Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 305: Trick Or Treated For UNICEF

Sung in the tune of "Monster Mash"
I was sitting on my couch late one day,
And I got an idea while I watched Isla play.
It'd be a way to make kindness arise,
And suddenly, to my wife's surprise...

I did some acts.
I did some random acts.
(Some random acts.)
It was a kindness smash.
(Some random acts.)
It caught on in a flash.
(Some random acts.)
A year of random acts

Halloween is here!  I am a huge fan of this holiday, and always look forward to seeing awesomely creative costumes.  As I previously stated, I will be going as a cocoon to my wife's catepillar and Isla's butterfly, so if you are in Chicago, keep a look out for The Very Hungry Catepillar clan.  Isla only has a few teeth, so we aren't really planning on her eating a bunch of candy.  However, she still needs to trick or treat because...well it is Halloween and every kid should trick or treat.  We thought we should try to tie a random act into Halloween and my wife discovered a tremendous way to tie in kindness and trick or treating.  For over 60 years, UNICEF has run its' Trick or Treat for UNICEF program, that has children all over the country using Halloween as a way to raise funds for the less fortunate rather than raise the amount of cavities.  So today, for our random act of kindness, my family and I will be trick or treating for UNICEF.  The funds raised go to those in need all around the world in the forms of medicine, mosquito nets, food, and other things that help others survive.  In a way to get you all in the mood for Halloween festivities, I leave you with a classic...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 304: Read A Scary Story To Kids

Halloween is tomorrow and I can't wait because it is really the first Halloween that we can take Isla out Trick Or Treating (she was too small last year).  Lindsey, Isla, and I are going as characters from the seminal children's classic, The Very Hungry Catepillar.  I got stuck being the cocoon.  My costume makes it so I can't leave their side or else people will think I am a giant poop.  If I had it my way, we were going to be Kim (Isla), Kourtney (Lindsey), and Khloe (Me) Kardashian and call ourselves The Gar-dashians (I did however, gain creative freedom over our holiday cards this year by giving in).

It has become a Halloween time tradition for me to visit my wife's classroom early in the morning before class starts and read her students a story.  They usually get pretty excited when I show up, but it is probably because my being there gets them out of having to start class on time.  I really look forward to interacting with the kids, and sharing with them one of my favorite Halloween books, When A Monster Is Born.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I read a scary story to my wife's classroom.  Another tradition that I adhere to, as learned by the movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, is to convince the students that I was one time bitten on the neck by a monster.  I then ask them if they would like to see the scars, and when they all gather around me, I scream "YAHHHH" and scare them.

I also want to say that my family's thoughts are with everyone in the east that has been affected by Hurricane Sandy.  If you would like to make a donation to the Red Cross Relief Efforts, you can do so here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 303: Shared A Post

A few times over the past year and a half, my wife has utilized a tremendous website that helps her provide her students with the best education possible.  Donors Choose is an online charity website that allows teachers to raise funds for different classroom projects, supplies, or other educational materials.  Most recently, my wife had a donation project set up to provide the students in her classroom, many of whom are minorities, with books that relate directly to them.  Donors Choose has helped my wife a bunch, and it is an organization that I love to support.  While messing around on Facebook in a doctor's office this morning, I saw a friend who shared a post from DirecTV.  After reading a little further, I learned that between now and November 5th, if the post gets shared 100,000 times, DirecTV will donate $100,000 to Donors Choose.  I did a little research first to make sure it is legitimate (there are a ton of fake "Share This" posts out there), and I am happy to report that it is.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I shared a post to help raise money for Donors Choose.  It is something that is so easy, and can have a huge impact. Please join me in going to this site and sharing the post!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day 302: Made A "Welcome Home" Dessert For My Ladies

My ladies have been out of town since Thursday, but I am soon heading to the airport to get them.  I will definitely say on record that living the bachelor life is no longer as appealing to me as it once was.  The amount of carbs and quick meals that I ingest when Lindsey is out of town goes up tenfold.  I probably looked at pictures of Lindsey and Isla about 1000 times this weekend, and cannot wait until their flight lands.  Typically when I return home from a trip out of town, Lindsey has put together some sort of sweet concoction for me to enjoy upon my arrival.  I figured that I would try my hand at welcoming her and Isla home with some deliciousness myself.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I made a "welcome home" dessert for my ladies.  When we arrive home, they will get to enjoy a delicious cinnamon chip applesauce coffee cake!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Day 301: Pulled A Truck & Bought Lunch For Friends

Today, there are two random acts for the price of one.  A kindness combo, if you will.  What better place to start out a combo than at a place known for them; McDonald's headquarters.  While the fast food addict in me thinks of Big Macs, Chicken McNuggets, and fries when McDonald's is brought up, the kindness part of me thinks about Ronald McDonald House.  In February, I met (via email) a woman named Mardelle who works for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.  Mardelle and I have been in touch on and off for the past few months, and recently she asked if I would be interested in joining her at one of their upcoming charity events, Pulling For The House.  Pulling For The House is a unique fundraiser where teams of 12 compete to pull a semi-truck (yes, a semi-truck) faster than all the other teams.  With a bad back, I wasn't too sure how much I could add to the team, but any chance to help a cause like Ronald McDonald House, I am taking.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I pulled a truck to help raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities.  I hope I don't throw my back out because...

