Three hundred and six

Before I go into my end of month post, it’s your last chance to suggest something for my last month!  Either go on the Suggest My Last Month page and comment a suggestion, or message me personally an idea.  On Friday I will be posting the top five ideas (both interesting to do and interesting to write about every day for a month) which you can then vote for to see what I will be doing in February.

I made it through Good Deed month!

Yesterday I was working and serving a very nice couple.  I decided to pay for one round of their drinks when the bill came.  I really wanted it to be a random act of kindness, so when I brought them their bill I told them an anonymous table of people bought them their drinks, as a nice gesture.  However, the gesture only works if they don’t know who bought the drinks for them.  The couple was a little confused at first, but then were touched.  They told me to thank the strangers after they left and to let them know that they would pay it forward.

If this month represents anything to me, it’s the hope that all of the good deeds I’ve done will inspire people to also do good deeds.  And for every good deed they do, hopefully those people will pay it forward too.  (There’s a whole Pay It Forward movement, based on the book by Catherine Ryan Hyde.  There is also a Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.)  Hopefully this ripple effect will stay in the minds of those who it’s touched and next time they are on the subway and a man with crutches walks by, they will offer their seat up.  We might not be able to change the world, but this month has taught me we can all make a difference in one person’s life by doing very simple things.  Sometimes it’s the little things that count.

Recap of the month

There have been some majors ups and downs this month, including a few very personal posts (and comments) that my one friend described as: “I felt awkward, but I couldn’t stop reading.  It was like I was reading your personal journal or the thoughts the world is not supposed to hear”.  But I definitely came out on top of it all.  Here are a few of the things I did and a few of the things I learned:

What did I learn?

I went through a few learning curves this month.  I’d like to describe myself as a kind, generous person, a good friend and someone who would give up her seat on the streetcar to a pregnant lady.  And I am all of those things.  But I also saw how much more I could be doing.  Although difficult to find at times, every opportunity for me to help other people made me feel amazing.  It inspired me to do more.  It made me aware of every chance I had to make another’s life a little easier.  It opened my eyes to the people in need I don’t see that are right in front of me.

I had a hard time writing about doing good deeds because at times I thought it might take away the value of them – that somehow they weren’t as nice if I said them out loud.  I understand why people say that and might think that, but I disagree.  If you do something nice for someone, it is just as nice if it is a secret as if you tell other people what you’ve done.  I’d even go so far as to say that if you do a good deed you should tell everyone you can.  Hopefully it will inspire them to go out and do something nice for someone else.

Finally, I learned that although donating money is amazing and needed badly by many charitable organizations, being on the front lines (volunteering, etc) is where you really feel connected to the project and will affect you the most personally.  If you’re wanting to do good deeds to make yourself feel good (and I absolutely do not see anything wrong with that, as long as you are genuinely doing good), do something that requires you to “get your hands dirty” and be involved.  Good deeds give you a high like no other and a place and belonging in your community – you feel physically great helping other people (or animals, or the environment).

Where do I go from here with Good Deeds?

I am so excited to start a regular volunteer project in the new year.  It’s in the works (very early stages of planning), but a friend of mine and I are going to start volunteering regularly together as a New Years Resolution for him and a continuation of this month for me.  I will also be making an effort this year to keep doing at least one good deed a day – some days simple things and some days more complex.  I am inspired.

Tomorrow starts Life at the Poverty Line.  Hopefully I still remember how to use my extreme couponing skills…

Three hundred and five

I’m still working on the random good deeds for strangers, but I wanted to share a story from my friend Sarah, for those of you who don’t read comments on the blog:

“I was on my way to work on the Subway in Toronto and there was some electrical problem and all the subway cars had to stop until it was resolved. I’m pregnant and look it. I was standing with my laptop bag and bagged lunched. As we waited I started to overheat as pregnant women tend to do. So, I took off my coat and scarf…so there was no debating I was pregnant not just wearing a bulking coat. We were waiting 20 minutes and not one person got up to give me their seat. Now, I just moved back to TO from Shanghai. Their subway system is a lot more busy then ours and as soon as I walked on the subway someone would get up and give their seat, without hesitation, within seconds. In their society it’s expected to give seats to mothers with small children, elderly, handicapped and pregnant women. I don’t think it’s even considered a good deed, just expected. I was fine and didn’t really care, but seeing the contrast was an interesting observation for me. I shared my experience with my husband and he told me that he gave his seat to a man with crutches on the street car and the man thanked him and then told him he was the first person that had done that since he got crutches.
The measure of civilization/society is how they treat their weakest members.
– H.E. Javier Perez de Cuellar.
I wonder how Torontonians would measure up?”

That is absolutely horrible!  I can’t even believe this.  For all you as_holes out there not giving up your seat for pregnant women and injured people, I am absolutely disgusted.  I really am.  I’m surprised too.  I knew Torontonians were selfish at times as a whole, but that is just too much.  Who are these people?!

If you need a little hope that some people are kind and generous after reading this, check out this website:  It’s a place where people can share their good deeds with the world and you can read about good deeds of other people.  Their vision is “to initiate and encourage an ongoing snowball effect of good deeds.”  If you need a pick me up and renewed faith in humanity, spend a few minutes on this site.  And it might inspire you to do more good deeds yourself!

