20 Acts for 20 Years

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My 20th birthday I believe will be one of the most memorable birthdays I’ll ever have. To start my 20th year of life off, I wanted to have an adventure with my family. So, I made up a list of 20 things to do to celebrate my birthday. This wasn't any ordinary list, it was a list of Random Acts of Kindness. I read blogs and web postings about various things to do on your birthday, some rather crazy , and some that I probably wouldn't remember the next day. But one posting stuck out at me. This woman who was turning 35 decided she would take her kids and fill their day of doing 35 RAOK (Random Acts of Kindness). It inspired me to create my own list and complete 20 tasks with my family. I made our list and we set out around 1:00 after we went to mass and lunch together.

My goal for the day was to complete 20 tasks by dinner, as well as spreading the different acts around the Orlando area. So, instead of completing two acts at the same location, we would spread out all the RAOK in Orlando, in the hopes that we could touch more than just a couple people.

If you want to see the 20 acts that we did, check out below the numbered RAOK with their picture J It was an incredible day, my friends. I do have to begin this to say that we didn’t wait for people to see the things we did or approach someone for every act, we really just “left” whatever it was and scooted out. This is because as much as we would have LOVED to see people’s reactions, but it seemed almost more powerful to take "us" out of the equation for whoever found or received the act.

I know I'm only one girl and I can't change the world in one day. But, I do believe that simple acts of kindness daily, do impact others around me. And, if I could reach just one person doing these simple, random acts...then I would feel more than overjoyed! 

My hope is simple, that the people who received each act would find joy in their heart and a smile on their face, and that one day they could return this kindness to another person….also known as the Pay it Forward idea. So here it goes…come journey with me on my 20th birthday! 

#1.  Bring all Carts Inside at a Grocery Store

This act brought me back to my Publix employee days. I know I would have more than loved any help back when I collected carts. So, we went to Winn Dixie and brought every grocery cart from the parking lot inside. It was funny because the Employee who was bringing in the carts kept looking at us funny, but never questioned why we were helping him out. It was a great way to begin the day! We were able to clear the whole parking lot! Something kind of interesting happened…once of the costumers got into his car and he sat and watched what we were doing the whole time.  I’m sure we looked crazy just bringing carts in and asking those who were putting groceries into their cars if we could take their cart. I’m curious what he was thinking. But anyway, it was a fun, energy pumping way to start our day!

#2. Put 4 Lotto Scratch Offs on a Gas Station Pump 

This was a fun one! I bought 4 lotto scratch offs at this 7-11. *Reason for 4 is that they say 1 out of 4 win, who knows if it’s true, but at least I tried!* Once we bought the cards, I taped them on the gas station pump outside. I left a little note wishing the person good luck and hope this is their lucky day! Then we left. When we drove back by it ten minutes later, the cards and note were gone. Hopefully whoever received this act was a winner! 

#3. Give a Random Person a $10 Publix Gift Card

So, we went into Publix to get some napkins and drinks for later in the evening and came out with so much more. When we were at the checkout line, we purchased a $10 gift card. Once we had paid and were about to leave I turned around and gave this friendly man behind us the gift card. I didn't exactly explain or go into detail, all I said was it’s my birthday and I wanted to give him this gift card. He was shocked to say the least. But, he had a little boy with him (cute as a button), so although he wasn't tearing up right then or going crazy as to why we were giving him this gift, the genuine “Oh wow, thank you so much” was felt deep within our hearts. This was an incredible way to help jump start our afternoon.

#4. Courteous Driving
My lovely daddy was the driver for the day. This may seem minimal and not as cool or important as the others on the list. But, it totally is. It’s amazing to me how few people are courteous to each other on the roads, especially during the holiday seasons. Therefore, my dad completed this task beautifully. He let people go in front of him, let others take the closer parking spots and basically just put everyone on the road before himself. This was a really cool act because it was something that was done throughout the whole day. This really allowed us all to pay attention to driving and being polite on the roads. (By the way, my dad rocks, if you didn’t know!)

#5. Bring Cupcakes to the Local Fire Station

We bought superhero cupcakes (how appropriate!) from Publix and wrote thank you notes to our local firemen and women. My mom and I went inside to talk to the firemen, just thinking we would get a “thanks”! But, they invited us into their station and offered for me to try on all the gear and they would pull the truck out so I could sit in it! Haha! Isn’t that totally cool!? They were so awesome and friendly! So , I decided I would just wear the helmet and stand in front of the truck with them! They were so appreciative and actually one of the guys had a batman tattoo, so pretty sure the superhero theme was a great choice! This made me want to tear up a little at how amazing they are for constantly protecting us and how little recognition they get daily. What a fun and humbling act!

