By Amy Bishop, Director of Children and Family Ministries

Kindness [kahynd-nis], noun

  • the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate
  • a kind act

What goes around, comes around. And with kindness this really seems to be true. Research shows that when we give to others it activates the areas of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection and trust. Altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain and boosts happiness for us as well as the people we help.

When we are kind to people, it strengthens our connections with them and provides a source of support. Research shows that we may benefit from giving support more than those receiving it. And we are more likely to get support in return when we need it because being kind builds a wider support network which increases well-being all around. Kindness is contagious. Doing kind things for strangers helps build cooperation, trust and a sense of safety in our communities. We see others more positively and empathize more with them.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
– The Dalai Lama

Kindness can be a smile, a thank you note or a word of encouragement. It doesn’t have to cost anything or take much time. It can be spur of the moment when you see someone in need, or it can be thought through and planned out. What’s important is that it is an act of genuine care and thoughtfulness for another person.

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

Will you take time out of your busyness this Christmas season to show kindness to someone? Some ideas are listed below, but feel free to come up with your own.

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. – JOHN 13:34-35

  • Make Christmas flowers for the office staff at your school.
  • Make a Christmas card for the school crossing guard.
  • Donate a coat to charity (put a happy note in the pocket).
  • Donate toys that you don’t play with to a local charity.
  • Leave change in a vending machine or parking meter.
  • Make Christmas cards for your neighbors.
  • Donate pet food to a local shelter.
  • Wash your parents’ car.
  • Write a thank-you note for your mail carrier or trash collector.
  • Clean up your local area (use gloves, ask an adult to help).
  • Write a thank-you note to someone who has had a positive influence on you (pastor, teacher).
  • Help around the house without being asked.
  • Offer to load the shopping cart of the person in front of you at the checkout.
  • Invite a new friend for a play date at the park.
  • Give a compliment to a stranger.
  • Walk your neighbor’s dog.
  • Put food and water out in your yard for the birds.
  • Donate books to a Little Free Library in your neighborhood.
  • Send a care package to someone in the military.
  • Bake cookies for your neighbors.
  • Sit next to someone at lunchtime that you don’t usually sit with and be nice to them.
  • Write notes to neighbors with Christmas lights and thank them for the view.
  • Help an elderly friend or neighbor with their Christmas decorations.
  • Write a letter to your sibling telling them why you love them.
  • Leave a homemade bookmark in your library book and give one to your librarian too.
  • Smile all day.
  • Hold the door open for strangers today.
  • Give free hugs to your family and friends today.
  • Use sidewalk chalk to leave happy messages around your neighborhood.
  • Donate food to St. Paul’s food pantry.
  • Give a blanket to a homeless person.
  • Take a candy cane to everyone in your class.
  • Introduce yourself to someone new at school and have a conversation with them.
  • Call an elderly relative.
  • Make a donation to a local charity.
  • Take cookies to your local fire or police station.
  • Put together care bags for your local children’s hospital.
  • Adopt an Angel from the Angel Tree.

We can’t help everyone but everyone can help someone.
-Ronald Reagan