Three hundred and four

Secret and not-so secret good deeds to strangers

Last year I was in a store in the States buying something and the man in front of me needed around $10 to complete payment for his layaway (it was a child’s toy).  He couldn’t get money out of the ATM and the cashier was trying to be patient, but the line was getting longer and longer.  I offered to pay the $10 he needed.  He got really angry at me, told me that he would never accept it and stormed off to find his wife to see if she had the $10 he needed.  The clerk processed my payment while he was gone, and I left the $5 extra for the man with the cashier.  He obviously needed the money and it was for his child.  It was $10.  But I’m sure he probably got really mad when he found out what I did.  I’m not sure if I should have left it, as I knew his position, but I did anyways.  I know it is a pride issue, but no one else had to know.

A lot of people hate to ask for help and some won’t accept help (or a ‘hand-out’ as some people call it) even if they need it.  However, communities for hundreds of years have helped each other out and worked as a communal group to survive and thrive.  As I said in my “science of good deeds” post, communities evolve by helping each other.  Those with more should help out those with less.

Unfortunately we live in a world where the richer get richer and the poor get poorer in a lot of circumstances.  Also unfortunately, there are those that take advantage of the kindness of others, which often makes people cynical over doing good deeds themselves, or won’t accept the help for fear of being grouped in with these people.

Tonight and tomorrow my plan is to find good deeds I can do for strangers and see how they react.  Who can I buy a coffee for?  Can I give up my seat on the streetcar?  Open a door for mom and her stroller?  Hopefully the world and particularly the city of Toronto is not a corrupted as I’m letting my mind runaway with and think it is.  Hopefully there are more good, giving, gracious people out there than there are selfish, greedy ones.

Three hundred and three

Give blood

My friend Clark Kim giving blood yesterday. The nurse encouraged him to put the photo on Facebook to get more people out to give blood. He also let me use it for the post. Click on the photo to go to Clark's blog on

It’s a scary thought, giving blood.  That needle.  The light-headed feeling you get when you worry too much about something.  But approximately every minute of every day someone in Canada needs blood.  And 1 in every 2 of us are eligible to give our blood to help those  people.  It only takes an hour out of your time (from start to finish – the actual collecting of 1 unit/450 mL of blood takes only 15 minutes), costs you nothing, and you can save lives.  Unfortunately only 4% of eligible donors actually do give blood.  And a large segment of the most loyal donors will soon go from being at the age of giving blood, to needing it.

It’s really easy to do it, too.  You go online to the Canadian Blood Services website or call 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283) to book an appointment.  You show up at your designated donation centre and your finger is pricked to test if your iron levels are high enough to donate.  Then you fill out a questionnaire to see if you are eligible, meet with a staff member and have your blood pressure and temperature taken.  Then you have the needle inserted (only a prick – it doesn’t hurt), sit for fifteen minutes giving blood, then you’re done!  That’s it.  You can find out more details about the steps and whether you are eligible on the website.

Think of it – fifty donations of blood are needed on average for serious car accident victims.  You or someone you love could need blood.  It’s worth taking the few minutes to see if you are able to give blood and then the hour out of your day to do it.  That is an amazing good deed.

I was supposed to give blood today.  I booked my appointment, made sure I was off work, and arranged transportation.  Unfortunately I have this damn cough that won’t go away.  I called them last night to see whether I could still give blood with the tickle in my throat.  They said it’s best to wait for a full recovery and re-booked me for next Wednesday.  I wanted to write about my personal experience, but alas, that will have to wait for another day.  I decided to still write about it today, though, because I think it’s an awesome good deed that doesn’t require money or even a lot of time or commitment .

So look up the Canadian Blood Services website right now (or the equivalent in your country, if you’re not in Canada).  It’s in you to give.

Three hundred and two

Walking dogs at the SPCA

Jaxx - one of the cute dogs we walked (who is up for adoption) at the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA

It breaks my heart every time I go to help my mom volunteer at the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA.  I want to take all the animals home and give them love and discipline and a home so they’re not stuck in a cage for weeks at a time.  Why do people abandon their puppies?  It’s your own fault they aren’t obedient!  It was your job to teach them that!  And those poor animals that are taken from their homes because of animal cruelty charges.  There are some horrible people out there.

My mother has been volunteering at the SPCA for over five years now.  She is a dog walker.  She takes the dogs for a walk, lets them run around in the off-leash park, gives them a chance to pee and poo, get some exercise, attention, and love.  She volunteers for two hours a week and takes out three dogs during this time.  Every once and awhile one of her friends, family members or I will join her.  She loves it and gets a lot out of it.  She has gotten to know the other dog walkers and the dogs that come and go – some gone quickly, some stay there for weeks or even months.  She has always wanted a dog, but because dad and her travel a lot, it’s not the right time to get one.  So this is her fix every week.

It was raining and cold today when we went (spitting at first, then a light rain at the end).  My mom laughed at my winter hat, mittens, hood, scarf and knee-length jacket.  “I do this in worse weather than this!”  she said.  It was pretty uncomfortable near the end.  But every second of the cold and wet was worth the joy on the dogs’ faces when we played with them, threw them the ball, cuddled them, and ran with them.  One in particular was so cute, I just wanted to take him home right there (every time I go, there’s always a dog I want to take home).  It was so great to help at the SPCA, but it always breaks my heart to put them back in their cage and walk off.  Hopefully they will all find happy, loving homes.  And hopefully people will stop getting a dog, not training it, not giving it the time, love and attention it needs, then giving it back when it’s too hard to handle.