11 years ago, friends of mine were scattered about at the different universities we attended.  It was weird not seeing each other after hanging out with each other almost daily for so many years.  One weekend, a handful of us decided to meet up at the University of Illinois for a weekend of partying and catching up.  A few of us had joined fraternities at our given schools, so we came up with the idea to start our own fraternity among our diaspora of friends.  Our fraternity would gather together once a year, no matter where everyone was.  It was to be something that would ensure that no matter how far apart we grow geographically, we would always have that one day to converge on a given locale to celebrate our fraternal bond.  And on that day, in an apartment on U of I's campus, Mu Alpha Nu and MANFest were born.  As a founding father, I wanted to do something for all of my friends.  I called my friend Manolis from America's Dog who helped me pass out hot dogs during my appearance on The Steve Harvey Show.  He said he would help me put together an order large enough to satiate the hungers of 25+ grown men.  So today, for the second half of my random act of kindness two-fer, I bought lunch for my friends.  Mu Mu Mu, Mu Alpha Nu.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 300: Wrote A Facebook Message

Today is Day 300; a milestone date for 366 Random Acts of Kindness.  Today is also my father-in-law's birthday.  He would have been 61 years told.  For those that haven't been following the blog all year, we lost my wife's father to complications from lung cancer back in February.  Although he wasn't my own father, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about him.  When I started these random acts, it was to set a positive example for my daughter, and to create something that my daughter could one day be proud of and hopefully emulate.  If these acts can be even a small iota of the example that John was for Lindsey and her brothers, then I would be proud of that.  I will do everything in my power to be as great to Lindsey and Isla as he was to his family.  I wish I could have said it in person, but today, for my random act of kindness, I wrote a Facebook message on John's wall wishing him a happy birthday.  It may seem weird to some of you, and you may wonder how it is a random act, but I know somewhere John got a little Facebook notification and read my message.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day 299: Shared An Instructional Video

Although breast cancer is mostly predominant among women, men are also afflicted with this disease.  1 in every 1000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lives.  The symptoms of breast cancer in men is the exact same as women, but rarely do men think of breast cancer or associate their symptoms with it.  Because of this, when breast cancer is diagnosed in men, it is typically in its' later, much more vicious stages.  To be completely honest, I never knew the incidence of breast cancer in men was so high, and I also didn't know that men are supposed to do monthly self breast exams.  I assume that I am not the only guy out there who has never given themselves a self breast exam, let alone even thought to do one.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am sharing the above instructional video for the guys out there (and for those ladies that don't perform exams).  After I post this act, I am immediately performing one myself.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day 298: Bought A Pink Hat

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with professional wrestling.  I knew every guy from superstars like Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage all the way down to "jobbers" like the Brooklyn Brawler.  I practiced wrestling moves with my friends and had aspirations to one day be a "bad guy" manager known for my propensity to cheat to help my guy win (I was an odd child).  As I grew older, I realized that it was just a pipe dream of mine and that I would never get the chance to get slammed in the middle of the ring by the likes of the Ultimate Warrior.  However, just because I wasn't going to be a WWE Superstar didn't mean that I was going to stop watching professional wrestling.  Yes, I, a nearly 31 year old man with a wife and child, am admitting to the world that I still religiously watch wrestling every week.  I have also had the opportunity to see some big time Pay Per View events live and in person. 

