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small deeds

The other day I was walking to the grocery store when a woman ran up to me, tapped my shoulder and said, “you dropped this.”  She handed me my ATM card.  I got out a whispered wide-mouthed, “thank you,” but my desire to express my profuse gratitude didn’t make it before she vanished.  My mind started to swirl!

I felt an instant need to return the favor.

She just saved me God knows how much aggravation.

The world has way more good people than nefarious ones.

I really must return the favor, but what can I do?

I’m trying to think up a big idea, but in the meantime, I want to do 12 small spontaneous deeds for strangers throughout the holiday season. The 12 days of Christmas, for me, will mean little gestures that might, in some minute way, brighten a moment in someone’s ordinary day.

Maybe this is already part of your routine.  Maybe you want to join me.  Either way, tell me (via the comment section) about your daily bright spots.

Day 12 – Guess what?!  I know Santa Claus!  The real-deal, North-Pole-living, sleigh-riding jolly old man himself!!  And for my final small deed I asked him for help!  I took the money hubby and I usually spend on holiday cards for family and friends and we gave it away to strangers.  We had seven holiday cards, each with some cash inside and a message to have a happy holiday.  Hubby armed himself with the camera, I had a bag of candy canes and Santa, the master at deliveries, had the envelopes.  We hit South Bay Center one morning and surprised a parking lot of people.  It was amazing to watch how young and old came running to see Mr. Claus.  Cars, full of adults, drove around the parking lot, children dragged parents out of stores, and everyone beamed at having their pictures taken with Santa!  Ok, there were some children who hollered for Santa but when he stopped by, they started crying.  But that was kind of cute too!  They like Santa from a distance!  This young couple told us it was their daughter’s first Christmas and they waited 45 minutes the other day for a picture with Santa at a mall only to have him go on break.  They never got a picture, that is until Parking Lot Santa showed up!  We hope the cash was a nice surprise for some strangers, but it was all worth it to see the pure joy on so many faces at the mere sight of Old Saint Nick!

Day 11 – I went to get a cup of coffee and the woman behind the counter was super sweet.  I left her a big tip.  I hope it brightened her day just a bit!

*(Mike told me about his small deed in the comment section.  He gave his monthly Charlie Card to the woman about to put money on her card! I love that idea!  Yeah, Mike!!)

Day 10 – On my way to the store, I saw some litter so I put it in the trash.  I arrived to the store and before me, a few more pieces of paper were blowing in the wind.  It was so easy to put them in the garbage.  A man saw me doing my small deed and said, “thank you.”  I was grateful for his appreciation.

Day 9 – I took Cricket for a walk this morning and picked up some arrant piles of poop (a suggestion from my friend Jen!).  I hope Cricket and I saved your shoes from a stinky day!

*(Erinn shared in the comment section that she likes to brush snow off of neighboring cars!  I hope we all get a chance to park next to an Erinn!)

Day 8 – While at Dunkin Donuts to get a cup of coffee, I saw a stand full of gift cards.  I added several to my order.  When I went running, I took a different route and gave Dunkin Donuts gift cards to some folks who looked like they could use a hot cup of coffee.  It was great!

*(Marsha from NC left a note in the comment section.  She bought a meal for a stranger.  She was paying it forward!  How awesome is that?!  Thanks Marsha!!!)

Day 7 – I have a couple pairs of gently worn mittens.  I put them in my work bag and on my way to and from work, I placed them in areas where I’ve seen homeless women.  I hope the gloves will help just a bit this winter.

Day 6 – I ran into Walgreens to pick up some stuff and saw a Toys for Tots bin.  So in my basket with some water and face cream, I added a couple of toys.  I put them in the box with the rest of the collection and smiled as I exited the store.

*(Very excited!!!  My friend Anita sent me this awesome tweet:

Anita Moller@aamoller: @susantran It’s contagious! I was inspired to do a good deed today.
@aamoller: @susantran Yep. While on my run, I stopped to carry the newspaper to a cute little man so he didn’t have to walk down the icy drive to get it.)

Day 5 – On my run today, I had a pocket full of scratch-off lottery tickets, and as I jogged around town, I handed them to strangers.  It was much more fun and far more comical than I’d imagined it would be!  Every one appeared taken aback, confused, or shocked.  I smiled, said, “Happy Holidays,” and ran off (I should have worn my elf hat!).  As my strides moved me forward, I could hear them yell, “Thank You!”  Those two words powered me for the rest of my trek home.

Day 4 – I went to get a soda and a snack at some vending machines and I left the change.

photo by: tomlin

*(I applied to Caring Canines but got an email response saying its program is at full capacity.  Sad for me but awesome for the program!)

Day 3 – I noticed some union brothers in the cold this morning.  I stopped by a Dunkin Donuts and bought them some hot coffee.  It was their appreciation that warmed me.

*(It’s only day 3 and I’m finding it somewhat difficult to do a small good deed, which is kind of upsetting.  Please consider giving me some suggestions.  I’m looking for small gestures.  Thanks in advance!)

Day 2 – I walked to lunch with a pocket full of quarters.  I fed several expired meters.  I hope I kept you from a ticket.