#6. Feed Parking Meters and Put Coins on a Parking Meter

I am a student at UCF and for any UCF students out there that just need to run into the shops or All Knight Study for a couple seconds and don’t have enough change, then I think you will appreciate this one! We went onto campus and filled one parking meter that only had a couple minutes left on it. Then went to 2 meters that had no cars parked there and taped 4 quarters to it, with a little note! This was neat because I know this is something that I would appreciate if I found this on my meter. It was kind of funny because as I just finished taping the quarters, a car was about to pull in , so I scooted off to the car.  It’s neat to know that in that minute as he got out of his car, he would see the “Happy Day” note I left him, in addition to the money!

#7. Buy Coffee for the Person Behind us
This was VERY AWESOME! The 4 of us went to Starbucks, right off campus. We figured this would have been really a perfect place since it is finals week. But guess what? There was no line…haha Jokes on us! So, we stood around and waited for a couple minutes until this sweet girl came up behind us. My dad told her that I wanted to buy her drink since it’s my birthday. She was so shocked and kept asking if we were kidding and if this was just a joke. Once she realized it wasn't , we all ordered and then I stood and talked to her while our drinks were being made. She was fabulous! It’s funny because she is a student and was studying for finals, so we had much to talk about. And, want to know the best part? She told me she was going to look up RAOK when she turns 20 this summer and hopefully be able to pay this forward. CHA-CHING!! I think my heart was bouncing full of joy inside my chest when she told me that! How humbling is that? And to make things better, she couldn't stop saying how much we made her day and how thankful she was. Wow! I bet if she went to my high school we would have been BFF’s because she was totally awesome! I could have talked to her for hours.

#8. Put Enough Coins for One Wash on top of a Washer in a Laundry Mat

This act we decided to go to the local laundry mat and nonchalantly put enough quarters on top of one of the machines for one round of washing. This was a cool act, hopefully someone has some clean clothes now!

#9. Bring a Dessert and Drink to a Toll Booth Worker

This was one of the funniest acts! So, we bought a crum cake (yummm!) and a water bottle at Starbucks in the intention to bring it to a Toll Booth Worker. After we bought the cake, we got on the toll road and went to the get change station. The guy on duty was named Pedro. He was really nice but had no idea what we were doing! Poor guy was so confused. My silly dad handed him our money and then goes, “Oh yah and this is for you..” and hands him the snack. And then he goes , “ Oh and can you please pay for the two people behind us and give them this note..” and handed him the extra money and notes. HAHA What even , dad? Hhaha! Pedro was like okay…so then finally my dad explained to him what we were doing and I believe Pedro still didn't get it. SO, to make matters more crazy, we asked him if we could take a picture of him for our journey, I believe his expression says it all! I think maybe once the four of us left, he may reflect on what the crazy people in the Sequoia were doing and get it! Hopefully J

#10. Pay for the 2 Cars Behind us at a Toll Booth

Like I said before, we paid for the 2 cars behind us when we went through the Toll Booth! 

#11. Put Coins at a Coin Drop for the Toll Booth (the ones your throw your exact change into)
After we paid for the two people and left Pedro, we drove to exit at the following exit, an exact change exit. Don’t we all hate those, or what?! I know for me, I never have the right amount of quarters (which was all they took…crazy). So, we taped the 75 Cents right next to the bowl where you throw your change in. In my head, I think people who already have their change out will probably not even notice it. But, the ones who have to stop and dig through every crevice of their car will notice and hopefully be able to use the change we put up there!

#12. Pick up Trash

When we arrived at the hospital, Momma K was being a good Samaritan and picked up a bunch of beer cans and trash scattered throughout the parking lot.( She happens to be the most selfless person I know)

#13. Deliver Balloons and Goodie Bags to Pediatric Patients or Family Members

This is one of the sweetest acts , I believe, that we did. We went to the dollar store and bought enough little goodies and happy face balloons for 2 girls and 2 boys. My intention was to be able to give these to 4 kids in a hospital , going for treatment or recovering or what not. But, the head nurse actually told us for patient confidentiality they couldn't just let us walk around searching for kiddies. Which makes sense! And come to also find out, this hospital didn't have a children’s ward. So, our next best bet was giving the goodie bags to the head nurse for the labor and delivery ward. The nurse assured us that there are always big sisters and brothers coming through the rooms daily and that they would most definitely (along with the parents) appreciate these goodies! So, we gave them our fun bags! 