The reason that I have had the opportunity to go to these shows is because my friend Jared's mother, Laufullia, has invited me to go with her, Jared, and Jared's brother, Adam, numerous times.  If you want to see a grown man look like a kid on Christmas morning, just find me when I get the call that she has invited me to go watch wrestling.  If you have never seen a wrestling event live, let me tell you, it is a whole other animal than watching on TV.  These guys are some of the biggest, strongest people you will ever see in person.  However, even when we are in the arena watching these wrestling superstars, I know that their strength pales in comparison to the strength that Laufullia has shown because she is a two time survivor of breast cancer.  I knew when I decided to dedicate this week to breast cancer awareness that I wanted to do a random act for her, but I wasn't sure exactly what to do.  Then it clicked.  I could do something that connected breast cancer awareness with professional wrestling! John Cena, one of WWE's top superstars, has come out with a line of pink shirts and accessories that they are selling on and at live events.  100% of the proceeds from the sale of these products goes to the Susan G. Komen Foundation to help eradicate breast cancer.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I bought the above pink hat for Lufullia.  Not only is it a small token of gratitude for taking me to events, but it is a way to let her know that she is an inspiration and beacon of strength for myself and others.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 297: Drank Amy's Blend

Before my daughter was born, I was not a coffee drinker.  Sure, I would have the occasional 700 calorie blended frappaccino from Starbucks from time to time, but I have never owned my own coffee pot nor was a cup o' joe in my daily routine.  However, soon after Isla was born, I needed that boost in the morning after the every 2 hour feedings that a newborn requires.  I haven't stopped drinking coffee since (though I am slowly weening myself off of it).  My wife is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.  Since high school, she always had at least one cup of coffee to start her day, and if she didn't get it, you better watch out.  So you could imagine what it was like for my wife to go an entire 9 pregnant months without coffee in her life.  As you can probably guess, we usually have coffee stocked and ready in our cupboard.

Amy Erickson was a former roastmaster for Caribou Coffee who sadly succumbed to breast cancer in 1995 at the young age of 33.  As described by the Caribou website, Amy "was loved by those around her because her enthusiasm was contagious." Annually during Breast Cancer Awareness Month since 2006, the fine folks at Caribou have released Amy's Blend, a batch of coffee made to represent and honor Amy.  Caribou donates 10% of every purchase of Amy's Blend coffee to CancerCare, a non-profit support group dedicated to help those who are afflicted with cancer and also their families.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I purchased a bag of Amy's Blend and drank it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Day 296: Bought An Energy Shot

I have decided to dedicate this week to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  For the next few days, each of my random acts will revolve around raising funds or awareness for this terrible disease that affects 1 in every 8 women in their lifetimes (and let's not overlook the fact that 1 out of every 1000 men are affected as well).  There are so many great random acts that you can do for breast cancer (and other cancers), so I want to use this forum to display some of those.

I am extremely tired today.  Between back pain keeping me up all night and the dreary, rainy weather, I feel like I need a nap.  I know that I can't take a nap though because there are doctors and patients out there who are in need of my ZocDoc expertise.  I've already slammed a few coffees today, but it just isn't doing the job, so I needed something more.  I swung by 7-11 so that I could grab an energy drink of some sort.  This was I could power through the day on some artificial adrenaline. When I got to the aisle full of energy shots, I noticed a bright pink display.  5 Hour Energy recently launched a new flavor (pink lemonade) with a plan to give 5 cents of every sale to the Avon Foundation for Women whose goal is to eliminate breast cancer.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I bought an energy shot and partially donated to breast cancer research.  It is small promotions of kindness and donation that are out there that I really hope to shine a spotlight on. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 295: Let Someone Go Ahead Of Me At The Grocery Store

Maybe I am weird, but I really enjoy going grocery shopping.  Especially when I get to take Isla with me and she sits in the cart pointing things out like she knows what is on the list.  She has always been really good when we go to the store, and hasn't had a public meltdown yet (you can't see me but I am currently knocking on wood).  My wife needed some time this afternoon to herself in order to get progress reports for her students done, so Isla and I hopped in the car and headed over to our local Trader Joe's.  Our Trader Joe's is typically extremely busy being that it is in the middle of Chicago, but today, it was crazier than ever.  I'm not sure if a new version of Y2K is happening or if there is an impending shortage on Trader Joe's Orange Chicken, but we were packed in there like sardines.  After navigating the grocery store version of a mosh pit for about 30 minutes, I had finally gotten everything that I needed.  I got in the shortest, non-15 items or less line that I could find and started to play with Isla.  A few seconds after I had gotten in line, I noticed that the young woman behind me only had a bag of chips and salsa in her hand, while I was sitting there with a completely full cart.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I let the woman with only a few items go ahead of me at the grocery store.  I'm not trying to pat my own back, but I wish that everyone would do this more often.  In most cases, you are only losing out on about a minute and you are showing another person genuine kindness.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day 294: Sweetest Day Surprise

I've documented on this blog before how insane of a sweet tooth my wife has.  I get a toothache just watching her candy eating habits.  Mary Poppins once offered her a spoonful of sugar and she ate the entire jar.  Hyperbole aside, even if my wife didn't eat as much candy as she does, she would still be the sweetest person that I have ever met.  With today being Sweetest Day, Isla and I decided that we wanted to do something for Lindsey.  What better day than Sweetest Day to make her sucrose dreams come true than a trip to the candy store.  So today, for our random act of kindness, Isla and I made Lindsey a Sweetest Day card and are taking her on a surprise trip to Dulcelandia (Candy Land) so that she can bask in sweet sugary goodness. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day 293: Brought Hair Bows To The Children's Hospital

Soon after my daughter's birth, my wife became obsessed with putting hair bows and head bands on Isla.  To this day, it is a rarity that my daughter doesn't have some sort of accoutrement on her head, and she typically keeps them on for at least 5 minutes.  She has one that she has outgrown that was a green flower that was so big, it looked like we strapped a head of cabbage to her head.  Actually here it is...

