World Kindness Week is 8-13 November, and we hope we can inspire you to do good things where you live because YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Every good deed you do helps create positive energy that impacts someone’s emotional wellbeing for the better. And the best thing about giving is that can have a profound effect on you too!
There’s no getting around it – 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone. No matter who you are, how old you are, or where you’re from, you will have been impacted by COVID-19 in some way. But with all the uncertainty, frustration, sadness, and loss, we’ve seen many acts of kindness and compassion to lift our spirits. These happy moments have helped bring people together to love and support one another and given us hope, proving that we are not doing this alone.
Practising kindness has an impressive array of benefits that make this feel-good character trait a must in everyone’s life, especially now. With World Kindness Week just around the corner, we have an opportunity to reach out to others who need to feel connected and supported, and also encourage those people to “pay it forward” to others.
Teachers can use kindness lesson plans, bulletin boards, and checklists teach their students the important character traits that help to improve social, emotional, and mental wellbeing, and to reduce bullying.
1. Thank frontline workers
I’m based in Melbourne and we have been hit hard by restrictions that have kept us housebound for many months. It meant we had to all but shut down our outreach program, Nourish Network, and our members lost that important physical contact they had with our volunteers and one another. All we could do was provide food parcels that were collected as they drove through the car park.
Many of our members expressed that they felt helpless and wanted to do something that gave them a purpose. I thought about a craft activity we had started before we were shut down and repurposed it into a kindness project to thank frontline workers.
We sourced supplies to create hundreds of kits for people to make felt hearts that they decorated and we distributed to frontline workers. We created a Facebook group and invited others in the community to join us. To date, we have given 631 gifts and cards to express our gratitude to doctors, nurses, police, firefighters, aged care workers, medical receptionists, and many more.
This is something you could easily do with your kids or the elderly in your household. You can take a look at our group to get ideas and even download our heart templates, watch videos, and print our gift cards.
2. Make facemasks
Facemasks have become the norm in many parts of the world. They are now often a standard item on people’s shopping lists which adds to their household expenses. If you’re even just a little handy with a needle and thread, why not have a go at making some you can gift to others? There are some gorgeous fabrics and wonderful, bright and fun designs. You could even make kindness inspire masks with smiley faces on them!
Here are a few links with information for making them.
3. Pay it forward with coffee
Back in 2014, a woman drove into a Starbucks drive-thru at St. Petersburg, United States at 7 a.m. When she paid for her own iced coffee, she also asked to pay for a caramel macchiato for the driver behind her. That grateful drive then did the same for the next customer. The cashiers kept a tally, asking each person if they would like to keep the chain going. The number of people who paid it forward that day was 378. That’s 378 people who had their day brightened by one selfless woman’s act of kindness.
This idea isn’t limited to Starbucks. The same principle can be applied at any café. In fact, there is a whole movement around this idea known as suspended coffees. Why not get your local café involved or start a pay it forward chain of your own by gifting a warm drink to someone you don’t know.
4. Suspend a meal
Another initiative our outreach program is involved in is a local suspended meal program. We have a gorgeous French takeaway that told us they and some of their customers wanted to help someone less fortunate in our community. We told them about the suspended coffees project and asked if we could apply the same principle to meals.
It wasn’t hard to get it started. We spread the word on social media and in just a few short months, we have so far been able to give the gift of a very special meal to 20 families accessing our services. These are people who aren’t able to afford luxurious takeaway meals, so it’s a very special treat that brings them a lot of joy.
This is such an easy thing to start with a local restaurant or café where you live.
5. Complete a kindness checklist
Our free checklist for adults and kids have been wildly popular over the years. The idea with this simple, ready-made list is to check off as many ideas from 4 different categories as you can within the week.
Teachers can also get our editable checklist to customize to suit their grade level or for their students to work in groups.
If you want to add an educational component, use our checklist as an example but get your kids to make their own from scratch!
