A Challenge.

When tragedy strikes, there is only one thing to do.

Let's start with some positive words from Mr. Rogers.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

– Fred “Mr.” Rogers  (Read  Dealing with Tragic Events)

I believe that Mr. Rogers is right. Focusing on the helpers in a situation will help you to refocus from the negative to the positive at least as much as possible.

Well, while I would never debate or dispute Mr. Rogers, I feel there is a second piece to this that he did not mention that I shared on Facebook earlier today.

BECOME a helper yourself. 

That will help you to stop feeling so powerless and to regain a semblance of control in an otherwise helpless situation. I know that it works for me.

After a random act of violence, the best thing we each can do is a random act of kindness.

Please touch someone's life in some  positive way this weekend – whether large or small and report back here. It can be as simple as holding open a door, giving money, visiting a neighbor, bundling up some books and giving them to the library, or sending a card. Anything. Don't think or overthink it. Just do it.

Feel free to repeat as often as you need to until your heart starts hurting just a little bit less.

I need to restore my faith in humanity, and I'm guessing a lot of you do, as well. Let's do it together.

Thank you in advance.

Warmly,
Nicole Dean

PS. Here are some awesome examples: Random Acts of Kindness.

PS again. Here are some organizations where you can donate directly to help the victims of Newtown.

– Ways to Be a Helper –

Throughout the weekend, I'm going to add to this list to include ways that you've mentioned to help others.

** If donating money, consider donating in the name of one of the victims. **

  1. Give an extra big gift to your kids' teachers this year.
  2. Bring your old books to the library. You've already read them, will you really read them ALL again?
  3. Toys for Tots
  4. Call someone you love just to say “hi” and tell them you care.
  5. Go to a friend's home who is ill and give them a meal. Don't ask first. Just do it.
  6. Call your church and ask about programs where you can serve with time or money or both.
  7. Offer to decorate an elderly neighbor's home for Christmas.
  8. Bring your old towels, sheets, or blankets to the local Humane Society. (They can be ones you would otherwise throw away. Stains and tears are ok.)
  9. Give a meal to someone who is hungry.
  10. Bring canned goods to your local pantry. (Even if it's stuff from your pantry that you don't want.)
  11. Buy some trash bags, board games, or food items (or offer to cook a meal) for families at your local Ronald McDonad's House.
  12. Learn where abused and abandoned children in your area are served (in my area, it is Children in Crisis) – and find out how you can help.
  13. Bring some treats to your local Fire Department. (Side bonus: Firefighters…)
  14. Salvation Army wishing tree for children who would not otherwise get gifts.
  15. Foster children move from one home to another, often with all of their belongings in a paper or plastic sack. Donate a new or used backpack or suitcase.  (See Jeanette's comment below.)
  16. Sign up for a CPR and/or First Aid class.

I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Jeremy Ginn
    Reply

    Nicole,

    I love that you posted this challenge. It’s easy for people to get stuck in times like this. It’s easier for people to get angry, disillusioned, and/or afraid. Action helps overcome all of these.

    I love ya girl!

    Jeremy

  • Christine Steendahl
    Reply

    We have been doing this for our advent calendar. Each day we have been doing random acts of kindness. Some things we have done are: Giving a waitress a 50% tip, but a cashier a candy bar, give homemade cookies to the elderly from church, donate to a family adopting, wrote a letter to our Compassion Child, donated items to the school collecting supplies for local families this Christmas and more (we are on day 15) 🙂

    • Nicole
      Reply

      I loooove this, Christine.

      Thank you for inspiring me. I believe we shall implement this as well. 🙂

      You are amazing!

    • Clefty
      Reply

      Ooh that list is great. I like the 50% tip and buying the cashier a chocolate bar ideas. I’ll do these this week at some point 🙂

    • Jen Moulton
      Reply

      A couple weeks back, my husband and I gave a server a 10 dollar bill, despite our bill only being a little over 6 bucks, for some dessert 🙂 I love to do that once in a while, especially during this time of year…they of all people, can truly use the money!

    • Lisa Marie Mary
      Reply

      Total awesomeness. Thank you, Christine, for the great ideas! I just gave the checker at Walgreen’s one of my ‘buy 3 for $2’ Kit Kats. She was so surprised, didn’t want to take it. I had to convince her. Awesome. Thank you!

