Ripples of Hundred Dollar Kindness Ideas

Jul 21, 2009

It's amazing what a simple question can lead to.  On, we asked: "If you had an extra $100, how would you use it to bring more kindness in your community?" Geet started has been running the experiment, selecting one kindness winner per month for the last year.  Two months into it, she has been so moved that her creativity is reaching new heights!  Take a look at some of the stories that she just sent out to the coordinators, and you'll see why.

With their $100 gift, a father and daughter in Arizona excitedly put a dollar and 2 smile-cards in 100 envelopes and instructions to either keep the envelope or pass it on by adding your own dollar.  People were reluctant at first, they tried another strategy, and then a third one.  And by the end of their final trip, he concluded:

"I had a chance to provide some 'on the job training' for a future HelpOthers member, my daughter Rachel. She wants to do it again and we most certainly will do something. Thanks to all of you for your support and for allowing me to share this with you. Everything matters, no matter how small the act. I was able to witness that firsthand with this project and it has truly changed me!"

An immobile and partially sighted Heidi, in the UK, planned an outing for a group of elderly people, who had no families.  She wrote:

The buffet and dance did very well, and there were around 30 elderly residents who attended. I managed to pop up for a short while, as they held it in the afternoon, and my parents took me there by car, even though it is only a short distance from my house. It was a good buffet with sandwiches, and cakes and other finger foods, and plenty of beverages. They also had bingo, and small hampers of food were given to the winners, as well as a bottle of whiskey or sherry. They also had a dance afterwards, which also went down very well. I thank you so much for allowing me to be able to do this, with this money, it was both a very memorable and worthwhile afternoon, and I am content that we helped to make a difference to these elderly residents in this way.

'onefish2fish' created kindness journals and passed it around in Pennsylvania: "Once you perform an act of kindness, write it down and pass it on to the next person. Then they will add a kind act and pass it on. Once filled send it back to me so I can see all the kind acts that my one act started."

Pat anonymously sent $25 Toys-R-Us gift cards to four very sick terminally ill kids, with a note: "Someone is thinking of you today.  Please enjoy and buy something fun!"  In Pheonix, 'brunen' works for a crisis-center; she took the $100 to buy supplies (yarn, stuffing and eyes) to make stuffed animals, applied her love of crocheting and made 150-200 stuffed animal toys to give away to children who are removed from a home with parents in crisis!  In rural Tennesse, 'WitchDust' lives in a poverty stricken neighborhood, where some only get one meal/day; she anonymously treated all school children to ice-creams on 2 consecutive Fridays!  Another member wanted to help out local bus drivers by giving them an experience in giving, so he gave $100 in change to a city bus-driver to pay fares for seniors without monthly passes.  In West Virginia, Leigh teaches a class for at-risk, 8-12 year old girls who often come to school in their Dad's old clothes; she bought new article of clothing for each girl in her class.  Yet another member did his own version of Smile Stones. In Texas, Tyler bought biodegradable signs, on which he painted kind words and posted it around town.  Rebecca used her hundred bucks to refuel her lawn mower, so her kids could mow their neighbor's yard as a surprise act of kindness!

Eighteen year old Jacinda, in New Zealand, wrote: "Money doesn't always have to be the thing which is the answer to kindness.  It comes from the heart. You don't need $100 dollars to bring more kindness. Its from a happy friendly smile or a loving and helping hand. I'd pick colourful flowers from my garden, go round the hospital, give many bunches of flowers to the ones who look sad, lonely, dying or terminally ill and I'd give to the children. I'd do this to brighen up their day in a simple but heartfelt way."  She not only did that, but got her whole family involved and her acts of singing were reported in the local papers too!

In Montana, Lela matched her $100 gift and went around the neighborhood to give out meals to the elderly.  "Every one of these people first cried, then smiled. I have never felt so emotional or so blessed," she said.  And Lela herself has Multiple Sclerosis.  Two weeks later, when she was helplessly bed-ridden for 2-3 weeks, a young mother brought her some food, washed her dishes and took out her trash!  She movingly wrote about her whole experience of the ripple of that humble gift.

Wow.  That ought to restore anyone's faith in humanity.

Inspired by these stories, we took a closer look at the ideas and saw that there were more than a dozen brilliant ideas that weren't able to make our one-per-month -- so we pooled some money together and decided to make them ALL winners!  Check it out:

Coin Giving For Clean Clothes

Wouldn't it be wonderful to hand out coins to people who have to wash and dry their clothes at the laundry mat?? I think it would be a wonderul gift for someone who struggles to save loose change to have clean clothes.


