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“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” – John Bunyan [Tweet this.]


oleary family dinner inspirational act of kindnessI was out to eat with my family a few months ago.

My three boys Henry, Patrick and Jack fought the entire time.

My angelic little girl Grace whined the entire time.

And Beth and I worked desperately to keep the noise from scaring away other diners, drinks from being spilled and food from being thrown.

It was a struggle! And one we lost.

As we finished dinner, I apologized to the sweet waitress and told her the faster she brought me the bill, the faster we’d get out of our hair.

Not surprisingly, she returned quickly with our bill.

And that’s when the surprising thing happened.

She handed it to me, smiled and told me that someone in the restaurant had covered our bill. She said the person remembers the days when their dinners were chaotic, and wanted to treat us tonight for making their night.

I stood up and glanced around the restaurant, looking for the person, the family, the kind soul. No one stood out.

I asked the waitress to please let us know who it was so we could thank them. She refused telling me again the person wanted no credit.

We stood up as a family and practically floated out of the place.

Not so much because someone saved me from an $80 dinner bill. But because someone thought enough to think about us, to be generous to us, to empathize with us.

It literally made my night – and my kids.

As I tucked them in that night, then told them stories and finally prayed with them, my two oldest chose to pray for the person who bought us dinner.

Kindness has a ripple effect.

The ripple from generosity positively impact someone else’s life, that is true. But the real gift is that the life most deeply touched is the one who gave. [Tweet this.]

Choose to live on fire with generosity today because you have not fully lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.

MONDAY MORNING CHALLENGE: 

cole1. Recall an act of kindness someone did for you, that was either anonymous or could never be repaid. Share in the comments below. (For each act of kindness shared by midnight, I’ll donate $5 to Rising Above friend, Cole, who is bravely fighting cancer.)

2. Do an “inspirational act of kindness” for someone today. The act could be complimentary words spoken, a kind task undertaken or a generous gift given.

0 replies on “Inspiring Kindness”

An angel named David made last Christmas very special for me and my family. I am a single mother of two beautiful children and was struggling financially and emotionally. I was not working at the time therefore was not planning on buying any presents and was feeling very depressed. Out of nowhere, I get a call from my church telling me someone from the church wants to bless me and my children for this Christmas. At the moment I thought it was a prank because I never expected to get a call like this. I give this stranger a call but was still skeptical about it. He tells me how God has blessed him with a lot of work, therefore he wants to bless someone else.
I met with David after church and he said he wanted to make this Christmas memorable and special for me and my children. We went shopping together for a Christmas tree, decorations, and presents for my children. He then took me shopping for myself and bought me things I would never buy myself. On Christmas eve, he brought dessert and thanked me for allowing him to do this. That was the last time I talked to him. His act of kindness really touched my heart.
Thank you David.

Wow – that is a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it with us and thank you for letting David serve you. What a special holiday of love and support for your family. Continue boldly sweet Gwendy. J

I am praying for you everyday Cole! You are such an amazing young man! I really enjoyed your posts about meeting Jimmy.
Thank you John! You are such an inspiration to so many!!!

My baby was a year old, it was Christmas, and my husband had no job. I kept telling myself that he was a year old, he will never know we had no Christmas presents but I was still so sad and felt like a failure. I never knew who, but someone put $100 in an envelope in our mailbox. Their gift meant more than I can even express. Now that I am able, we always return this gift of love to another family.

My husband and I took our kids to a hotel in a city about an hour away. It was their first hotel stay and they were so excited. We were excited but had to scrimp to do it. When we checked in they said the 2 night stay had been paid for along with any food at the restaurant. We could not believe it and couldn’t figure out how. We finally realized that it was my employer. He denied it for a long time and later left a note to have a great time and to enjoy a wonderful weekend.

This happened a loooooooooong time ago but I have never forgotten this sweet family. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer on holiday, backpacking and hitchhiking from Cape Town, South Africa, back to Botswana, where I was stationed. I had received a ride from someone, who dropped me off at a gas station on the edge of a small town. It was late in the afternoon, and not a lot of cars were traveling at that hour, so I thought I would have to find a campground and stay for the night. But a couple families pulled into the gas station in their minivans, pulling their pop-top campers. I approached and asked if I could please get a ride from them if they were traveling in direction I was going. They talked about it and I guess thought I looked safe enough, and invited me in to one of the minivans to drive to the next town down the road (about an hour away). Inside were mom, dad, two young boys, and one young girl. The kids were very excited to have me ride with them, and we started chatting. They asked me all sorts of questions about me, they told me about themselves, and they asked me to tell them stories. They wanted me to teach them Christmas songs in English and they tried to teach me Christmas songs in Afrikaans. Before I knew it, we had reached our destination. They pulled into a park, and I thanked them for the ride, preparing to get out. The parents asked if I would like to have dinner with them, which I readily accepted. They started to grill meat, and I helped the mom prepare a salad and things. We had dinner, and then they asked if I would like to drive another hour further down the road to the campsite where they would be spending the night. Most definitely, I wanted to stay with them. The kids and I talked some more and sang some more, and soon we reached the campground. I thanked them again, and got out, starting to put up my tent. The mom and dad suggested instead that I sleep in the minivan with the young girl, and the rest of them would sleep in the pop top camper. Sure! Then in the morning, there was breakfast the mom prepared, and then we piled back in the minivan and headed down the road some more. We drove a few more hours, and then eventually had to part where our paths broke apart. They left me with a large bag of provisions for the rest of the trip and lots of great memories. They drove me more than six hours, fed me at least three meals plus snacks, and gave me a dry and comfortable place to sleep. I could never repay them but I will never forget them.

