For Day 3 of Random Acts of Kindness Week, I’m sharing a few examples of people who are all about showing kindness to others. They are people that see a need and try to fill it, and naturally feel compassion toward people facing difficult circumstances.
Take a moment to read about these kind folks, and consider where you might see a need that could be filled. In the meantime, you can try today’s Random Acts of Kindness Foundation assignment by reaching out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Circle back and let me know how it goes, or share any other act of kindness you perform or encounter.
The first profile in kindness is a young man who is extremely pure in heart, and filled with courage despite the challenges he faces. He is Jacob Goeders, better known as The Leukemia Slayer.
Jacob is an 11-year-old boy in a multi-year battle with leukemia. I met Jacob back in December 2011 at a Christmas event for children with serious illnesses. He shared with me about how he asked his 2,000 friends on his Leukemia Slayer Facebook page to send in a $1 each, so he could buy presents for the other kids on the oncology ward. It seems he had been diagnosed the year before around Christmastime, and he knew how difficult it was to be stuck in the hospital undergoing painful treatments.
This kind boy saw a need, and he figured out a way to fill it. The result was he and his family collected more than $2,000 for what they dubbed “The Santa Slayer Project”, and bought gifts for all the kids, and many more. This past Christmas, Jacob did it again, raising a similar amount of money and supplying presents for not only kids on the oncology ward, but others in additional sections of the hospital and beyond into providing small gifts for Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc.
A chance conversation with a stranger about the plight of sexual assault victims highlighted a strong need to Lisa Blanchard, and as a result her life was forever changed.
“I remember after she told me this story feeling absolutely horrified. Instantly I had this full body experience of absolutely needing to do something to make things different,” Blanchard said. She offered to partner with the stranger to figure out how to solve the problem, but nothing more came of the conversation.
Six months later, Blanchard was working on a college project that was designed to help others in need. She remembered the conversation and went to her local hospital to ask if there was any need for donated clothing to provide to sexual assault victims. Yes, there was a huge need, she was told. And the Grateful Garment Project was born.
Since that time Blanchard’s project has grown into a nonprofit that provides clothing, toiletries, and other essentials to victims in 15 California counties.
“It makes my heart so happy to know that even though people will never know who I am, or never know The Grateful Garment Project, or never know all the people that have counted panties or folded brochures, we make such a huge difference every day. I feel so fortunate.”
It was on Jim Gardner’s daily bike rides to work along a bike trail that he witnessed homeless men and women finding shelter among the bushes and trees. When he saw a “camper,” as he calls them, with a broken bike, he realized he could do something to help.
Gardner took his knowledge of fixing bikes, some tools, and some spare parts to St. James Park in downtown San Jose, and offered to fix bikes for homeless people congregating there. As people availed themselves of his free services, he patiently demonstrated how they could fix their own bikes. Some stayed on to use their new found skills to help fix more bikes. And so it grew.
“When I saw what I taught them propagate out, that’s what really hooked me,” he said.
Today Gardner leads a nonprofit called Good Karma Bikes. In the past year the group has acquired a warehouse space where skilled volunteers fix bikes and teach repair classes so that students can gain valuable job skills. Good Karma Bikes also provides bikes for those who need them, sells used bikes to raise funds, and even does things like safety checks for bikes being given away to children through a local agency at Christmas.