Fueling my wife's bow addiction is my cousin Stephanie who creates custom accessories for girls through her company, Little Gem and Hair Delights.  Stephanie recently donated a number of her custom hair accessories so that I could use them for one of my random acts.  I wasn't surprised at all when she offered to donate them because she and my cousin Chad are big into giving back to others (Chad is a muskie guide and takes out returning veterans for all-expense paid fishing trips on what was called Operation Muskie).   I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them, so I reached out to the donations department at the brand new Lurie Children's Hospital.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I brought hair bows, headbands and hats to the children's hospital.  I wanted to donate the accessories specifically to the little girls in the NICU and the cancer department.  I know it can't cure the girls of whatever ails them, but hopefully it puts a smile on their (and their parents) faces.  Thank you so much to my cousin Stephanie, this was an act that was all made possible because of her generosity. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 292: Filled Up A Shoebox With Gifts

It doesn't matter if it is December 26th, the middle of summer or the start of fall, I listen to Christmas music year round.  There is just something about jingling bells that puts me in a happy mood, so if that happens when it is 100 degrees outside, so be it.  I love the holidays and start getting really excited when I see the first commercial hawking presents on television (congrats Target, you were this year's winner).   Christmas creep seems to be happening earlier and earlier every year, and you will not find any complaints from my end.  Well today while perusing Facebook while sitting in a doctor's office, I saw a post by my cousin-in-law (is that a thing?) Taylor that really got me excited for the holiday season.  Taylor currently lives in Grenada with her husband, Greg, and she volunteers for a group called Limes which provides after-school programs for the underprivileged children of the island.  Taylor's post today highlighted a program that Limes is putting together for those children; Operation Grenada Child: A Christmas To Remember.  From now until November 15th, they are collecting shoeboxes filled with toys to pass out to the children for the holidays.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am filling up a shoebox with gifts for one of the children (though because I read the post to late, I can't send it until tomorrow).  If you are looking for a great way to celebrate the holiday season while helping out others, this is the first of many that you can join me on!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Day 291: Cleaned Up A Spill

Without out fail, if I am out at a nice restaurant, I will spill a beverage of some sort on a table.  I am somewhat of a bull in a china shop anyway, but put me in an upscale restaurant and there are sure to be spills.  So I completely understand the embarrassment that comes with spilling a drink in public, especially when the wait staff/employees have to come and clean up your dirty work.  I kept this embarrassment in mind today when I saw an elderly woman at a local Au Bon Pain spill an entire soft drink on her table, and subsequently the floor.  I immediately ran over to the condiment stand and grabbed a handful of napkins.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I cleaned up a spill for the woman and made small talk with her while I did it.  It isn't the biggest gesture in the world, but it is an impromptu random act of kindness that shows even small acts can be helpful.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 290: Did My Part To Give Jasmin The Gift Of Independence

I am not a very independent person.  I've always had my own thoughts, opinions, and have always been particular about the way things are done, but I have never lived by myself and I have always relied on the women in my life (Mom, Sister, Wife) for so many different things.  Whenever I am home alone, that usually only lasts a few minutes before I go to someone's house to hang out.  I think I have a deep seeded fear of being lonely and bored, and so therefore, I am pretty dependent on having someone around me at all times regardless of if it is a friend or stranger.  So for me, independence is something that I feel I should strive for because it will help me to grow as a person.  I have always had the ability to increase my independence, so when I see someone who is fighting to gain their own, it really reminds me not to take it for granted.

