In a world where the latest political drama always seems to dominate the headlines and the devastating effects of climate change are impossible to ignore, sometimes it can be worth remembering the capacity for love and generosity that human beings can have to renew your faith in humanity.
Acts of kindness don’t have to be grand gestures. Showing someone that you care could take something as little as paying for their coffee order or wishing them a good day.
Wednesday 17 February marks Random Acts of Kindness Day every year - and in 2021 we all need a little hope on the horizon.
From selflessly giving to the homeless to honouring fallen heroes, take inspiration from 12 of the most incredible acts of kindness.
1. Helping a woman in need
When online comedian Carlos Davis and his brother spotted a woman paying for her petrol in pennies at a gas station, they decided to step in and offer her money to cover the expenses.
They didn’t realise how much of an impact their act of kindness would have on the woman, who unbeknownst to them was suffering from emotional turmoil.
After Davis stepped out of his car to hand the woman the dollar notes, the woman burst into tears and told him that her husband had died just a week prior.
“How did you know?” the woman asked the brothers, to which Davis responded: “It’s only right, we’ve got to stick together.”
When the woman asked the brothers how she could repay them, they told her to simply pay it forward by doing a kind deed for someone else.
Davis shared the video of their interaction on Twitter in October 2018, with the tweet garnering almost 100,000 likes and more than 30,000 retweets
2. Honouring a hero
In 2013, RAF war veteran Harold Jellicoe Percival passed away at the age of 99 in a nursing home.
Mr Percival never married, didn’t have any children and didn’t have any relatives who were able to attend the funeral ceremony.
An appeal was put out in a local newspaper for people to attend the service in honour of the veteran, who served during the Second World War.
More than 200 people turned up to pay their respects to Mr Percival after the appeal went viral on social media.
3. Shaving heads in solidarity
In 2015, nine-year-old Marlee Pack was informed that she was suffering from alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of soft tissue cancer.
Marlee was forced to miss a lot of school due to her treatment, which involved weeks of gruelling chemotherapy.
When the time came for Marlee to return to class at Meridian Elementary School in Broomfield, Colorado, she felt worried about being the only one with a shaved head.
That’s when her friend Cameron McLaughlin decided to shave her head in solidarity with her close pal.
80 students and some teachers from the school followed suit, all shaving their heads in support of Marlee at a school event called “Be Bold, Be Brave, Go Bald”.
The event raised more than $25,000 (£19,000) for St Baldrick’s Foundation, a childhood cancer research organisation.
“I didn’t think that many people would shave their heads, but I feel good about going back to school and not being the only bald one,” Marlee told Today.com.
4. The best birthday celebration
When Ollie Jones, a boy on the autism spectrum from Exmouth, turned 15 in 2016, he expressed to his mother how excited he was to open the birthday cards that he would receive from friends and family.
However, his mother Karen Jones feared that he wouldn’t receive many cards, as the teenager didn’t have many friends.
Karen’s issued a plea on a Facebook community page for people to send Ollie birthday cards in celebration of his special day.
The response that her post received was monumental, with the teenager receiving around 20,000 cards, messages and presents from people all over the world.
“I’d love to thank everyone and remind people that there are ‘Ollies’ everywhere,” Karen said.
5. Giving what you can
When nine-year-old Molly McGinley spotted charity workers helping the homeless in 2017, she felt inspired to do what she could to provide support for those sleeping rough on the streets of Manchester.
After receiving some money for her birthday, Molly decided to spend the money on food for the homeless, rather than on treats for herself.
One of the people in need that Molly and her mother came across while feeding the homeless on the young girl’s birthday was 23-year-old Margaret Smith.
“I was walking down the street and I saw all these people giving loads of food to homeless people,” Molly told Manchester Evening News.
“So I asked my mum if I could do it and she said yes. So we got some hot drinks and soup and food and gave it to Margaret.”
6. A touch of kindness with a trim
He’s also collaborated with veterinarian Jade Statt, who runs a service named Street Vet, to provide the canine companions of the homeless people that he meets with support as well.