6. Gift a game
A good thing to come out of this pandemic (you have to find the positives) is how it’s helped reconnect families. I’ve heard so many people talk about the precious time they’ve spent together walking, crafting, playing games, and doing puzzles. Jigsaws, board games, and coloring have been particularly helpful for students needing to relax and calm themselves from the stresses of online learning. And I can’t even begin to imagine what teachers have been through and the self-care they need.
I think a family or teacher would love to receive the gift of a board game or puzzle. And to add a little mystery, how fun would it be to receive it anonymously in the mail!!
Of course, there are online versions to consider as well if you don’t want to wait for it to be shipped. We have some digital jigsaw puzzles you might like to gift your child’s teacher or perhaps a niece, nephew, or grandchild. The great thing about them is that a whole grade can use the same puzzle at the same time as everyone gets their own copy of the Google Slides file!!
7. Send a motivational text, card, or drawing
Coronavirus has affected everyone in different ways. From job loss to social isolation, this pandemic can take a real toll on mental health and emotional wellbeing. For some, the stress can be overwhelming while others crave contact in whatever form they can get it.
Sending a card or motivational text to let them know they are not alone can mean the world. There are wonderful websites like Send Out Cards where you can select a gorgeous card from the comfort of your home or perhaps an ecard from Jacquie Lawson or 123 Greetings is more your style.
If you or someone you know need extra support for mental wellbeing during COVID-19, the following resources may be helpful:
8. Donate to a food bank or help the homeless
Given that we run an outreach program that supports disadvantaged families, we know all about the importance of donations from the community. COVID-19 has created a lot of extra challenges for organizations like ours who are self-funded or apply for local grants to keep food on the tables of the people we support. One of the most heart-warming things that have happened during the pandemic is being contacted by people wanting to know where they can drop off food donations.
We are fortunate to partner with a food rescue organization (SecondBite) who supply us with 2 pallets of fruit and vegetables each week, but we have to purchase the majority of the pantry items we put in our food parcels. This has put a huge strain on us financially so every tin, packet of pasta, box of cereal, and jar of pasta sauce is an absolute blessing.
Here are some ideas of items that are most appreciated.
Get together with some friends to make up a hamper for a local charity. They will make sure that your donation reaches the people most in need. If you’d like to help a homeless person, check out our post for ideas.
9. Support an elderly or infirm neighbor
For many, neighbors can be a great source of support, especially if they’re elderly or vulnerable in some way. The social isolation most have experienced during this difficult time has left so many people feeling disconnected from loved ones and society.
Connecting with your neighbors is more important than ever and there are many little things you can do to show them you care. Here are a few ideas:
10. Make hug coupons or kindness cards
Hug coupons and kindness cards are such a fun idea. I include them both with just about everything I pop in the post – even the odd bill I’m paying! We might not be able to use hug coupons now but they’ll be very welcome in the near future.
Kindness cards are a fantastic way to remind someone to pay your kindness forward. We have some hug coupons you can download and kindness cards for purchase, but what’s more fun is getting your kids to make their own.
11. Share our free kindness resources
We have a range of free printable resources on our website that will help you and your kids participate in kind deeds during World Kindness Week and every other day of the year. An easy act of kindness you can do right now is to share the link with your friends to encourage them to participate in WKW as well!
We know that the acts of kindness you participate in during kindness week will make a difference to those people AND to you too. Did you know that there’s actually research that proves that recipients, givers, and even onlookers are all positively impacted by kindness? In fact, science suggests that several feel-good chemicals are released when doing, experiencing, or witnessing kindness. Oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone”, serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood, and dopamine that gives a feeling of euphoria.
Whatever positive things you got up to during World Kindness Week or any other time of the year for that matter, we’d love to hear about it. Put your fingers on the keyboard and write out your story to share with us!
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AUTHOR: Lisa Currie - Ripple Kindness Project
Lisa is the founder of Ripple Kindness Project - community project, educational resources, and outreach program. Passionate about improving wellbeing and reducing bullying, she developed a whole school, evidence-based SEL, kindness, and mindfulness school curriculum for elemtary and primary school teachers. She is also the author of character building lesson plans and activities that are available on Teachers Pay Teachers.