On October 6th, I received a Facebook message from a teacher in Connecticut.  She told me about an incredible former student of hers who, in spite of a debilitating condition, is a top student, hard worker, and always has a positive outlook on life.  At 5 1/2 years old, Jasmin Floyd was diagnosed with a rare bone disease called Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (or FOP).  FOP is a disease which causes Jasmin's muscles to turn into bone, slowly creating a second skeleton.  Because of her FOP, Jasmin has lost movement in her neck, arms and legs in addition to also suffering from decreased lung capacity, chronic pain, and scoliosis.  Despite all of this, Jasmin feels as though she was given this disease to prove that she could overcome it.  Jasmin wants to continue to gain independence for herself, and is in need of both medical supplies and supplies for school (she is currently attending college) in order to achieve that.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I did my part to give Jasmin the gift of independence by giving a small donation to her.  When I see someone who was dealt a tough hand, but doesn't allow it to define her, it inspires me to be a better person.  If you would like to help Jasmin's cause, you can do so here.  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 289: Gave The Wife A Footrub

For some reason I tried to post this 2,3,4 5 different times today and it wouldn't work for some reason.  I guess it is for the better because then this will be more of a surprise for my wife.  She is up walking around all day as a teacher, so her feet are usually in a lot of pain when she gets home from work.  She is in even more pain than usual this week as she is recovering from minor surgery to remove a cyst from her back (everything is ok thankfully!).  As her one and only, I feel as though it is my husbandly duty to help relieve some of that pain with the occasional foot/back/neck rub.  When I started to think about it, I realized that I haven't really been keeping up with those rubs.  So tonight, for my random act of kindness, I am giving my wife a footrub.  I might even get a little crazy and use lotion (truth be told, I would use the lotion because sometimes being on her feet all day gives my wife a little bit of the stinky hobbit foot (she will now proceed to kill me for typing this (if you're keeping count, I have just successfully used parentheses within parentheses within parentheses.  MLA Handbook be damned!!))). 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 288: Attempted To Help A Friend Hang Doors

I am not a handyman.  I have never built anything of significance.  Assembling an IKEA dresser is the extent of my craftsmanship.  To really drive home the point that I am not an amateur Bob Vila; when my wife and I moved in together, she was the one who had the only power drill.  I am trying, however, to improve this aspect of my life.  When people are building something, or need help constructing something, I try to volunteer to help as much as I can.  That is why I jumped at the chance to help my friend Andrew when he said that he needed some assistance hanging up new doors in his place.  I jumped in my car and drove over to his house, and we got to work.  However, after over an hour and a half of work, we hung one door unevenly and couldn't figure out why another door wouldn't close flush.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I "attempted" to help a friend hang doors in his house.  We determined (or at least told ourselves) that the door was too wide for the old frame, so it may be that there was nothing we could do. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 287: Passed A Football

I've never been a guy with connections.  I couldn't get someone tickets to a game for free.  I wasn't able to pick up the phone and get somebody in to a high end restaurant.  The biggest reason for this was the fact that I always felt weird asking for hookups, so I just never did.  But when I started 366 Random Acts, I told myself that there is nothing wrong with at least asking people for help if it is going to help do something for others.  The first time I tried this was on Day 18 when I wanted to give my building's doorman, Adam, tickets to see his hometown Buffalo Sabres play the Blackhawks here in Chicago.  A friend I have known for pretty much my entire life, Stephanie Sims, was so quick to respond and say that she wanted to donate tickets.  Needless to say, I was so thankful (and so was Adam) and it made me feel comfortable reaching out to people for help.

In 2009, I started a new job at Paychex selling payroll for small businesses.  I was sent to Rochester, NY for 2 weeks to get trained because I had absolutely no idea about payroll taxes.  While there, I met Jon Rawson.  Jon and I quickly hit it off, mostly due to the fact that the Bulls were playing the Celtics (Jon is from Worcester, MA) in the playoffs, so we spent our nights in Rochester watching games.  In just a few short days of knowing him and hearing his stories, I could tell that Jon was a stand up, loyal guy whose family and friends meant the world to him.  That's why I wasn't surprised in the least when I saw Jon post on Facebook that he was trying to help raise money for his friend Charlie, who suddenly collapsed during a race in August, and his been struggling for his life since.  Charlies family has set up a website in order to help raise funds for all of the medical bills that they will be facing on Charlie's road to recovery.

So why did I mention utilizing connections at the beginning of this post?  Well, I helped utilize connections for something that will either help Charlie and his family raise a great amount of money towards his recovery, or give him something to cherish when he wakes up. Being a native New Englander, Charlie is a gigantic New England Patriots fan. Rob Ninkovich of the Patriots just so happens to be a Chicagoan (and former member of the powerhouse that was the South Holland Jets). I reached out to Rob's sister, Laura, and asked if he could help in any way. She was more than happy to reach out to Rob (in the midst of the NFL season, mind you) and he and his wife sent over an autographed football for Charlie. So today, for my random act of kindness, I passed the football over to Jon who is going to either auction off the football or hand it to Charlie when he wakes up.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Day 286: Spread The Joy Of Reading

