By Dayna Mason
On TV and in social media we’ve seen grand gestures of generosity during this pandemic: restaurants preparing and donating meals for health care workers, companies converting their factories to manufacture and provide masks and ventilators, and popular musicians streaming free live entertainment. But there is another heartwarming phenomenon happening that I call “a thousand little things.”
A thousand little things
Research shows that even animals will make sacrifices and put forth immense effort to help another of its species who is suffering, and humans are even more compassionate than animals.
“While survival of the fittest may lead to short-term gain,” says James R. Doty, M.D., Professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, “research clearly shows it is survival of the kindest that leads to the long-term survival of a species.”
Kindness—compassion—perpetuate the human race.
We are biologically wired to recognize the suffering of others and desire to alleviate it. Compassion overwhelms our selfish concerns and motivates our altruistic nature.
Here are some examples of how those in my life are exhibiting compassion during this time:
When toilet paper was impossible to obtain, one friend in the high-risk category for the virus posted in an online group about going to three different stores and coming away with nothing. Another friend tracked down some tissue and took it to her.
One of my sisters delivers bouquets of flowers to her friends and co-workers’ doorsteps to lift their spirits and stay connected. My other sister works at a nursing home. She and her co-workers purchased a gift and threw a small birthday celebration for one of their patients who has been separated from her daughter (due to COVID-19 risk restrictions) who normally frequently visits.
An ex-pastor friend sets aside two hours a day to make phone calls from a list of those he knows who are struggling with isolation.
Several of my musician friends are sharing live streaming performances, interacting with their online audiences as if they are all together in the same living room, providing connection that many of us are craving.
Another friend is buying local wine, flowers, and other products from small businesses every week and driving all over the region to distribute them to various friends’ porches. This generosity has been tagged on social media as #porchlove. When I mentioned to her how sweet these gestures were she said, “I think the more we can spread little acts of kindness – whatever they may be during this heavy time of isolation – the better off we all are.”
Someone else is shopping almost daily for friends and relatives in need of groceries and other necessities.
Many customers at a hardware store where one of my friends works have been taking the time to thank the workers (they are not typically thanked for the job they do) with notes, patience, and appreciation for working during the pandemic.
Finally, a friend and Burien resident has been contributing more than her share of kindness to the community. Crocheting headbands and face masks for friends and family. Putting messages of hope in chalk on her sidewalks as well as drawing hopscotch for people to play as they pass by. Playing piano from her window and greeting people walking on the sidewalk. Sending greeting cards and gifts, baking things to share, calling relatives and elderly friends, and ordering take out from local businesses. Helping elderly family figure out how to navigate delivery websites. And, she is working on setting up a little library and little grocery corner box where people can take or leave what they want. When I told her that she is amazing, she said, “Not amazing, just doing what everyone is trying to do.”
This is just a small sample of the people who are doing what they can to alleviate our distress during this challenging time.
Most of us are not making the nightly news with our generosity. But what we are doing is just as important and valuable. We are doing a thousand little things, acts of kindness, every day, with little or no recognition, because it is who we are.
RESOURCES & Ideas for acts of kindness that don’t cost money
Various Volunteer opportunities:
Express love to the Chinatown-International District:
Become a crisis counselor:
Crisis Counselors answer texts from people in crisis, bringing them from a hot moment to a cool calm through active listening, collaborative problem solving, and safety planning.
Kitchen table kindness:
“Kitchen Table Kindness” activities that can keep children meaningfully engaged while spreading kindness to others.
Do Good From Home:
Ideas for doing “acts of good from home.”
Happy heart hunt:
Campaign to cut out paper hearts and tape them to your window. Template included.
Gratitude for delivery drivers:
Ideas to show delivery drivers our gratitude.
Loving letters for Grandfriends:
Sign up your child to send letter to seniors or sign up your senior to receive letters.
Cards for hospitalized children:
Make cards to send to children in the hospital.
Random acts of kindness:
Take a tour of mars, listen to children’s stories read by celebrities, tour the Louvre in Paris.
Leave messages of encouragement for others
Shop for neighbors:
Offer to shop for those in your life who are at high-risk for the virus
Drop off items (notes, homemade cookies, flowers from your garden, etc.) on porches to lift the spirits of friends and family
Love for the elderly:
Write letters to elderly members of our community
Make an appt online – https://www.bloodworksnw.org
Deliver food in the Seattle area:
Join Be A Neighbor to help:
Helping Hands in Washington:
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