Random Acts Of Kindness

I've designed a project built on the concept,"Every Act of Kindness is worth it's weight in gold." Students will be given (k-5) paper gold coins to record the acts of kindess they receive. These will be placed in a treasure chest overflowing as the week progressses and the coins are turned in. I'd like to provide chocolate candy gold foil coins to each student to initiate and motivate at the introduction. The funds would pay for the candy.


Not Forgotten

I would like to make up several gift baskets, a "You Matter" card & a SMILE card and take them to different retirement homes in the area.  I would chose a person on the staff who knows the residents and ask them to pick the person most in need of this gift and bless them with this basket while telling them about doing something kind for someone else.  It will hopefully brighten their day and maybe even their outlook.

$100 Helper

My sons & I would ask neighbors to match us dollar for dollar for our local food pantry.  If they can give more - we still use $1 to make it stretch- we'll give them a sticker (made locally, donated)  "I helped someone today" to engage others.  We'll share stats about our need at the food pantry and how far their donation goes.  Thank you!  I appreciate the forum for ideas, and lessons for my boys.


Send A Ray Of Sunshine

I love to send cards with a  something tucked inside to brighten someones day.  It could be someone  who  looks a little down. Or someone who is going through a rough time. Or just someone I randomly pick out of the phonebook. I recently bought some "guardian angel wallet cards."  It reads, Know you are never alone, an angel is by your side to light the way and be your guide.


Flowers For All!

I would buy several flats fo flowers (plants), then stand in the center of my tiny little town and hand each plant out to passerbys with a smile on face and a "have a great day!" greeting! 


What I Would Do With $100

I would plant a tree and put a bench beside it for people to come, sit a spell, talk awhile.


Help A Hero!

We have quite a few young men who have just graduated high school and joined the military. We also have a couple who are currently serving. I would like to host a "Welcome Home" party for a soldier . These young people are putting everything on the line for the country and everyone in it. Most of these local Heroes are from low income families. I would like to take the 100 dollars and stretch it  to help as many young Veterans as possible.


Spread It $10 At A Time

Car @ wash; $10 to pump gas;  Waitress add'l $10 tip; $10 stamps- give to some in line; $10 to ice cream man;  Dairy Queen Dilly Bars for  work; $10 flowers to widow neighbor; $10 diapers to new mom; $10 customer's Goodwill bill; 10 boxes of bottled water packets - give one each when we feed the homeless.  


To-go Boxes Aplenty

If I were to recieve $100, I would use it to buy a hot meal for approximately 10 different indiduals, and I would attach a smile card on top. Not only would I deliver a hot meal with smile card in-tow to those who desperately need it, but I would come ready to talk, or listen, whichever is needed. I would then ask that each individual repay me back by never letting the troubles of life get them too down, and if they ever get the chance, to buy a hot meal for someone else who needs it.

Help The Unemployed

I would buy gas cards and go to our library and find books about being fired and laid off. I would tuck the cards inside the books with a little note wishing for whoever is reading the book that they will find a job soon. 


Thinking Of You Cards : )

I would take $100 and buy 200 thinking of you cards, I would put a smile card in each card and get everyone to sign them, then I would get a group of people up from our local community and hand deliever them to the hospice center and the senior citizen living centers around my area and give them out to all of the patients who are there.  I feel that if people just spend time with each other and showed compassion it would allow everyone to feel that they make a difference :)


My Small Community

Most of my elderly neighbors are alone.  I think loneliness is a great burden for those of us who are old and alone. We are allowed pets here in the housing units and have been gifted with several stray cats looking for homes. Problem is,not many can afford to feed them. So I would use the money to buy cat food at the dollar store, that way the animals could benefit from our love and we could benefit from theirs too.


Smile Transaction Register

I would start 5 Smile transaction registers each consisting of a check book register inside there would be 20 $1 bills and directions; You can either make a deposit or a withdrawal then log the transaction in the register including date-transaction description-amount-ending balance. Email your story to then Pass it on!


Origami Peace Cranes

I would purchase bright coloured paper, make origami peace cranes and then write the following message on the wings ‘Be kind’ (on one wing). ‘Help others’ (on the other wing). I would then leave them in random public places. I feel people would be more inclined to notice an origami crane than just an ordinary piece of paper and then maybe, just maybe the message of ‘Be kind, Help others’ may spread out like a mini Mexican Wave!


Compassionate Cakes

I baked a cake for a friend for no special reason. She said no one had ever baked her a whole cake before. I would use $100 to buy cake mixes. I would donate eggs, oil, and frosting for the cakes. Friends would help me bake 100 cakes. We would take one cake to homes in 100 different blocks. We would encourage the homes with the cakes to share with neighbors. We would bless people with food for their bellies and love for their souls.


Who would've thought that our little Smile Card experiment would create so many other experiments and ripples!


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"Service doesn't start when you have something to give; it blossoms naturally when you have nothing left to take."

"Real privilege lies in knowing that you have enough."