As of late, Isla has become obsessed with books.  They have replaced her stuffed piglet as the go to item to drag around the house while she crawls.  If you find yourself sitting on the floor at our house, it is only a matter of time before she hands you a book and sits in your lap for a quick reading session.  You can imagine how excited my wife, a teacher, is by the fact that Isla has taken such a liking to books.  I can't say that I am adverse to it either because this will really help her be the first ever astrophysicist/supermodel/two-sport Olympian.  I see how much joy Isla gets from reading and it is something that I wish every child around the world could have.  However, I know how difficult it is sometimes for children to have access to books.  That is why I am so happy that my wife showed me an article in Parents Magazine about First Book.  First Book's mission is to provide books and other educational reading materials to low-income families in the United States and Canada, FREE OF CHARGE!  To date, First Book has donated over 90 Million books and educational resources.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I spread the joy of reading by donating to First Book.  $10 results in 4 books for low-income families who otherwise couldn't afford them, so that they can experience their little ones coming to read in their laps.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 285: Tried To Give An Inspiring Speech

Today I was in awe of the people around me.  Today I met people who, in the matter of just a few minutes of speaking, reinvigorated my commitment to these random acts (I guess my commitment didn't need reinvigorating.  Let's just say the added some vigorating to my existing invigoration.  I am sorry you just read this jumbly little blurb).  Today I saw people who were instigators.  Not instigators in the traditional, negative sense of the word, but people who are instigating positive change in the world around them.  There was Lilly Ledbetter.  A woman who saw that she wasn't being treated as fairly as her male peers, so she decided to do something about it all the way to getting a federal bill passed in her name.  There was Zach Wahls who became an internet sensation simply for standing up for the right for his two mothers to be married.  Stephen Bradberry, a Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award winner who led a grassroots effort to support the low-income families in New Orleans' Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina.  Lauren Lubin who has started an international movement to empower those who have become invisible and oppressed.  I met and heard Steve Casey, a man who saw the lack of access to healthy, fresh produce on Chicago's south side, and so he created a way to get it into the community.  There was high school student, Martha Zuniga, who, even at a young age, is working to see that girls all around the world have the opportunity to be educated regardless of efforts in places to ensure they are not.  And then there was me.  To say that I felt a little out of place amongst such inspiring and world changing people would be an understatement.  I was invited to speak about 366 Random Acts at an event for Chicago Ideas Week, but wasn't quite sure that A. I knew what I would talk about and B. that I even belonged there.  As each speaker went up to present to the audience, I became more and more nervous, almost to the point that I entertained faking a sudden bout of laryngitis.  Luckily, Lilly in her sweet, Southern drawl told me to just remember that I was invited to tell people my story and that no one knew that story better than me.  I was instantly calmed by her words, and felt much more comfortable...that is until my name was called.  I made my way up there, and then I pretty much blacked out, not remembering anything I said.  So hopefully today, for my random act of kindness I gave a speech that I hope inspired the people that were there.  The main theme that I stressed was how easy it is to spread kindness and to do kind acts, so I would like to reiterate that to everyone on here.  The opportunity for kindness is there, you just have to look for it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 284: Sent A Congratulatory E-Greeting

This will be brief because I have a crazy 13 month old in need of a bath.  A crazy 13 month old who has completely changed my life.  So I understand how important the arrival of a new baby can be on your life.  This is why I wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate a fellow kind act guru on the recent birth of her child.  Danielle Teal (Leaps of Kindness) recently welcomed her 2nd daughter, Madison Jean, so today for my random act of kindness I sent Danielle a congratulatory e-greeting. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day 283: Shared Information About Mental Illness

This week is National Mental Illness Awareness week here in the United States.  My family and I aren't strangers to mental illness, as my grandmother suffered from bipolar disease.  Although I had intended on doing something, I received an email from a reader wishing to remain anonymous who had a story and a request that they wanted to share with me.  The reader mentioned that for the longest time they had been struggling with depression.  It had never gotten to the point of suicide, but they had been in a pretty sad place.  With the help of their family, friends, and their doctor, they have overcome their depression and are happier than they have ever been.  The person asked me to utilize my forum to spread awareness for depression, suicide, and other mental illness issues so that others who might be reading this blog know that things can get better and that there is help out there.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I would like to share some information and links to places for people to educate themselves about mental illness to help themselves or others around them.