I was going through the drive thru at Starbucks last week. When I got to the window the worker said that the car in front of me paid for my coffee. Never found out who it was.

Hopefully Cole’s health improves, we can never forget and we must always be reminded of our faith in humanity.

When I moved to a new office, there was a small whiteboard attached to the door. Nearly every day, some unknown person writes Happy Monday (or Tuesday or whatever day it is). It makes me smile each morning – a great way to start the day!

On one of my morning trips to the grocery store, one of the associates gifted me a bouquet of flowers as I paid for my groceries, and was gathering my bags ready to leave the store. It was such an unexpected surprise, and it really made my day! 🙂

On my wedding day my husband and I were heading out of town, but had to stop and get gas first. Our car still had the “just married” writing on the windows, a nice young couple paid for our gas. When we approached him to thank him, he said he hoped that our marriage was as happy as his… that was almost 26 years ago and we are happier than ever!

My family and I were eating at a local pizza place for Mother’s Day. The waiter came over with the bill and a flower. My daughter went on and on about how pretty the flower was. A few minutes later the waiter came back with a flower for her. I know it is small, but it made her day.

When I was in the hospital for three weeks undergoing a stem cell transplant, I was isolated from the world for three weeks, only seeing my husband and mother for about an hour a day. My nurse came in on her day off and brought several DVDs with her and we sat and laughed and laughed and had a good time. She is now my best friend in the world.

About 8 years ago, when I was a single mom with a 2 year old, I was always broke and terrible at managing what little money I had – I hardly looked in my bank account and was constantly running into red. On a trip to my parents’ house, 150 miles away, I stopped for gas. When I tried to pay at the pump, it asked me to see attendant. I went inside and the attendant took my card and swiped it and told me to go ahead and fill up and come back in to finish the transaction. I did, and then the transaction was declined. The attendant called the owner, who told her to call the police. I had my 2 year old daughter with me and was panicked. I thought the money was there since the attendant swiped it. She got off the phone with the manager and said loudly that she would have to call the police. They treated me like a criminal when I had thought my transaction was approved by the clerk. At that point, a stranger stepped in and paid the $40 gas bill and told me not to worry about it. I will never forget it.

Several years ago, my sister and I were in the hospital with my dad, who had just suffered a heart attack. A woman we did not know came from the room next door, put her arms around us, gave us hugs, well-wishes, and even prayed for us and our dad. She explained that she had been through a similar experience. Each time I think of my dad, who is still alive today, I think of that woman and the kindness she showed us.

When kindness is fully understood, it can be an driving force stronger than anything else in the world!

I was preparing to pay it forward by buying my mechanic his coffee. The guy behind me heard this and paid for all of us. Paying it forward means expecting nothing in return from the recipient yet I find myself feeling joy overflowing. To me that is priceless.

I unfortunately live paycheck to paycheck and more times than I’d like to admit am completely broke and always in debt. The day I was shown a random act of kindness was one of those days that I was scrounging change to make it til Friday. I was down to my last few bucks and stopped at Taco Bell to get a cheap lunch (cheesy roll ups and a soda). When I pulled up to the window I was actually on the phone with a bill collector almost in tears, when I went to give the cashier my quarters, lol, she told me the person in front of me already took care of it. I couldn’t believe it! That kind of thing never happens to me and couldn’t have came at a better time. That person was an angel to me! I have since paid it back and will continue to every chance I can. The smallest act if kindness can make the biggest change in a persons day/life. Thank you stranger who didn’t have to help me! I hope my story helps Cole, he is an amazing inspiration to us all and deserves the world! Stay Colestrong!

We are praying for you Cole! Thank you John for sharing your kindness. I will forever remember the kindness I felt when my younger brother “won” the Christmas Raffle at our local bank. My father had just died the week before. I was only 15 but I knew in that small gesture the community was there for my family during those dark days.

I recently had an ablation surgery after 6 rounds of chemo to remove one last tumor from my liver. As they prepped me for the procedure done in radiology they strapped my arms and legs together and still awake I was becoming very anxious. The nurse who brought me in knew me, she knew I was getting frightened and asked to stay on the case. She held my hand until they put me to sleep and told me she was going to pray for me during the whole procedure. I was deeply touched by her kindness and compassion. My personal angel.

Many years ago, I was grocery shopping with my toddler son, who was NOT behaving while I was trying to get my shopping done! A store employee who could see my frustration offered to give my son a small gift – a small plastic figure – at the end of our shopping trip if my son behaved for me for the whole time. It worked! (Well, at least somewhat :)) We still have the figure, and I’ve never forgotten that small but touching act of kindness.

I was an overwhelmed, newly single mom trying to take care of a house, a yard, a baby, a job and was at the end of my rope. One spring afternoon after picking up my daughter at daycare, I pulled up to my house and just started crying. Someone had come and cut my grass, trimmed the fence, and planted flowers in the empty pots on the porch. I later found out that my new neighbors had seen me struggling and performed this random act of kindness.

I was on my way to the immigration office for an appt I had to receive my permanent residence in Mexico. However,, you have to pay the fee the same day at the bank first, and then present your receipt at your spot time. In Mexico, if you don’t have checks, the only way to withdraw money is through the ATM machine. I kept fighting with the machine, but it just wasn’t working. I told the man behind me to go ahead, but that I was having problems. I realized he was a matice English speak er, so started talking. He insisted I take his money to pay the fee (about $300), and also offered me a teaching job on the spot. I refused his money, but took him up on his job offer :).

I think I speak for the entire Chaminade family when I say that we miss you Cole. The Chaminade family will continue to pray for you and your fight against cancer. Keep up the good fight Cole.