  • Donna Bainton
    Reply

    Thank you for posting this challenge Nicole. It’s a reminder to us all that we are not alone and we are NOT powerless. Let’s work together to bring positive change to our world.
    Standing with you,
    Donna

  • Sarah
    Reply

    Random acts of kindness are a great idea, always! Sometimes we do need a little reminder by reading things like this to get us going with them. Thank you.

  • Jo Casey
    Reply

    I know what you mean Nicole-events like yesterday’s in Connecticut serve as a reminder to up our game I the humanity, kindness & empathy stakes. The only good that can possibly come from it is test it jolts us into remembering the purpose of being human-to make a small jut positive difference to the world.
    Today my Mum & Dad got a knock at the door from The local church telling them they’d win the Christmas raffle-the first prize being a hamper of food. The immediately went online & found the details if the local food bank-desperately in demand this Christmas from Families who can’t afford to feed themselves and their children. Tomorrow we’ll drop the food off at the local shelter along with extra toiletries, sheets and towels we raided from our cupboards.
    Ill not lie-it felt like a small piece if good we could do-like for an instant we had some control over the badness in the world. I know it’s a tiny drop in the ocean but it was at least something we could do in the face of such horror

    • Nicole
      Reply

      I feel like it’s almost like fighting back. Fighting back against the bad with all that we have. It can’t undo anything, God how I wish it could – but maybe, just maybe it will make a difference in some way.

      Hugs and I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts.

  • Bill Downing
    Reply

    Thanks Nicole,

    I find that music helps in times like this.

    This is a my friend Shelby Figueroa singing High Wire. “I am on a high wire and I am afraid of heights.” http://nitro31.com/high-wire

    I found this very comforting today. And yes we all have felt afraid of heights of one sort or another in our lives.

    Be thankful for all the people in your lives today and the memories you share.

    Be at Peace,
    Bill

    • Carl
      Reply

      Bill I checked out the song and Shelby has an awesome voice – amazing. I am a firm believer music can heal our hearts and souls. Thanks for sharing the link to Shelby’s singing – awesome voice.

  • Cindy Schulson
    Reply

    I love that you’ve shared this Nicole. If we can show love and inspire others to do so, it can be so powerful.

    I’ll share a random act of kindness, but not from me, from my son. He donated money to support a charity for homeless children in San Diego. We told him we would double his donation but didn’t pressure him to do it, and he just came up and gave me money.

    Pay it forward baby boy!

  • Peggy Baron
    Reply

    It’s about loving each other, that’s the base that has eroded.

    Today, on one of my Twitter accounts for my physical product, I tweeted about other peoples’ products. Hopefully it will get them some traffic and maybe even some sales.

    Thanks for doing this, Nik.

    Hugs.

  • Ellen Britt
    Reply

    Just found out that my dear friends’ grand-niece, 6 years old, is among the dead. Please keep the families and extended families in your prayers…

    • Geoff
      Reply

      Oh, Ellen! We are all dealing with this tragedy in our own way, but for most of us, it is of necessity a little distant. Please know my heart goes out to you and your friend.

      Geoff

    • Carl
      Reply

      Ellen this tragedy has deeply saddened and angered alot of us and left us with so many questions. Not only has this tragedy affected those in United States but other countries are affected by this event.

      Our hearts are heavy for your loss and our prayers will be for you and your family as you grieve your loss.

      I wish we could all turn on the TV to find it was just a nightmare however it was a living nightmare we can’t forget.

  • Collette Schultz
    Reply

    It seems so unrea. Yet seeing how it has connected the nation made me turn on the song”Angels Among Us” by Alabama. I listened to it a few times and will continue to do so. The act of love and kindness is what will make this community get through this. God bless!

  • Christine Cobb
    Reply

    Nicole,

    Your post really touched me. I’ve felt so many emotions over this — sorrow, anger, helplessness. Prayer has helped. But reading your post prompted me to make a donation to the Newtown Youth & Family Services organization today because the kids who survived will need so much help.

    I immediately felt uplifted. Thanks.

  • Kathleen Gage
    Reply

    Thank you for your insights Nicole. This is an outstanding post and yes, let’s all do random acts of kindness; today, tomorrow and from here on out.

  • Kate Loving Shenk
    Reply

    I have been sending healing prayer from my heart to Newtown and everywhere else I can think of, all day. I believe in distant healing, and Prayer Prescriptions. They light up the world. I am also snuggling my animals tonight. They bring us to that inner calm which is difficult to attain without them.