“I didn’t want it to just be about me and cutting hair. So, I came up with the hashtag and I always wanted other people to get involved,” he told Barcroft TV.
Coombes wants to break the taboo surrounding homeless people, demonstrating the ease with which anyone can interact with people who are sleeping rough and show them kindness.
7. A super experience
For many children, the prospect of meeting a superhero is one that would fill them with immeasurable joy and excitement.
In 2016, this became a reality for children being treated at Children’s Hospital Colorado when costumed crusaders including Iron Man, Spider-Man and Captain America were spotted rappelling down the side of the 10-story building.
Members of the Aurora Police Department Strategic Response and Tactics Team decided to give the children being looked after at the medical institution a bit of boost by dressing up as the superheroes and providing them with the phenomenally super surprise.
The hospital thanked the team on YouTube for “being superheroes, this day in-costume, and every day in our community.”
8. The true meaning of sportsmanship
It’s every runner’s worst nightmare – you’re taking part in one of the most important races of your career, only to take a tumble and eliminate your chances of winning a medal.
However, it wasn’t the tangle between New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin and America’s Abbey D’Agostino at the 2016 Rio Olympics that made headlines, but the way in which the women rallied together to help each other across the finish line.
Hamblin and D’Agostino were lauded for capturing the “Olympic spirit” when competing in the qualifying heat for the 5,000-metre race.
With less than half of the distance left to go, Hamblin fell over, accidentally tripping D’Agostino in the process.
The fall caused D’Agostino to sustain a foot injury, so Hamblin helped her competitor complete the race with the pair embracing at the finish line.
Hamblin and D’Agostino were both given awards for their acts of “selflessness and exemplary sportsmanship”.
9. A selfless donation
At 19 years old, University of New Hampshire student Cameron Lyle registered to be a bone marrow donor.
At the age of 21, Lyle was informed that a 28-year-old man with leukaemia was in need of a bone marrow transplant.
Despite having a promising future career as a track and field athlete ahead of him, Lyle didn’t hesitate when given the chance to save someone else’s life.
He sacrificed the opportunity to continue competing in athletics at university in order to save a stranger.
“It’s just a sport,” he told ABC News. “Just because it’s Division I college level doesn’t make it any more important.
“Life is a lot more important than that, so it was pretty easy.”
10. Unconditional love
Ever since 1995, Los Angeles resident Mohamed Bzeek has made it his mission to provide children who are terminally ill with the love and support that they need during the final moments of their lives.
Inspired by his Muslim faith, Bzeek has fostered more than 40 children throughout the years, as he explained to CBC News.
“It’s the big factor, my faith, because I believe as a Muslim we need to extend our hand to help people who need us,” he said.
“Doesn’t matter what nationality, what religion, what country. To me it doesn’t matter, I do it as a human being for another human being.”
A documentary has been made about Bzeek’s act of love called Guardian of Angels.
11. A showstopping finish
In 2013, a student with a developmental disability called Mitchell Marcus was taking part in a varsity basketball game at Coronado High School against the Franklin Basketball Team.
Despite several attempts to get the ball in the net, Marcus was unable to score a point for his team.
That is, until a player on the opposing team decided to show him some kindness by giving him the chance to achieve glory that he deserved.
Franklin Basketball Team player Jonathan Montanez called Mitchell over, giving him the ball in the final seconds of the match.
“I was raised to treat others like you want to be treated,” Jonathan told CBS News. “I just thought Mitchell deserved his chance, deserved his opportunity.”
Mitchell then took one last shot at the net, successfully scoring much to the excitement of his teammates and school.
The video of Mitchell’s classmates storming the court after the final whistle in celebration of his goal went viral.
12. The power of teamwork
Amazing things can happen when humans band together.
In 2014, a man at Stirling Station in Perth, Australia accidentally tripped, becoming trapped in between a train and the platform.
As the man struggled to free himself, CCTV footage captured the phenomenal moment that fellow commuters teamed up to push the train to one side, eventually helping the man to free his leg.
The man was seen by paramedics following the incident, but fortunately didn’t sustain any serious injuries.
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