26% of the population of the United States (or 57.7 million people) suffers from some sort of mental illness, with almost a quarter of these cases being deemed "serious."  Mental illness knows no bounds as it affects every race, every sex, and every nationality.  There are so many different organizations out there that are dedicated to specific types of mental illness or issues.  Here are just a few:
There are many other organizations out there that can help.  But always remember, there IS help out there.  Even when you seem to be alone and at your lowest point, there is someone out there who can help.  Hell, I'm not a doctor or even someone who gives great advice, but if you need someone to talk to, shoot me an email at and I will be there to listen.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Day 282: Sent A Couple "Best Buddies" To Meet The Chicago Bulls

My best friend Brian called me last week and told me that he had something to donate to 366 Random Acts.  Brian and his father are season ticket holders for the Chicago Bulls, and as such, they are entitled to some pretty cool events that are for season ticket holders.  Brian had 2 passes to the Bulls "Sixth Man Jam" which is a pre-season event where fans get to both shoot hoops on the court of the United Center and interact with the players themselves.  I was more than happy to use the tickets for a random act, but I wasn't sure exactly who to use them for.  But then I got an idea.  Since Brian is my best friend, I thought I would give the tickets to another pair of best friends.  So I reached out to the Best Buddies Illinois.  Best Buddies Illinois is an organization which helps to "create opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)." I spoke with Joanna from Best Buddies, and she instantly had a pair of buddies in mind.  Otis Brown and his Best Buddy Garrett have spent the past 2.5 years forging a phenomenal relationship.  Through their relationship, Otis has been able to have a best friend to share his hobbies (movies, bowling, working out) with, and has grown to become a Buddy Ambassador.  As a Buddy Ambassador, Otis has been tasked with traveling to different schools to talk about the program and how important the program has been to him.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I utilized the donation from my best friend to send a couple of other best friends to meet the Chicago Bulls.  Tonight, Garrett and Otis will be rubbing elbows with Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and the other Chicago basketball stars.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Day 281: Walked A Friend's Dog

I am a huge fan of the Chicago Marathon.  Not running it of course, but going to watch it and cheer for the athletes.  Year after year, I get the chills and get inspired at the beginning of the race when the wheelchair athletes lead the way through the city of Chicago.  This year, I was able to cheer on a couple of my fraternity brothers along with Lindsey, Isla, my brother-in-law Perry and his wife Michelle.  This was also the first year since I moved back to Chicago in 2007 that I wasn't running through the middle of the race, dodging runners, while trying to get to the other side for a softball game.  My friend Laura loves the marathon and in an effort to be involved in it again this year, she decided to help volunteer.  Volunteering for the marathon required that she work a 12 hour day starting at 4AM.  She didn't have a problem with working that long, but she did have an issue with her dog, Kasey, being cooped up for that long.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I decided to utilize Laura's hidden key, and took Kasey for a walk.  He was super excited and nearly stole a woman's grocery bag from Whole Foods.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Day 280: Ordered A Surprise Birthday Dessert

I feel like I have been apologizing for the late posts a whole lot lately.  I have apologized so much that I have started apologizing for apologizing.  I need to get on my random act A game where I used to post early in the morning even if I don't do my random acts until late in the day like today.  Yesterday was my step-father Kevin's birthday and today we went out for his birthday dinner.  The place that we went to, Lighthouse of Cedar Lake, was like an hour and a half away but was one of the most delicious steaks that I have had in a long time.  Kevin isn't one for being the center of attention, so he isn't huge on having restaurant staff sing to him (like last night when he had to wear a giant sombrero and poncho while he was sung to).  Rather than embarrass him by having the whole restaurant do something, my mom and I wanted to do something a little low key.  So today, for my random act of kindness, we ordered Kevin Lighthouse's famous banana cream pie and a side of ice cream.  He said tonight that he is 52 but feels 40.  Well then here is to another 52 years so that when you are 104, you feel 80.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 279: Gave A Gift Card To A Homeless Man

After my random act where I passed out free Wendy's to college students, I still had some money left on the card that my friend James had given to me.  To be honest, I had completely forgotten that I hadn't used all the money on it until today.  I have given up eating fast food for the sake of my pants size, so to not have it seduce me into a Baconator, I felt like I had to get the card out of my possession ASAP.  I was stopped at a light when a man held a sign that he was a veteran in need.  He came up to me with his cup and asked if I had anything at all so that he could just get a warm meal.  I rolled down my window, thanked the man for his service, and said I had something that could provide him with more than just one warm meal.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I gave a Wendy's gift card with nearly $50 on it to a homeless veteran.  When I told him how much was on it he said "Wait, FIVE ZERO!?!"  He told me that it was too much, so I asked him if he would share it with others if he wanted to.  The conversation ended abruptly there because the person behind me started honking.  Before I go, I want to link to an organization that is trying to help curb the incidence of homelessness among veterans.  The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans is working hard to provide housing, food, health services and many other programs for our heroes that have fallen on hard times since returning from battle.  It is astonishing to think that 25% of the homeless in the United States have risked their lives for everyone just to return home to nothing.  That is something that should change, and I will be sure to dedicate a future random act towards it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 278: Take What You Need

