In working with the ripple effect, you have to plant seeds with a lot of faith -- that someday, whenever the time ripens, the seeds will sprout from the depths of the soil. Fortunately for us, after having planted seeds for so long, we get to see little sprouts practically everyday. Like last week, when Michael Godinez wrote us this note:
I have ordered 100 Smile Cards before, and I received a few idea cards as well. That was great! So when I went to school to teach, I told the students about HelpOthers.org, and what they are about. I told them how this site is helping spead kindness and joy around the globe.
I printed off that book of stories, and also took that to school. I gave the book to a student and told him to pick a story and read it. I teach 8th Grade so of course he acted like "whatever" and picked the shortest. Then when he finished reading everyone when still not listening. I told the person behind them to read another one. After the first one, they all were all listening -- and you could tell that they were into it.
I talked more about the site, then reached into the envolope you guys sent me, and gave each student a card. I told them to use this card on somebody before lunch. They did, it was very sweet what some of the students did, paying for others lunch, snacks, etc. I then told them after lunch that I will give each of you 1 more card. I want you to take it home, use it on someone outside school. Then told them that they had a week to use the cards. They loved it!
I believe this will be a big thing with this school. That is why I told the principal about it. She also loved it. Then I told her that we should have the whole school do it. She liked the idea and thought we should have a contest -- who-ever uses the most cards and writes a paragraph about each act of kindness, gets a pizza party for their classroom!
Well, we need more cards for this event. We would like to do this next week. We are requesting 500 cards, if that is possible. If that is possible, could you also include like 10 of those idea cards? We would like to post them around the school for the students.
We love your site and what you are doing here.
Our shipping team was so touched that they shipped 'em a "priority mail" package with 1000+ Smile Cards, ideas-cards (shown above), Smile Decks, and such. Along with that, we also included a letter that Mr. Godinez had requested:
To all the children and teachers at Truth Christian Academy,
We’re really excited to hear that you are all going to be using these Smile Cards to spread kindness in your school and community.
Smile Cards started as a simple idea way back in 2003, as a way to prank someone, but in a good way, by doing something creative that left them feeling better and happier, and like most pranks, they weren’t supposed to know who did it, which is why you leave the card behind. If you don’t know who did something nice for you, you can’t go and thank them so the only thing you can do, is do something nice for someone else and then that person would do something for someone else themselves which creates a chain of kindness - all started by a small gesture by one person. Even if you can figure out who did the nice thing for you, the Smile Card reminds you that the person doesn’t want anything back, they want you to pay-it-forward to somebody else.
There are lots of people of all ages, all religions, and all nationalities using Smile Cards all around the world and afterwards they write about it on HelpOthers.org. Somebody on HelpOthers calculated that if one person did one random act of kindness for three people and those three people did it for three more people and those three people did it for three more people then that would equal 81 people who received some kindness through a chain started by one person. That was just three levels of pay-it-forward. If you do fourteen levels, that makes it 14,348,907 people...that's a little more than the population of Manhattan! All started by one person!
But even if the chain doesn’t go that far, even if you just help one person one time, they might remember it for the rest of their lives! Can you remember a time when someone did something nice for you unexpectedly? Doesn’t it still bring a smile to your face when you think about it? A 74 year old woman recently wrote on the site about an act of kindness she had experienced 62 years ago! It was a very small thing, but she’s remembered it all this time.
"I was 12 years old and sewing my graduation dress by hand. In those days, you didn't make an appointment with the doctor -- you just sat in the waiting room (her living room) until it was your turn, and it could be a very long wait... so, I took my graduation dress along to sew while I was waiting. I was having trouble making a knot, and a young woman with a foreign accent offered to help me. It was such a small thing but the reason this simple act has stayed with me all these years (I'm 74 years old now) is because I came from a very unhappy family situation... It may seem odd that this event impressed me and its memory has stayed with me all these years... but it exemplifies how the simplest acts of kindness can be priceless!" -- by Lollypop
It doesn’t matter what your situation is or what you do for someone else. You can do something as simple as doing the dishes at home when it’s not your turn and you can leave the Smile Card behind to surprise the person who was supposed to do it J You could pick some wild flowers, bunch them up nicely and leave them on a neighbor’s doorstep with a Smile Card. Or if you can think of something more creative you can do that. We have lots of stories and ideas on helpothers.org. Here's a short story that might inspire you -- it was posted by 'Blessed66' and voted in our 'Top Ten Stories of 2010':
This is a story that happened 15 years ago but it has always stayed with me since then.
On the way back from work every evening, more often than not there would be a homeless man standing at the exit of the freeway. He looked to be in his late 40's but was probably a lot younger. He had shoulder length straight black hair a short beard, and he was of average stature.
His eyes were what struck me the most about him, they were brown and they had a sparkle. Like an inside light that was beaming out of his eyes. His eyes, I thought, represented the man in general. People say they can tell a lot from a person’s eyes. It was certainly true in his case. He always waved at every car, he was always happy and smiling and sometimes almost dancing.
Every day after work I would remember to gather any spare change, and put it aside to give to him if I saw him. A feeling of joy would come over me every time I saw him, as I came off the ramp. He had that effect.
I'd quickly roll down my window and give him the coins. Occasionally the red light would be on for a minute and we would ask each other about our day. His answer would always be the same, "I'm blessed!"
I knew what his answer was going to be every time, yet I would still ask. It amazed me that even in his situation of being homeless he was so positive, and his answer would remind me of how blessed I was. A single mother of four amazing kids, with a place to call home and with a job to provide for my kids.
Then one day I was called into my boss's office and was told that I was being laid off due to the economy. A feeling of worry engulfed me, and for the rest of that day all I could think of was "How am I going to provide for my kids, how am I going to pay rent, what am I going to do?"
Needless to say that on my way home that day I was very sad and upset. I didn’t remember to look for my spare change and keep it ready like I usually did. I wasn’t feeling the joy as I got off the ramp where the homeless man would be. Yet there he was as always, as I turned the ramp. He set his eyes on me, while still smiling and waving at others.
I'd hoped to catch the green light, but I missed it. While I was waiting for the red light to turn, he strolled over to my car. He had a big smile he looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Today I will give you a dollar." He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a dollar bill. I was blown away. I burst into tears. I wanted to jump out of my car and hug him!
You see that day he gave me more than a dollar bill, he taught me a valuable lesson. No matter what material things are taken from you, no one can take away your choice to be joyful. My ride home was smooth sailing, I had lost my job, had no savings, but I knew I was blessed!
Every time I’m faced with challenges, I think of the homeless man’s valuable lesson and remember that I am blessed.
We hope you’re inspired to use your Smile Cards to help bring some happiness and kindness to your community and we can’t wait to read all your wonderful stories.
Your friends in kindness at HelpOthers.org
What a joy it is to be an instrument for these kinds of amazing possibilities. We are now thinking of ideas that we can do to tag the winning class -- something that perhaps keeps on giving.