On Saturday we held a compassion cell event called Random Acts of Kindness Day. About 20 volunteers who participated in this event formed quickly into four smaller teams all armed with their kindness assignments. Two teams were assigned the job of handing out bottles of waters and packets of snacks at parks in Brea and Orange, another team was assigned the job of helping grocery store shoppers with their carts of food and my group was assigned washing car windows in Newport Beach. We headed to our car equipped with the necessary tools of Windex, paper towels, kindness and of course SMILE cards.
We drove off winding down the 55 onto the Pacific Coast Highway and decided upon a Chevron station near Fashion Island. As cars pulled in we realized this might be a little more difficult than we had anticipated, at least half the cars entering the station were spotlessly clean. Offering to clean the windows of these cars was pointless. So we decided to hand out the smile cards to those who had clean windows and we washed the windows and passed out smile cards to the cars in need of a window cleaning. One of our first customers was a light blue, mini, euro car filled with four passengers. After extending the offer to wash the windows of this car the woman driverâ€™s face lit up with a lovely smile and she answered, â€œyes that would be wonderful!â€ She told me her passengers were all visiting from Europe. I handed three more smile cards to her and asked her to explain the task of passing the kindness on. She grinned again, thanked us and said she would. Quickly following this encounter, another woman pulled up and looking extremely harried, darting out of her car and quickly stepping to the back of her car. She seemed to be trying to avoid us but I approached her anyway. I asked her if she would like her windows washed, she looked up and said she was really more concerned with her tire. As we peered around the back of the car to look at the tire we realized her tire was completely flat. So Ganesh, thinking quickly on his feet, went into the small store attached to the station and bought a can of Fix a Flat. He generously offered to pump up the tire and fill it with the contents of the can so that the car could be driven safely to the tire store. In a lovely southern drawl the woman thanked him profusely and was on her way â€“ dirty windows still but with a tire that would now get her to her destination.
This is how our task embraced us. It was so amazing our offers of simple kindness brought the warmest, brightest smiles to the people who we touched and who touched us in return. We received so many words of gratitude, which we accepted gratefully, among a few offers of money, which we quickly turned down. We asked them instead to continue to pass the kindness onto to those strangers they would meet. My team was still brimming with energy by the end of this event and when we returned to the warehouse they continued to clean the car windows of other volunteers. It was a really wonderful way to start the day and I think that the lesson learned was that in giving we receive!
I have found that among its other benefits giving liberates the soul of the giver.â€“ Maya Angelou