I feel everyday that I just want to get it over but every sense I have heard of his condition I and seen how no matter what he is going through he still lives his life and makes the best of it. Cole has inspired me and I hope you get better Cole Love you.

Helping out my little siblings when they need it, even if they dont ask for it, does wonders for them. Thank You for helping out Cole!

In the mad transition from college to graduate school I lost my dayplanner (in the days before cell phones). Someone found it in LAX and sent it to me via overnight mail after ascertaining from my mother my new address. No return address given, no name, just a note that s/he understood what it was like to lose your life-in-a-book. I was immensely grateful.

I once had an older gentleman tell me that I was honestly a wonderful mom, right while I was dealing with my daughter, who has sensory issues and was having a hard time dealing with a loud, busy room full of people. Just kind words can help.

When I was young, I desperately wanted to play soccer, but I didn’t dare ask my mom because we didn’t have the money for a physical. So I didn’t ask her and I let it go. My coach said that she had paid for it so I could play. I’m in my 20’s now and I am still very grateful for the opportunity I got to make memories.

In 2010 I had mantle lymphoma. One day a note from my cousin showed up in the mail along with his bonus from work. It brought tears to my eyes that someone cared enough to help my wife and myself out to help pay bills. I couldn’t work for one and a half years. I am now cancer free.

I will pray for Cole that he to will be one day free from his cancer.

We had a house fire in Dec. ’04. It was amazing to see the hearts of SO many people–many of who we had never met. We even had someone (neighbors down the street we’d never met) tell us we could stay with them. The outpouring of love was incredible. I’ll never forget it!

I went to buy flowers for my daughter’s grave yesterday (on Mother’s Day) and all that was left was horribly wilted pieces of flowers that I did not want to give her. The young man working picked out a mommy and me balloon for me and insisted I take it free of charge.

We are praying for Cole! John, thank you for all the kindness you bring to the world . I am thankful for the time my brother “won” the bank Christmas raffle one week after our Dad died. I was only 15 at the time and I never will forget the love I felt from our community.

When I had a former speech impediment, a person at STL Speech & Hearing offered to help pay my way to get the help I needed. Now, I go back to SNAP programs in my school district sometimes and I help the other kids who have various speech impediments.

When I was in high school, and had a very hard time making friends a teacher took it upon himself to introduce me to another girl from one of his classes who shared my love of reading. Over 20 years later and we’re still good friends.

Twice my old cars have quit on me and twice kind strangers have gone out of their way to help me out. O e couple even had to circle back over a mile to get to my side of the interstate. I was desperately grateful at the time and hope they knew how much their help was appreciated.

3 years ago, I had wrecked my car, was loaded down with attorney fees, was in the midst of the Colorado Springs wild fires, had recently been summoned to Texas to deal with a Child Visitation court battle and had no idea where and if I would be working, or living. My girlfriend and her husband opened their home to my daughter, then a year and half old, and myself for 2 months without asking anything from me. Without the 2 of them , I honestly dont know how I would have kept an ounce of sanity at the time. I am gratefuland forever indebted to them.

I first heard John O Leary’s story when I was in 5th grade. I’ve heard it two more times after that and I get more and more out of it every time. Thank you so much for contributing to the Cole Owens Charity. It means so much to his family and to the Chaminade Family.

Thank you for your passion and faith, John. Its so refreshing to read your posts. Prayers for your family and sweet cole.

When I was young we were very poor. I had musical talent and was in need of private lessons. The best teacher in town saw me play and offered to give me free lessons. I now do the same for students with talent who are willing to practice.

While this is not huge, I think it’s important. I was feeling down and lonely on my birthday. Then, as the day went on, I got many texts wishing me a happy birthday and about how I was important to the school. It was a great uplift to my morale. A small act of kindness helped me very much.

Last year I was watching my boss’ dogs while he and his wife were on vacation. When I accepted the responsibility I did so not expecting anything; my boss, Brian, and I had become friends so to me it was merely a favor between friends. When they returned Brian gave me a large amount of money more than I would’ve expected if I was charging someone. I used this money to help fund a mission trip to Hungary that I was saving up for. When I went back into work and told Brian that’s what I had done and thank him for their generosity. He told me that he and his wife had hoped that’s what I would do but didn’t want to attach any strings. He and his wife were a large part of allowing me to go to Hungary and since have continue to grow as mentors in my walk with God too. When I started my job 2 years ago I had no clue that this is what God had in mind for me.

Recently heard a graduation speech where the speaker gave each of the 35 graduates a $20 bill and asked them to pay it forward to someone they did not know bringing great joy to each of the graduates who did so.

I love random acts of kindness and Cole, I hope this random act helps him fulfill his dreams and makes his day too. Thanks John for being a part of the Chaminade family we appreciate all you do for us and our students!

My husband and I lost our first child in the 2nd semester of my pregnancy. It was a huge loss for us. We were heartbroken and I honestly did not know how we were going to recover. We had so many friends, family, and church family who reached out to us to support us. They gave us cards, food, hugs, and some shared their own losses. We truly felt God’s love through these people. Slowly we were able to move through the grief. We could not have done it without their support.

Your story brought both a smile & a tear John. My dear friend Judy used to do that quite often at restaurants for families with small children – it gave her such joy and she loved to sneak out even before they realized it had been paid – she didn’t even need to see their reaction. She passed away 2 months ago, so this brought back a wonderful memory. So happy you were as blessed!

At the age of 13, when my father became disabled, if it had not been for the kindness in the hearts of our gracious neighbors, my two brothers and I would have went without presents under the Christmas tree in 1975. At the age of 35, my father began a battle that he fought for each and every day until his passing in December 2010. Just four months short of turning 70, almost 35 years after the struggle began, and just 35 days short of celebrating 50 years of marriage to my mother, my father passed to be with my Lord. Again, at that time, there were many who blessed me and my family with no intent of anything being returned. What the world would be like if that is how we all behaved all of the time. Thanks John for being an inspiration in my life.