Day 1 – I’m running along the Christian Science Center and I notice a family of four.  Mom is trying to get her two sons and husband in the perfect picture.  I stop and ask if I can help take a family photo for them.  They hand me their Canon, smile, and I capture their broad grins in front of The Original Mother Church.  I make sure they’re satisfied with my work and run off.  They put a smile on my face and my stride home had a new elasticity.

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20 Responses to “small deeds”

  1. Jules says:

    oh i love this idea. my brain is working…

  2. Larry says:

    This is a great idea. I’ll think of some things I can do and tweet you the results.

  3. cara says:

    Hi Susan- my sister just took part in Christmas in the City in Boston. She bought Christmas gifts for two sisters, they wanted barbies so you know they were cool!

    help an elderly person by loading their groceries in their car and return their shopping cart for them.

    now is a great time to volunteer at a soup kitchen.

    you could buy coffee for the person behind you in line.

    send a care package to a soldier overseas.

    my mom writes me a hand-written letter every week and i love it! you could send one to someone just because.

    and cook your hubby his favorite meal!

    • suetran says:

      Cara!!! Thank you so much! Those are awesome ideas!!!! The only one that would be detrimental to all involved is cooking for Hubby! Ha!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!

  4. Sharon says:

    I like to pay the toll for someone behind me – such a nice surprise!

    A few weeks ago someone was looking incredibly stressed and hurried in the grocery store, so I let her go ahead of me in line, and held her stop when she realized she forgot something. I thought she was going to melt – it seems the grocery store can be a gold mine for good deeds!

    • suetran says:

      sharon, you totally rocked the spontaneous small good deed. you probably made her day! thanks for the idea! the grocery store… gold mine… good deeds. i love it! thanks again!

  5. suetran says:

    Other Good Deed Ideas:

    Gwen: My good deed for this holiday season is letting people go ahead of me…everywhere. Elevators, doorways, buses etc. Its real hard but it makes me feel virtuous.

    Jen:
    -Pay for the person behind you in line at the coffee shop.
    -Donate books to Rosie’s Place.
    -Scoop errant poop when walking Cricket (gross, but appreciated)
    -If someone compliments your nailpolish, lipstick, etc..buy them one of their own.

    Steve: leave a huge tip somewhere.

    Art:
    - Take Cricket to visit an elderly person: http://www.caringcanines.org/
    - Hand out chemical hand warmers to people standing at a bus stop
    - Give a box of chocolates to the security person at your office building

    Adria: The girls and I used to do “Good Deed” days once a month. Need to start that up again! It had to be for a stranger(s). Some things we used to do:
    - Deliver cookies to neighbors (we didn’t know)
    - Drop off flowers to nursing home
    - Put quarters in a random meter
    - Feed the ducks in a local pond (only did this when I was in a hurry and needed to do it quickly- ducks count don’t they?)

  6. Marsha says:

    Greetings from your former state…NC!

    My idea is to buy an elderly person/couple’s meal that you might happen to cross paths with at a restaurant. Someone did this for my mother last year at Christmas.

    About two weeks ago, my family and I were at a local K&W. I spotted an elderly woman having a meal by herself. I asked my waitress to please go over and get this woman’s bill and bring it back to me so that I could pay it for her. She did and as we stood up to leave this lady got up and walked over to me with a questionable look on her face. “Do I know you?”, she asked? I said “No, we’ve never met” She said “Why do you want to buy my dinner?” I said “We just wanted to say Merry Christmas to you!” She said “I just don’t know what to say! Why did you want to do this for me?” I explained that someone had done the same for my mother last year and I was just passing it along. She smiled and said “Well, I will do the same for someone else.” So, pass it along in Boston!

    Merry Christmas!!

  7. Erinn says:

    Such a great idea! Gives me the warm fuzzies just reading this.

    I like to brush the snow off of cars parked near me… especially when it’s this brisk outside. Who doesn’t like to be surprised with a clean car after a long snowy day?

    • suetran says:

      erinn!!! i love that idea, it’s so simple and so appreciated! i hope to park next to someone like you and i’ll be sure to clear off a neighboring car when the snow starts in earnest here in boston!

  8. Penni says:

    You’ve inspired me to pass out lottery tickets uptown on Christmas Eve while walking to church. I know, church and lottery tickets probably don’t really go together but whatever!

  9. mike says:

    my last day of class was yesterday so on my way home, when i was exiting the train station, i gave my monthly pass to some lady waiting in line to add money to her charlie card

  10. Scott Tran says:

    hi, cousin….

    Those are some great ideas for small deeds. But in some cases not everyone here in the west coast appreciates that kind of hospitality. Everyone seem so stressed and up tight. Anyways, keep up the good work!!

    here are some ideas:

    -I helped an old lady change out her flat tire in the rain.
    -gave a ride to someone that missed there bus.
    -offered snacks to those that look hungry.
    -offered beverages to those that are dehydrated.
    -gave change to those are short in change.
    -walked with an old man across the street and stopped oncoming traffic.
    -helped out this couple get there stalled car out of the intersection.
    -waited for the person behind me and held the door open.

    and as for me I am that personal kind of person. I have always gave a helping hand or open arms to those that simply need a good hug or open ears to those that need to vent. welp…my ideas are exhausted right now. So, I’ll drop you a line later on if anything comes to mind. lol

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