  • David Perdew
    Reply

    Nicole –

    What I love about you (and many of the people posting here) is that you don’t wait for a tragedy like this one to practice those random acts of kindness – you do it when no one is looking or others are wailing. It’s a way of life. This tragedy was awful. And I was stunned all day. Somewhat paralyzed by the news. And incredibly angry about the insanity. But with the kindness of folks like those posting here, there’s hope.

    Thanks for posting.

  • Tiffany
    Reply

    Wonderful. I wanted to specifically help in Newton, so I went here: http://www.newtownparentconnection.org and you can donate money OR marketing help, etc. I’m contacting them about both. Great idea, Nicole!

  • The Mom
    Reply

    Thank you for posting this challenge, Nik.

    It’s hard to stay grounded with the thought of the senselessness of this cruel and inhuman act. So many questions. So much anger. So much sorrow.

    Today, a new neighbor moved into the condo across the hall from us. A mom, dad, and little 5 year old boy, cute as a button. My heart stuck in my throat when I saw him. After a few pleasantries, I paused and warned the mom and dad (in front of the boy) that there are people in the area that drive too fast coming into our parking area. Now, I don’t see this as an act of kindness, but more as something I felt compelled to say. I felt fearful. I don’t normally go around warning people about stuff, but this was different. As a matter of fact, I now feel I need to call the condo association and report this fast driver. I don’t want to sit back and HOPE nothing happens. This is so outside my comfort zone… but, maybe that’s where we all need to go to not feel powerless.

    Thanks again, Nik.

  • Donna Cravotta
    Reply

    What a lovely idea……

    Dear friends of mine were separated for a month, I invited their son over for a sleepover so they could have a date night and reconnect. My son has company, I am getting things done and they are having some much needed time alone.

  • Monica
    Reply

    Nicole, thanks for this post. Random acts of kindness are so powerful. I love to go to friend’s houses and do the dishes, clean the floor or whatever I see is needing some random act of kindness 😉 I’ve learnt to be sensible to what they’re hoping someone comes and just do it without asking.

    As it’s very easy to show kindness to the people who you like or love, it’s so hard to show empathy with those who hurt others. I’m focusing on finding opportunities to show kindness to people I dislike. Sooo difficult, but I think the less loved people in the world are the ones that need more love, so they don’t turn to violence to express their insatisfaction.

  • Deb Gallardo
    Reply

    Nicole,

    Your good heart and generous spirit are what endear you to me most. (Well, that and your business savvy.) Thank you for this practical, pro-active advice.

    Love ya’,

    Deb

  • Jeanette Cates
    Reply

    Good for you, Nicole, for taking the lead in this. Some wonderful ideas and outpouring of caring. Let me add a couple more items to the list. Each year the Salvation Army offers a wishing tree, where you can choose the name of a child and provide a Christmas for them. Doing this touches the life of one child in your community who might otherwise have done without. A good way to pay tribute to the children lost in this tragedy.

    A second idea is a year-round need. Foster children move from one home to another, often with all of their belongings in a paper or plastic sack. Your gift of new or used suitcases and backpacks give them a permanent “home” for their belongings. I’ll bet most of us have extra suitcases and backpacks just sitting around. Learn where to donate them in your community.

    Each time we honor a child anywhere we are honoring those lost.

  • Kat Dennis
    Reply

    I agree with you totally. I’ve been frustrated over a lot of what I’ve seen on facebook. I feel right now just letting the families and friends know we care is the only real way to help. Putting blame or getting political is not what they need.
    It is great to remember to help others. It helps them and ourselves.
    Thank you for being so thoughtful 🙂

  • Kelly
    Reply

    I love you Nicole.

    I want to share some kindnesses that were such a light on a dark yesterday.

    Early in the morning I had sent a long newsie email to my list. I asked them at the end to tell me if they like that sort of email with personal updates and all.

    All through the day I received replies of ‘Yes, keep them coming’ and as it turned to night and new responses came in, I treasured each one and thought over and over that it was amazing that anyone would find time to think of me and reply when so much else had to be on their heart.

    My first thought of the morning was for the moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends of the children who died – imaging if that were me. Thankfully I got to hug my five sweet grand nieces and nephews today and honestly, I didn’t want to let go.