Years ago I was camping out with some college friends. Sunday evening, when it was time to leave, my car (an old convertible VW rabbit) wouldn’t start. A passerby saw that I was having trouble and offered to take a look for me. This guy looked a little like had been living in the forest for a while but I said OK. I was out in a national forest deep in East Texas. This was in the days before cell phones. It was getting dark and even though I had friends in the car with me I was getting scared. What did I have to lose, really? The hippie dude went under the car and when he came back out he had diagnosed the problem as a bad fuse on my fuel pump. He must have seen the look of dismay on my face because he immediately piped up with, “Don’t worry, young lady, I have one of those back in my tent!” He took off at a dead run. My friends and I were looking at each other like, right… About 20 minutes later he returned, WITH SAID FUSE. He popped it in and the car started right up. I was a young college kid at that time and I offered him $5 (all the money I had) for his help. He refused to take it and thanked me for the “fun.” No… thank you, hippie dude.

I volunteer at church on Thursdays a couple of times a month. As I was leaving last week there was a homeless lady asking for help. At times when I see these people with their signs I wonder if they are part of an organization that have people do this for a living. These organizations do exist. For some reason I didn’t think that this time. I rolled down my window and gave her some money and told her to buy herself a nice meal.

One summer when I was in high school, my sister and I took a road trip with my parent’s van to visit a state park along the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. When almost 5 hours away from home, a belt blew on the engine. Of course, this was before cell phones! As we were sitting along side of the road trying to figure out what to do, a gentleman pulled over and asked if we needed any help. Instead of just calling a wrecker or bringing us to a phone, he proceeded to take tools out of his truck and removed the belt. We rode to a store where he purchased a belt, drove back to our van and installed it himself. The whole process took a couple hours! When we tried to pay him the little money that we had, he refused to take the money and said “All I ask is that you ‘pay it forward’ to someone else!” Although I will never be able to repay him, I will never forget the kind gesture and think of him everytime I ‘pay it forward’ to someone else!

When we moved back to the US after serving as missionaries for 4 years, my husband, three children and I have just 2 suitcases each. Someone annonymously gave us a Kitchenaid mixer. I tried but have never found out who gave us such a practical, thoughtful gift. Through the years we have passed on the gift by making countless loaves of bread when we often take to others who are sick or going through a rough time. Kindness begets kindness!

I got a loaf of pumpkin bread delivered anonymously to my office with a note that said “thanks for all you do.” Made my day!

My wife has watched me throughout our marriage giving money to family, friends and strangers, without ever complaining. It has caused her to move by faith and help those she can when she feels directed by faith. Being injured and without pay this past year our family has struggled financially. We have prayed and kept our faith. We know that as long as we have our family, a roof over our heads, food on our tables, meet our financial obligations–we are blessed. During Christmas we focused on our daughter but throughout the year, I put away enough to make sure that my wife would be opening gifts as well. As the last gifts were opened she handed me an envelope. It was a credit card debt paid in full. It was a gift that I did not expect and it moved me to words I can not use to explain. A true act of love. As a family we try to do a minimum of three acts of random kindness per day. Whether it’s just saying “bless you” when someone sneezes, opening the door for others, etc. We have paid others meals in restaurants, in drive thru’s, fill ups at gas stations, parts at part stores and never did those things because we expected recognition or payback. We just hoped that our actions eased the financial pain of those we helped, if only for that moment–so they could see a better side of the world and know that negatives are temporary if we’re willing to hang ini and try. Sorry for the long response. We will be praying for Cole.

I was in huge financial debt because of poor choices and bad investments during my marriage, that after my marriage ended, I had two options, bankruptcy or trying to pay off my debt until I was 75 years old. (I’m 44) I was trying to put the funds together to pay an attorney, but couldn’t even come up with the down payment. I spoke honestly with my boss and when I felt like there no way I could come up with the money, he asked me what I needed to get started and pulled it out of his wallet. I cried and said I’d pay him back, but he said there was no need. He did that out of the kindness of his heart and has helped me emotionally through this mess. I’m a better person for being associated with him and try to give back as much as possible!

I was greeting people coming into a church service yesterday (Mother’s Day) and a lady told me how pretty I looked and could she hug me. Made my day…my week…just a simple thing, but powerful!

I was about 16 years old (so about 20 years ago at this point!)and I was filling my car with gas at a local gas station. I went inside to pay for my gas only to find out someone had already paid it for me. I was absolutely shocked and as a 16 year old, it certainly helped me out! 20 years later I still remember the feeling I felt when that happened. It was such a selfless, nice thing to do.

I was a struggling graduate student, vainly trying to support my wife and baby with a $1000-per-month research assistant ship, and our sewer line backed up into our bathtub. I did not know how I could pay for the service, but I was forced to call a plumber out to the house. While I was fretting about the eventual meeting with the plumber; I noticed my sister-in-law, who had just arrived to retrieve our nephew from my wife’s daily care, talking with the plumber, who left without ever entering the house. I then realized that she had provided her credit card on my behalf. I don’t remember facing her in that moment, but I acknowledged that gift years later when it was brought again to mind. I will never totally forget that incident.

Having my meal paid for by the person in front of me at the drive thru of McDonalds. It made my day and I was so surprised.

