24 Hours of Kindness
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
24 Hours of KindnessCould you give all day and night?
I had dubbed the event “24 Hours of Kindness.” The goal was simple: to perform as many acts of kindness as possible in the community for a full 24 hours without sleep. Thanks to our local radio station, Coast 93.1, and the support of Tim and Eva, two of the most kindhearted DJs you’ll ever meet, all of southern Maine knew about our crazy event. As I’ve said, I was now known as The Kindness Guy, and this was my first attempt at something this big. The local—and even national—media buzz was incredible.
Since 9:00 that morning, two of my kindness cronies and I had been all over town delivering free baked goods to nursing homes and schools, buying coffee for strangers, giving out hugs, moving furniture, passing out free bus fare, and completely flooding the town with a rainbow of flowers and balloons. Since it was April 15, tax day, we even spent time making grouchy taxpayers smile as they rushed in and out of the post office (a task we repeated later that night with miraculous results).
At 5 P.M., still with 16 hours to go, my adrenaline showed no signs of waning. After handing out a few more flowers and offering up free hugs at the grocery store, we were on our way to the local soup kitchen before heading to the next city for the remainder of the night.
Arriving at dinnertime, we walked though a sea of hungry souls waiting to get inside for their final meal of the day. As I looked into the eyes of the children standing in line, my upbeat energy quickly softened, and what I saw brought me down to earth. Until this point, we’d spent our time making people laugh and smile with our kind deeds, but this stop was very different. Standing there seeing the tattered clothing and leathery faces, I felt my heart breaking. I couldn’t help but feel enormously grateful that I had a warm home and was blessed with all of the necessities in life. This also prompted a slight sense of guilt.
Walking into the kitchen, we found volunteers busily preparing salads, desserts, and gallons of iced tea. People were now filtering into the dining area, and the room began to buzz. The main dish would be ready soon, and we’d have an opportunity to deliver the meals. Looking around, I became inspired with an idea to brighten up the room.
Local florists had donated hundreds of carnations to our 24-hour mission, and we still had dozens of them in the truck. Passing them out seemed like a wonderful opportunity to bring smiles to the faces of the women and children now sitting at the tables, and the result was absolute magic. With each carnation offered, eyes sparkled with excitement and gratitude. I joyfully bounced from table to table receiving everything from soft grins, laughter, occasional hugs . . . and even tears.
After handing out most of the flowers, I walked toward the back of the room where I noticed a woman sitting alone, appearing quite worn down. Unlike many of the others there, she continued making direct eye contact with me until we were finally face-to-face. Smiling, I extended my hand and offered her one of my remaining white carnations. She looked confused and overwhelmed by my gesture. Slowly opening her hand, she accepted the flower with a bowed head as tears began to form in her eyes. Hoping that she was okay (or that I hadn’t upset her), I quietly asked if she was all right. Seeming somewhat embarrassed, she lifted her head and stared up at me, now with tears streaming down her cheeks. She said, “This is just so nice . . . and, well . . . I haven’t received a flower from anyone in over ten years.”
I immediately felt a large lump form in my throat as moisture settled in my own eyes and impaired my vision. I knew that I was about to “lose it” any moment, and there was only one thing left to do: dropping the remaining flowers from my hand, I bent down, wrapped my arms around this woman, and hugged her as tightly as I could.
Shortly after dinner, my kindness crew and I quietly shuffled out the back door to prepare for our night in the city. The next 14 hours were filled with everything from feeding homeless people, delivering coffee and bagels to police stations, mopping floors at a food pantry, and even bringing peace to an angry crowd of last-minute taxpayers who were attempting to get their envelopes to the post office before midnight. It was an absolutely crazy day.
Although both my body and my mind were completely shot by the time our 24th hour rolled around, I can honestly say that my spirit was ready to do it all over again. Next to my wedding day and the birth of my son, it was without a doubt the greatest day of my life.
It’s been a few years since the first 24 Hours of Kindness. We’ve since held other kindness events, and I haven’t fully come down from the highs that each one created. But after performing hundreds of kind acts, giving multiple interviews to the media, and sharing this experience with thousands of people around the country, my heart always goes back to the grace of the sweet little lady holding a single white carnation each time I think about that day. What a wonderful reminder that it truly is the simple things in life that mean the most.