that I have the power to make a difference.
Go out there and do something kind, for you never know what you might discover.
An act done out of kindness and love has the power to make a difference no matter how small.”