I was flying from Bali, Indonesia, into Japan, I had not realized that there would be a snowstorm blowing when we landed, I had checked all of my clothes through to San Francisco. All I had was warm weather clothes. A Japanese man sitting behind us heard me discussing the situation with my sister and he gave me his coat. He told me to just leave it at the hotel when I left and he would come by to pick it up. I thought that was so kind of him. He wanted nothing in return, only to help me. I have thought about that man’s kindness MANY times over the years, and have shared the story with my own children and others. What a wonderful world if everyone could show such care for others.

The lady in front of me at the gas station the other day was paying for her soda and snack and proceeded to buy a $10 gift card with it. When the cashier handed it to her heard her tell him, “can you please just give it to the next police officer who comes in?” She grabbed her items and walked out. The other cashier saw me looking dumbfounded and explained that they call her the “gift card lady” because she does that about twice a month. I was so overwhelmed with the small act of generosity and the ability to do something kind without the expectation of getting the gratitude associated with it. It was a great example of how we all should live our lives.

Today as I was filling up at the gas station a man approached me and asked if I had any change, he was trying to make fare fr the next bus. I asked him how much he needed and he replied, “75 cents I think.” Our family has been struggling this past year, both of us unemployed and without a home- thanks to the kindness of a neighbor we have not been on the streets with our young child. This man clearly had been living out there for a while, and I have just recently been blessed with a new job. I’m not even a week in but I know that I’ll have that pay check coming- things are tight but they are not desperate anymore. I gave him all the cash I had on me and wished him a good day and a dry trip with all the rain we’ve had. We’re all just inches away from having to ask for some help and I will never forget how that feels.

The nurse who helped me deliver my daughter helped me in ways I cannot begin to thank. The obgyn was trying to force me to have a c section after only 10hours of labor. She turned the drip down further than the doctor would allow of the hormone that makes you go into labor. It was making Alice’s heart rate drop which was giving him the excuse he needed. She came in to jerk me around every 15 minutes to keep her heart rate up. She was amazing and I lost the note I made with her name on it. I think about her quite often. I wish I could let her know how much that meant to me. Delivered my healthy baby girl 2 hours after the doctor and I had a screaming match because he wanted to cut me open and go home.

Bonus round: The odd couple who picked me up on the side of 45 when I was 17. They were so strangely dressed. They were not from around Houston and maybe not even from that time. They took me to 2 different gas stations and a pay phone, then back to my car. I cannot recall the exact conversation we had that day, but they told me that they just drive around helping people. They changed the way I thought that day. Time travelers changed my life 🙂

I experienced a similar act of kindness while out dining with my family. I was still married at the time and we had taken the children out for dinner. One of those midweek evening when no one felt like cooking dinner.

Whether at home or at a restaurant we paused to pray over our meal as we always had done. Apparently one of the other people in the restaurant observed us praying and paid for our meal. They told the waiter that it had been quite a while since they witnessed a family praying together.

Much like you I frantically searched the restaurant for anyone who may have been that kind soul but there was no one there. This was the first time that I had experienced such an act of kindness and it brought me to tears. My daughter asked me why I was crying and I attempted to explain to her what had just happened and how God uses angels to be a blessing to us here on earth.

When I think of that experience it still gives me chills. There is no way to repay a stranger for their acts of kindness, but to pay it forward to another. The same way that we can never repay Jesus for giving his life for us, we can only live our lives as though His mattered and follow His example of love and kindness to all men (and women).

I was once stranded at night on a deserted backroad. A man in a truck came along and hitched my car to his bumper, giving me a ride back into the city. He refused to take gay money. His name was Gus!

I was on the turnpike when my low tire light came again. I pulled into a truck stop and pulled up to the air pump. My tire blew as I parked the car. I had changed many tires but never had the spare under the vehicle. I got out my car manual to see how to lower the tire under my SUV. This guy showed up and said “Let me do it.” So he showed me what I had to do. We replaced the tire and were on our way within 10 minutes. I thank God that we did not have a blowout on the turnpike and that a good Samaritan showed up to help.

We were really struggling financially. We had no money for a vacation and were working many long hours just to cover our bills. My wife’s sister who had just recently started a new job rented a room for our family at a resort near her. It was not a fabulous 5 star resort but a nice well kept place.
We were able to get away for 3 days and relax. We were able to recharge and make some crucial decisions that helped us financially. She covered all our expenses that weekend. It was so kind of her to give when she herself had so little to help us.

I was having a really hard time physically and it was affecting my mental health as well. I had to take two weeks off work to retain my sense of self and rise above what I was going through. A girls at work brought to me a basket of body wash and lotion with a note about caring for me. She will never know the impact of caring she showed that day. It’s the little things that mean so much.

In March of 2013, I lost my home to fire. The outpouring of love from my small town was absolutely amazing. I can never repay the people for the kindness, love and generosity that was shown to my family.

I am the sole wage-earner for my family of five. I’ve always heard to put away 3 months of funds in case of an emergency. I followed that advice. A while back, I had such an emergency when I unexpectedly lost my job.

I shared this information with a number of friends in case they knew of job leads and more importantly so that they could lift us up in prayer. Within a week, one person volunteered to pay for my wife’s expensive medications and several others brought me envelopes of cash from $100 – $500. It was very humbling to accept their gifts, but I didn’t want to rob them of the joy of giving.

Later on reflecting on this, what I really saw and experienced was the love of God demonstrated through these kind people; something I would have never experienced in such a powerful way had I not lost my job.

I was blessed to find another job that I truly enjoy and my faith was strengthened.

On a perfectly ordinary day, I went to my mailbox a found an anonymous envelope with some money and poem about me that described how much they admired my work. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with both! It was so nice to be acknowledged anonymously by someone that thought I was doing a job. At first I didn’t know what I was going to do with the money, so after much thought, I finally decided to anonymously share a portion of the money with some that I knew was struggling and I used the rest of the money to purchase my first computer. The computer allowed me to get my bachelor’s degree and then my master’s degree in nursing. This act of kindness helped propel me onto my dream job in my profession. I can never thank that person enough for all they did for me and my career.