    I have the two five year old girls over night and we went to the dollar store. The bell ringer stopped us and asked if the girls would like to ring a bell for a second – they said yes. She asked me if she could give them a s u c k e r and I said yes. The girls were tickled.

    Obviously that gal was practicing acts of kindness… and I wonder if it isn’t because she looks at these beautiful children and thinks of those lost.

    Our world is broken, way down deep – yet there are people who love and care. I thank our God for them – and you.

    I’ll definitely take your challenge and be on the lookout for someone who needs a special act of kindness tomorrow.

  • Paul D. Williams
    Reply

    A positive and loving response – that’s why I love you so much!

    My action was to write an ‘I love you’ note to my little boy. He started it, by giving me his notebook, out of the blue. I just crept in and placed it by his bedside, and he was sleeping soundly, bless him. Time was that I couldn’t creak a floorboard or foot bone without him waking up bolt upright and getting upset, but these days I can make a noise and he doesn’t stir.

    I wonder how long it’ll take him to find the note? 🙂

    Paul

  • Renae
    Reply

    Thanks for this. I started a “no money/5 minute” memorial for the Mothers of the deceased children. If you could spread the word I would really appreciate it. I don’t take donations. It’s just a small gesture from mothers to mothers to make the Connecticut mothers know we love them and won’t forget them. Please see my Comment Luv post to spread the love. (Long time reader and subscriber).

  • Sharon McMillan
    Reply

    Nicole you’re woman following a calling and I’m so glad to know you. Throughout the year our family focuses on activities that we can support to help the most vulnerable among us.

    I love this time of year as it seems everyone is on the same page. Now we have this horrific tragedy that has left us all feeling such pain for the tragic loss of life in Newtown. My faith in humanity was not shaken – especially when I see posts like yours.

    In our Catholic faith we often say we are a people of “hope” – I think we are all that way deep down and we need to tap into it, as you have Nicole.

    Thank you for the challenge – my prayer is that it lasts the entire year so that we might become better at creating a society where these kinds of horrific acts become a thing of the past.

  • Nicole
    Reply

    Thank you, all so very very much for your beautiful words (and more importantly, your actions).

    I feel like, in the fight of good verses evil, we’ve all got a lot of work to do to bring light and hope back into the hearts of so very many. Even more than usual.

    I hope by bringing up others, you find that your own soul is lifted as well.

    Thank you, too, for those who have shared my little blog post. I’m so glad that you found the message worthy.

    I love and appreciate you all.

  • Gail Seignious
    Reply

    Thank you, Nicole!

    In the midst of this horrific tragedy, your act of kindness of sharing “Being A Helper” is appreciated so much. I’m sharing your message today with my children and grandchildren as we can all encourage others and help others with simple acts of kindness, love and prayers.

    I have five grandchildren, and last night as I held my little five year old granddaughter, my heart and prayers were going out to all the families who have lost their precious children, friend, spouse, neighbor, or teacher. As a family, we were planning to talk to the children today about this tragedy and how we can all do something to help… we can all work together to help others in need! Thank you so much!

  • Tishia Lee
    Reply

    Thank you for this challenge Nicole. I’ve been writing down a list of things I want to do for my random acts of kindness. I also want to remember to always be on the lookout every single day for a random act of kindness I can do and not just because we’re being given a challenge. Thank you again for this post/challenge and I love what you said when you said “After a random act of violence, the best thing we each can do is a random act of kindness” – that’s so true and something I needed reminding of!

  • Ashley
    Reply

    I love this post. We really need a lot more people getting involved to help. Not only with this current tragedy, but with all of them. If people only got out and helped we would all be better off.

  • Nancy Johnson
    Reply

    We went to see the holiday light display at the Bellevue (WA) Botanical Gardens with our granddaughters and paid for the couple behind us. Turns out they were visiting from Wisconsin and this was their first time seeing the display. It was an awesome feeling to not only do a RAK, but also give them a taste of Seattle hospitality. 🙂

  • Connie Ragen Green
    Reply

    I have reached out to the Rotary Club of Newtown on behalf of my Rotary Club. At least two of the families have Rotary connections, so this will be an opportunity for us to help in a small way.