When you are trying to come up with 366 different acts of kindness, sometimes you need to steal borrow an idea here and there.  If it wasn't for borrowing ideas, and more importantly the suggestions that I receive, I'm not sure I would have been able to make it this far.  At least I wouldn't have been able to not repeat any acts or do some of my more meaningful and fun acts.  My act today is something that I have seen around the city a few different times this year and I think it is a fantastic idea.  Everyone is in need of a pick me up now and again, but doesn't always have someone around to be that pick me up.  I want to help the people who are in need of those pick me ups in a small and fun way.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am hanging up the above "Take What You Need" signs in different places that I go today.  If people need strength, courage, hope, etc. they can know that there is a stranger out there willing to give it to them.  Even if it is just a piece of paper, sometimes the small things can really help you get through the day.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 277: Bought A Commissioned Piece Of Artwork

I have tried to get a memento from each random act of kindness so that one day I can give them to Isla.  I have tshirts, newspaper articles, DVDs, and letters but I wanted to get her something special that would encapsulate all of the random acts.  I wanted her to have something tangible that always reminded her that she was the inspiration behind each and every random act of kindness.

In April, for one of my random acts of kindness, I visited the After School Matters program here in Chicago, and was blown away by the talent of the children in the program.  There was culinary art, fashion art, photography art, and something called skateboard art.  I was really drawn to the skateboard art, not because I am a skateboarder (truth be told I have never been able to stand up on one), but because I thought it was such a cool canvas for the students to create art on.  When I saw that it was possible to commission the After School Matters students to create a piece of artwork for you, I knew I wanted to get something for Isla while supporting the program.  A little while after the event, I reached out to my friend Emily who works for ASM, and she introduced me to one of the students, Steph Rivera.  I was told that Steph was one of the most talented artist that had come through the program, and that she would help turn my "vision" into a piece of art.  Vision is in quotation marks because it consisted of me telling her the following, "uhhh, i want it to be for Isla and uhhhh include random acts and uhhhh I have a chalkboard background on the Twitter so...uhhhhh yeah all that."  Well Steph somehow deciphered what I was trying to say and created something that I instantly fell in love with.  So today, for my random act of kindness I bought a commissioned piece of artwork for Isla.  If you are interested in getting artwork but don't want to pay insane amounts of money, I suggest reaching out to programs such as After School Matters.  Not only are you helping yourself, but you are helping a program that makes a difference in so many lives.  As for the skateboard Steph created, here it is...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 276: Sent Greeting Cards To Random Addresses

Since my wife is the queen of greeting cards, thanks you cards, just because cards, etc., we have an exorbitant amount of greeting cards here in the house.  I was thinking that one of the greatest feelings in the world, no matter your age, is opening your mailbox and seeing a colorful envelope addressed to you.  I could only imagine what it would be like to get a card on a day that isn't your birthday or during the holidays.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am filling out greeting cards and selecting random addresses in states across the country to send them to.  I wonder if any of the readers of this blog will be the one to get a card!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 275: Fundraised (Hopefully) $1000

I get inspired on a daily basis.  My daughter and wife inspire me to be a better father and husband.  My friends and family inspire me by showing me that they are always there for me.  Readers of 366 Random Acts inspire me with their kind words and suggestions that they send to me.  Someone else that has inspired me throughout much of this year has been Pastor Corey Brooks of the New Beginnings Church on the south side of Chicago.  He inspires me because he yearns to see positive change in this world, and will do anything in his power to make sure it happens. 

I met Pastor Brooks when I joined him on the roof that he lived on for 89 days to help raise funds to demolish a motel ridden with crime and drugs.  I walked with Pastor Brooks for the Chicago leg of his Project H.O.O.D walk across America that he is doing to raise the funds to build a community center on the grounds that the motel once stood.  He is just one man, but he has built a following and an action plan to make positive change in his community through the hopeful elimination of violence on Chicago's south side.  Well Pastor Brooks is approaching the end of his walk across America that has taken him from New York City all the way to Los Angeles.  I want to do whatever I can to help him reach his goal and build that center.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am starting a quest to fundraise $1000 between now and October 14th so that I can present it to Pastor Brooks when he makes his return to Chicago.  Too many lives have been taken on account of gun violence here in Chicago, so if I can help Pastor Brooks in his mission to end that, I will just have to hit the pavement in my own way.  I know it probably seems like I ask for a lot on here, but if every follower of 366 Random Acts just donated 50 cents, I would be able to collect 4 times that amount.  If you do have the means to donate, or have any questions, please don't hesitate in reaching out to me at