A family did the 12 days of christmas to my family a year ago. They left a gift on our doorstep everyday for the 12 days before Christmas and we still do not know who did it.

Several times in the last few weeks, other patrons in the drive-thru line at Starbucks have paid for my chai tea latte. I have been happy to pay it forward!

My son’s bike was stolen from our front porch one day and after I made a post on Facebook about what lousy thing that was for someone to do to a child, an uncle that I haven’t seen in years and barely have contact with bought a new bike for him and had it shipped to our house. It was so sweet and made me feel really loved.

December 2014 I went on Craigslist to purchase a car they told me to go on eBay for the buyers protection and the seller’s protection and I trusted it because I always purchase items on eBay so everything look 100% legit so they asked for a thousand dollars in the car will be shift iwant to go get a green dot money pack as they wanted me to they took the thousand dollars off right then and there Vinny asked me for additional thousand dollars I said no I would like my money back no respond they kept sending me emails saying that the other additional thousand dollar is for the insurance for the car I said no I would like my money back no more response for a while so I contacted Fox 4 News his name is Chris the investigator I contacted the Better Business Bureau I made a police report I also contacted the Federal Trade Commission I also contact the green dot moneypak to see if I can get my money back however they gave me 200 and $4 back the rest I have not seen because they will not contact my local police department my local police department will not contact them so I’m out of $800 when I contacted fox4news Chris and he arreted someone donated $200 and a few days later someone else donated another $200 I wasn’t asking for a handout I just wanted my money back but thank by the grace of God I I did receive it and I was able to buy my kids some gifts so I am blessed that there are people out there that still cares and still have a heart

When my father was ill I had to go to California (I live in AZ) due to my step-mom not being able to take care of my dad properly due to Alzheimer’s. While I was there four about 2 months my Dad went to be with Jesus and I had to deal with a lot including finding my step-mom a skilled nursing home and dealing with a step-sister and step-brother-in-law who were very difficult to work with while I was there as well as afterward. One of my BFFS, Linda, was ALWAYS available for a phone call from me 24/7 when I needed to talk. While that may seem like a little thing, it was a HUGE blessing to me!

Almost every month I struggle to raise enough funds to cover the living expenses for Cole and Laura and there have been several months where I was not certain I would be successful. This was one of those months and it was causing me to lose sleep because I made a promise over a year ago that as long as they are fighting this fight I would be there to make sure Laura does not lose her home and car while so she can just focus her energy on her fight to not lose Cole. This morning I received an email that John O’Leary, a man I have never heard of before, tagged Cole Vs. Cancer on Facebook and I had no clue what I was going to find when I clicked on the link. Tears of joy spilled down my cheeks as I read his post and his generous offer to donate for stories of kindnesses received. Everything about this spoke to my heart and soul and I can’t thank this man who initiated this and every person that posts a story enough for helping me to help such amazing people like Cole and Laura Owens. Thank you all so much!!!

This past year has been an adventure. My husband Ken died unexpectantly May 13, 2014…and the outpouring of love began the next day and continues. Just yesterday, a friend went with me to put flowers (from his own dad’s memorial service) on Ken’s grave. Last year on Mother’s day he and his wife, and my husband and I went to brunch together and they wanted to remember Ken in this way. This year has hopefully taught me to be more caring of others.

John I just wanted to share how good God is and just when we fret about what to do he comes through. I am spending time with my mother as she is entering her place of rest and trying to decide how to cover my work schedule too and just as I had that thought one of my co-workers sent me a text asking if she could cover it for me and expressing her empathy too. He showed me a true act of kindness in that this morning and I am so thankful. God bless your ministry because as you see I certainly needed that act of kindness this morning. Ann

My mother had Alzheimer’s and had become violent so she was sent to a geriatric psychiatric hospital. The day my mother was released after a 4 month stay, in which I couldn’t visit her, my manager and best friend offered to drive so that I could focus totally on my mother and not the driving. She took us to Dairy Queen for ice cream and then on to the nursing home where my mother would live out her last days with Alzheimer’s. This would be the last day my mother ever spoke before she passed away a couple of month later from complications of the Alzheimer’s. It was a day that I still remember today with tears and heart felt appreciation.

While living in New York in the mid 90s, I volunteered at a Women’s shelter on the weekends. Growing up in a abusive home, and witnessing my mown mother being abused most of my adolescent life, I decided to give back when I could to those in the same situation. Every day I went there I witnessed a particular woman and her 3 year old daughter, doing everything they could to help others around them. The woman was small, frail, dark circles under eyes, and often bruised cheeks. Even though she clearly needed all the help she could get, she was always the first to help get others set up with a bed or a hot meal, and never once did I ever see or hear her complain. She reminded me of my mom, and that struck a chord with me. Later that year I moved back to Texas. As movers were loading my truck I thought about that woman and her little girl. i thought about the last conversation I had with her about how she found a job and finally got assistance with an apartment of her own for she her and her little girl. She mentioned she didnt care if they never had a bed to sleep on as long as they were together, safe and in their own place. Without a second of hesitation, I told the movers we had a change in destination, and drove the truck, with a house full of furniture, directly to her apartment and dropped it off. I gave her everything I had acquired in the last 2 years of my life living in NY. I did not miss a single thing. I have never experienced a greater feeling than I did that day when that sweet little, frail woman hugged me so hard I could barely catch my breath. To this day, Stana and Bella stay in my heart and my memories, and I hope that they too, were able to pay it forward for someone as well.