  • Debi J
    Reply

    We run across people at nearly every stop we make while we’re working. Today alone on the trip home we gave money to a couple at a rest area who were riding their bikes from northern California to Florida, gas money to a couple at a truck stop, and cash to a teacher on an exit ramp that well, I don’t know why she needed money but we gave her some anyway. Here’s hoping they will all eventually be in a position to pay it forward.

    My son gave cigarettes to a man he ran into at a nearby gas station tonight. He doesn’t normally give people things that might harm them, but he said the guy told him that his wife just left him and took his kids and they gas station people wouldn’t sell him a pack because his license was expired. My son said the man looked like “he was ready to jump off a bridge if at least one thing didn’t go right for him.”

  • Jen Moulton
    Reply

    This is a wonderful blog post…too bad it had to be posted though. It should be in the nature of everyone to want to do random acts of kindness, but we as a nation have gotten so far away from people being relational. We want our independence instead of interdependence. We want to control our own lives instead of asking people for help when we need it. We let our government do what we as a community should be doing. I love that you posted as a reminder, but sad that it must be posted to begin with.

    As for my random act of kindness, yesterday at my church, I spoke with a recovering drug addict, which is way out of my comfort zone! But I also look at him as simply another human being trying to get by the best he can, as we all are in the crazy, chaotic world in which we live.

  • Rachel Rofe
    Reply

    God Nicole, I love everything about this post. Thank you so much for sharing it with me. What a BEAUTIFUL quote from Mr. Rogers, and I love how you tie it into the practical. Everything about this post makes my soul sing. THANK YOU for being you.

  • MJ Schrader
    Reply

    28 lives lost, so I committed myself to 28 acts of kindness.
    For anyone curious about blood donation, I don’t like needles, and I’m 2 pints away from 4 gallons. So don’t be afraid, if you can donate, please do. You can give every 8 weeks, but that’s hard on most people. 10 to 12 weeks is what I’d recommend. It takes 30 to 60 minutes with the mini-physical and actual donation. You can tell them you don’t want to see the needle, and they’ll tell you when to look away. Does it hurt? Sometimes more than others, but not that bad. And when it does… remember you could be saving up to 3 lives.
    Also, offer to buy friends dinner. Someone who never accepts “let’s go out to eat” invites may do so because their budget doesn’t allow it. Or buy them gift cards to restaurants you know they like.
    Thank you Nicole!! You Rock!!

  • Carl
    Reply

    Over the past few days I have questioned why children have to be victims in violent crimes, wars, parental disputes and more. They are innocent at heart and pure. What causes even a mentally disturbed individual to have so much hatred that they would attack innocent children.

    I have grown children of my own and could not imagine ever losing them to such an event at their ages now let alone if they were 6 years old. So I have taken my sadness and turned it into good by being more attentive to the younger children connected to my family and friends. Also I paid attention to the children with their parents at the malls this weekend, seeing them excited about Christmas and enjoyed their smiles and bugging their parents for that special gift.

    I have given so much more thought to what others may be thinking at this time and have opened doors for people with children and without. By extending a helping hand at a time of great sadness will hopefully help others see there still is some good in our challenging world.

  • Danielle
    Reply

    Thanks Nicole for posting this! It’s a good reminder to those on this earth that we are blessed with the opportunity to be of service to mankind, internationally. What affects us here as an effect on those thousands miles away. Many blessings to you and your family this holiday season! Cheers!

  • Kathy
    Reply

    After the events of last week in the US, I believe random acts of kindness are even more important. One thing I love doing is smiling at strangers. Usually I get a smile, sometimes just a twitch, back and I hope that I’ve brightened their day.

    As a family, we get involved with our small community. We volunteer our time and expertise and belong to various organizations, often in executive positions. To us community is second only to family. With a strong community, the place we live in becomes vibrant and friendly. Without it, the town becomes a sad and lonely place.

  • Philip Alex
    Reply

    Hi Nicole,

    Your post got to me, I always get emotional when I read these personal posts that people share on their blogs. Tragedies can strike when you least expect it and it makes all the difference in the world to have someone by your side.

    It’s funny, but just a couple of days ago a lady came at my door with a story about two little children with hemophilia which is a terrible disease. She was a children’s book writer and went from door to door to help those two little boys. I’m glad I had the chance to contribute with something.

    Thank you so much for writing this most, I really enjoyed reading it.

    Take care Nicole and all the best to you and your family.

    ~Philip

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