#14. Put Change on a Newspaper Stand

After the hospital  we went outside to their Newspaper stand. Here , we taped enough quarters to buy a new paper! And of course, following suit, we left a fun note! Hopefully someone will be able to read up on our crazy world !

#15. Put Coins on a Soda Machine

Funny thing about vending machines…they barley exists! My goodness! It took quite a while to find a place that has vending machines. But, we finally did…Walmart! My mom and I went in and taped the right amount of dollar bills to the Soda Machine! We definitely got some crazy stares but hopefully whoever got this was able to get exactly what they wanted!

#16. Buy Food for the Person Behind us in a Drive Thru

We went to McDonald's for this one! After we went through, we asked the Cashier if there was any way if he could pay for the man behind us and if she could give him the note I wrote. And of course she said yes! So, we paid for his meal. It was neat to be able to actually see his reaction. He was so smiley and kept nodding and waving to us! It felt so good to see such joy on this man’s face! I think by the part of the day I was just bursting inside of excitement! 

#17. Give a Random Person $10

This happened to be one of my top favorite acts of the day! It’s actually kind of a funny one. So I really wanted to give someone a free $10 bill. But, my dad suggested that we go to some fast food restaurant and tape it to the inside of the stall with a note saying to take it! Therefore, we decided to go to Bojangles and go into their bathroom. Unfortunately it wouldn't stick to anything! So, we taped the ten dollars to the bathroom mirror in the big stall…no way you could miss that! I really wish I could have been a fly on the wall when the person went into this bathroom. But, I know it would mean more to come from a stranger. My dad kept saying , while he was waiting, he wanted to tell the nice cashier that he thought the womens bathroom needed to be checked, and then thought it may be strange coming from a guy! Haha! Oh well J I’m sure whoever needed it was the one who received this act. 

#18. Write a Thank You Card for my Mailman

My mom used to always give our mail lady, Candice , a Christmas card and usually a little something every year. So, I decided that I wanted to give our Mailman a little thank you/Christmas card! I was worried he may not even notice it was for him, but it was definitely gone the following day! Fingers crossed that he got it! 

#19. Give Flowers to Someone I know

This was my last act for the day! I bought beautiful peachy colored roses in a cute yellow vase and gave them to my wonderful roommie, Amy! Amy is an awesome girl and fabulous roommate to live with! She actually surprised me by decorating the house when I came home! She’s precious and was very appreciative and I think, surprised that she was part of my RAOK day! 

#20. Give Cookies to my Neighbor

My last task actually had to be done the following day because my neighbor goes to bed at like 6pm. She’s a feisty lady in her late 80’s who I see all the time scooting around our apartment complex with her dog. So, I decided to bring her some cookies to celebrate my birthday with me! She was very appreciative and said not many people come to visit her , none the less bring her desserts! She is beyond precious and it touched me to be able to give this to her!

We did have 3 unplanned Random Acts of Kindness that happened:
#1. When I was buying the supplies, the screen asked me to donate to St.Jude’s Children’s Hospital  So I donated some money to that via CVS.

#2. My dad gave the Ronald McDonald House for sick children our extra change.

#3. Our last stop when we were finished was to Publix to get my birthday cake. Well low and behold, we saw an old married couple having car problems…their car would not start. So, we pulled over and with the help of another car who stopped with us,  my dad and the other car were able to jump start the couple’s car! It was funny because it only seemed natural, especially after our day, to get out of the car and help them.

There were things also that we did constantly throughout the day:

#1. Smile at everyone and talk to others in line, even ask the cashier’s sincerely how they were doing.
#2. Open doors and hold doors open for pretty much everyone.
#3. At two stops we wrote fun , happy little notes and posted them on people’s car windshields.

As I hope you can tell, this was an amazing day, one that I will never forget. It was amazing and quite baffling for those who we did encounter. People seemed so surprised and taken back (not in a bad way) by the simple acts of kindness. What a sad thing! I know our world is good and I hope and believe in my heart that we were able to affect more than just 20 people. I pray that those 20 people told their families, and their families told their friends and their friends did some form of act of kindness and so on n so forth.

But, more than I expected, this affected me. Since Sunday, I have been more aware of my driving, listening to people, bringing up a cart when I go in and bringing mine back when I leave, and even the simple thank you to someone who does something for me. I hope this message reaches you well and that maybe after reading this, you too are able to do one simple act of kindness a day. Because as well all know…in the end only kindness matters. 

Be kind to one another.
Love and peace,


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