My husband and I were out on a date at what I consider to be an expensive place where the meal was $25.00 per plate not including drinks. At first I didn’t like this place because we were seated at a table with people we didn’t know. Instead of complaining I went along with it, hoping these people wouldn’t be obnoxious. After dinner we asked for our ticket but we were told it had been paid for in full. It was at that point we realized a lovely couple that we shared a table with paid for our dinner. This had never happened to us before and we were in disbelief and wondered if it was some sort of joke. We did get to see who it was because we all sat at the same table, but we didn’t catch their names. That particular couple was the first to leave and we tried to rush to the door and see if we could catch them but it was too late. That moment changed our lives forever and we wished we could have thanked them personally but instead they left us with the greatest gift of paying it forward. Lessons learned from the gratitude of total strangers.

when my mother died, a friend who knew my mother had appreciated this act during the passing of another friend, brought balloons to our house for all of us kids and grandkids to release into the sky after we had attached a prayer to it. not only was it a time of healing for us, but hopefully the people who found the balloons later were all so blessed.

Struggling to make ends meet as a newly divorced single mom with 3 kids, my electricity was cut off while my laundry was running.When a neighbor stopped to pick up my youngest for school, I told her what happened and asked where the closest laundromat was so I could f make it utd finish it in time for my menial job. Stopping for coffee after dropping off the kids, she shared my plight with a member of our church who requested info to pay my electricity, water, gave me gift cards to Target and a food catering place which provided a Thanksgiving meal gor us. I never knew who that was but they’ll never really understand that they saved my life and gave me hope. I sent a thank you note back through my neighbor. The neighbor died suddenly a few years later, keeping the secret of my anonymous benefactor.

I am recently divorced. My ex-husband moved to another state and left me with the house to sell. I have had trouble keeping our yard in good shape and in fact have been in trouble with the city. Yesterday, I was so depressed about everything and then in the afternoon I looked out the window and three of the men in the neighborhood were mowing my lawn for Mother’s Day.

I’m so blessed to have so many acts to remember. What stands out most was when my sister-in-law was in her final hours and I was frantically trying to get my in-laws to her bedside from the airports. I called a friend because my sick pet was out of medication and I couldn’t get his RX picked up before the vet closed. She knew some would be staying with me, but didn’t know 15 people would at my home for the next five days. She went and picked up the medication, took it to my home, and also stocked my refrigerator with food and drinks, left flowers, and coordinated food, drinks, and supplies for the next week so my family could deal with their loss. She also took my pet to his followup visit so I could focus on my family. I will never forget the gratitude I felt that someone did so much to help because of one small request.

A few years ago, my son enlisted in the Marines. My dad was a Marine in the Korean War, and so was my uncle, both now deceased. I had tremendous fear leading up to my son’s departure for boot camp. During that time, I went on a CRHP retreat at our parish, and found myself asking everyone I knew and anyone I didn’t even know for prayer for my son and for me as well due to my anxiety. They all seemed very happy to do so for me. I couldn’t repay them for their love and kindness in terms of money. My son actually got hurt in boot camp and returned home where he started dating his future wife 3 weeks later. They just got married in January of this year! 🙂 My anxiety subsided. I’m so thankful for each and every prayer that was said for my son, and for me!

I worked as a server for many years while in college. This was not my only job, but I had many regulars. One time a customer knew I was having a hard time keeping up with the bills and school. She left me a few extra dollars on my tip and a note that said she was proud of how hard I work and that I was going to go far in life. It was the boost I needed during the difficult time. I still think back to that moment when I have a hard day and remember those that are proud of my work.

Each day, my mother cares my four children (5,3,2,1) while my husband and I work and make a living to support our family. My mother also cares for my brother’s daughter (3), and sometimes she cares for my other niece and nephew (3 and 1). She has never allowed any of us to pay her. Ever. Her kindness goes beyond what we’ll ever be able to “repay”, but the acts of her generosity every day teaches us to pay it forward, to do things for people whenever the opportunity presents itself and to be as selfless as we can in our journeys. My mother is an amazing woman and mom, but she’s an even more amazing grandmother. She has forever touched my life in many different ways, but I will go forward on this day and each day after, to be sure she knows the profound positive effect she has had and continues to have on my life and the lives of my family! We are so blessed!

When I was attending Bible College in Southern California, I was a single mom of a 4 year old boy struggling to make ends meet (i didn’t receive any child support). Southern CA is a pretty expensive place to live, and although I shared an apartment with roommates (and a bedroom and bathroom with my young son), it was difficult to pay for everything. I would often pray that God would provide food for my son to eat. I don’t know to this day who did this, but there were quite a few occasions when I would hear a knock on my apartment door and when I answered it, there was no one standing there, but instead there were bags and bags of groceries… not stale, expiring food, but wonderful fresh fruits and veggies, chicken, fish, beef, eggs, cheese, milk, even a few “treats” that a 4-5 yr old would enjoy (ice cream, cookies, chips)! What I couldn’t always provide for my son during this season, God spoke to someone’s heart to provide for us through them. I am forever thankful to them. My son is now 18 and graduating high school this year with honors. I am so grateful for the mysterious “angel” who provided for him in this way during those leaner years!

For seven years, I went to my wood working mentor, Bill Fifield’s studio every Tuesday and made everything from a pot rack to a new head board. One day, Bill showed up at my house and hung a swing he made between two trees in my yard. Because I once made a comment that I had loved to swing when I was a little girl. Bill died the following year of cancer, but the swing is still here and used by me and my daughter.

It was 11 years ago and was running late for my class. I saw George rather pale and walking like he was intoxicated. I asked if he is okay and he said i feel dizzy and my chest hurt. I quickly took him with me to the nearest emergency room and waited for him until he was seen, longest hour of my life. I went home and didnt hear from George until a week later. He then told me that he was at the hospital for 3 days as he had stroke and if i didnt insist in taking him to the hospital, he would have died. He is thankful for saving his life and calls me his Guardian angel. I always tell him that what i have done was what I ought to do as a person.
George is now living in Maryland and able to see his first grandchild.

My husband was in a near-fatal car accident. It took him 5 years to return to work. As you can imagine the bills were stacking up. I was working 2 jobs to keeps us afloat. One day my doorbell rang. It was a lady I had worked with 7 years prior. Somehow, word had gotten to her and that company about my husbands accident. They took up a collection and she brought to me an envelope with $700 cash in it. I was overwhelmed with emotion. Here I had been gone long enough for people to forget me and they had done just the opposite. Not only did they remember me but felt compelled to reach out and help me. I’ll never forget that. It was 17 years ago.

My husband and I were shopping at Bulk Barn picking up a few goodies for the kids one evening. There were 2 young girls in line in front of us. They had a large bag of Smarties that they put onto the weigh scale at the cash register. The clerk told them their total bill for the chocolates was $12.60. One of the girls said that she didn’t have enough money. So my husband said that he would pay the difference. She only had $5.00. My husband paid the amount owing over the $5.00 that the girl had, and it made us both smile to hear the girls say, “Thank you.”

My Dad died in New England when I was in the process of moving back there from the Midwest. The outpouring of thoughtful acts on both ends of this sad equation was amazing.
Rides to the airport, people watching new and old houses, food, offers of temporary housing,
planning a funeral and many, many prayers helped me get through a stressful time.
Thank you to all of those special people.

recently, I volnuteered at my child’s elementary school. It was the neatest thing to see how if one child was short some money for their special book, the other kids gladly gave their money. I noticed this time after time. It was great to see because it showed me that 1. I am amazed at what I learn form the youth today – remember to give , it brings joy to others. And 2. What amazing parents are teaching these great kids – that we all need a helping hand.

Last week on business in Savannah Georgia I was served breakfast by a young woman who told me she recently moved there with her husband who is in the military from Minnesota and this was her first day at this job. She was saying that it was an adjustment for them that was taking some time. As I was leaving I handed her a tip that was sufficient for she and her husband to have a nice dinner and said tell your husband thank you for his service. The young woman was stunned but had the brightest smile that illuminated the room and my heart.

When I was pregnant with my first son, we got some test results that were concerning. It was Christmas Eve, and the doctors’ offices were closed. We were told we would have to wait 2 weeks to get a detailed sonogram to check on the baby. Instead, a doctor came in to see us when the office was closed and did the sonogram. He spent lots of time with us, and was able to show us that our baby was healthy. This was an act of kindness we can never repay.

When our children were young we would load our station wagon till it dragged the ground and tow our pop-up camper to the woods in Colorado for vacation. Instead of 2 nights in a hotel we could afford a 2 week trip. One year a sweet older couple at church slipped me a $50 bill before we left telling me to do something special for the kids. We still had that $50 on the way home so we stayed in a Motel 6 the last night of the trip, swam in the pool and ate pizza dinner in bed watching cable TV cartoons. The kids thought this was the absolute best thing about the whole trip because it was never going to happen at home!

I was heading home from church on a Sunday morning. Sitting at a red light, i started to move when the light changed, only I looked down at my phone or radio (something unimportant) and didn’t realize the car in front of me wasn’t moving. The minute I bumped into him I pictured all the bad things that would follow. We pulled off the road to inspect the damage and to my surprise the driver didn’t want to do anything about the damage I had just done to his car. He had his sleeping daughter in the car and was on his way to a birthday party. He said it was an old car anyway and the little dent wasn’t a big deal. I couldn’t believe it! So many people would use that to have their older cars fixed up, but he was above that. That meant more to me then he’ll ever know. I always replay that encounter in my head everytime someone inconviences me.

My husband had a stroke on January 23rd, family, friends and strangers donated money to ensure I could stay at a nearby hotel, have food, gas cards and alot of kindness. I met total strangers that have become friends. They prayed with me, provided emotional support and lots of hugs. Without their kindness I am not sure I would have survived. My husband is currently in a Nursing Facility and is making progress daily. I know we have a long road ahead, but the kindness from others gets me through one day at a time.

I went to grab some breakfast one morning at Chick-fil-A when the person in front of me in line at the drive thru paid for my sandwich. While it was only a $3.50 breakfast, the kindness that someone showed me that morning just absolutely made my day!

My friends prayed for me and my Persian cat who had a major seizure and we thought he wasnt going to make it. I believe all the prayers for him brought him around and he is recovering and we hope be with us for a few more years to come. 🙂 I can never repay those that prayed for him. Such a loving act of kindness.

My family and I recently went to a Minor League baseball game in Springdale, AR. As usual with three kids I wasn’t prepared as we were approached the person collecting parking fees. I rolled down my window and he reached in and put a parking pass on the dash. He said the folks two cars up had several extra parking passes and asked for them to be distributed to the next few cars in line.

My wife and I were waiting for dinner with our two young boys when a couple who had a reservation gave us their place so we could be seated quicker. It was a very kind thing for them to do and one that we have since repaid over the years.

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Live Inspired Together is a community of friends changing the world together, starting with their own. In a world that often focuses on negativity, John O’Leary - Live Inspired shares the other side of the story through his member-supported channels (essays, Live Inspired Podcast, video, webcasts, social platforms) to connect our community and share inspiration and actions to live it. Support now.