12 not so Random Acts of Kindness for the new year

With the holidays behind us and the start of this new year, we decided it would be fun to carry the spirit of giving through the entire year. Call it a resolution, if you must. We are talking about Random Acts of Kindness. If you're wondering how you can keep your karma bank full all year long without emptying your wallet, we've put together a calendar for you to tap into whenever you are feeling the need to spread some kindness.

It turns out that Random Acts of Kindness Day is just around the corner on February 17th. It's become popular with schools and organizations who already serve their community in a big way. But you can get involved; there are potential Acts of Kindness all around you if you look for opportunities.

If you are looking for some universal suggestions, we also have you covered. Help an elderly or disabled person load their groceries into their vehicle, pick up someone's tab at Dunkin' Donuts, send a thank you note to a teacher you once had, let someone get in front of you in line at the supermarket, leave a large and unexpected tip for a good waiter or waitress, shovel someone's driveway or rake their leaves on a whim, give a compliment to a stranger, adopt a pet, open a door for someone, leave some quarters at the laundromat, donate some time to your local food bank, buy lemonade from a lemonade stand. Donate blood through the American Cross. Give a lottery ticket to a stranger. One we really love? Leave a handmade bookmark inside of a book at the library or write a positive, uplifting note or quote, a list of book suggestions, or even a few dollar bills with a note suggesting they grab a cup of coffee. Most of these "random" acts will make someone's day and that's enough to make your day too.

Below you'll find a number of recommendations that will make you feel both frugal and generous throughout the calendar year. Use it or make up one of your own! 

JANUARY: Pick up a pair of movie tickets - Buy a pair of movie tickets and drop them off for the kids at Webster House. Everyone needs a break now and then, and the kids at Webster House are no different. The Webster House, located in Manchester, has been providing a safe haven for children unable to live at home since 1884. Originally called "The Manchester Children’s Home," it has been known as the Webster House since 1976. Local churches along with the Amoskeag Mills helped launch this home that continues to serve children today and well into the future. The Webster House exists to meet a condition that is prevalent in New Hampshire: youth who are unable to live at home for some period of time. They provide a safe home, offer counseling and social normalcy, activities and interpersonal relationships, and finally, help to rebuild the bonds with the ultimate goal of reuniting with family. At the top of their wish list is movie tickets. Help make their wish come true. See what Webster House is all about on their website: https://www.websterhousenh.org/.

FEBRUARY: Jump in the Ocean - This year, the Penguin Plunge lands on February 3rd and as usual, the chilly dip into the Atlantic Ocean for hundreds of plungers takes place at Hampton Beach. This is one large fundraiser for Special Olympics of NH and requires a fundraising minimum of $350. That's what Facebook is for. Challenge friends and family to help you meet that goal and you're opportunity to freeze for a good cause is on! The athletes who are a part of Special Olympics of NH will benefit from your goosebumps, frozen fingers and curled toes, so don't be shy. Go one step further and dress up in costume to make your dash and splash into the ocean more fun! There is a theme every year. For 2019, it's "Hippies" and if you want to strut your stuff, be part of the costume parade prior to the event. Visit the Special Olympics of NH website to sign up or find out how you can be part of it: Penguin Plunge

MARCH: See a Hockey Game - Grab some tickets to see the "Battle of the Badges" hockey game at the SNHU Arena in Manchester on March 16, 2019. The "Battle of the Badges" game, which has become a popular event but it is, more importantly, a large fundraiser for the folks at the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, also known as CHaD. Last year's fundraiser actually exceeded CHaD's goal (pun intended) of 275,000. The game raised $284,724. It just goes to show that every dollar - and every person - counts. To boggle your mind further, consider that this fundraiser has raised $2.25 million in the past 11 years. So see who's the best goal getter (the firemen or the policemen) and watch one of the more exciting hockey games you will see all year. $3 from every ticket goes to CHaD, which is New Hampshire's only children's hospital. CHaD provides an extended system of care that offers advanced pediatric services, advocacy, access to David's House - a comfortable home-away-from-home for families of children receiving care at CHaD - and many other services for children in need of medical care. Buy tickets: HERE 

APRIL: Paint Rocks and leave them where people will find them! Your positive or uplifting words or paintings will definitely make someone smile - or even make their day - and that is what Wicked Rocks NH, a Facebook group we stumbled upon, does. People then post a photo of the rock they found, which they may keep or hide it again to put a smile on someone else's face. We guarantee you will start looking everywhere you go. They are hidden in public places (and they usually are not very well hidden). Go hunting if you need a pick-me-up, but if you want to perform an act of kindness, you better find some rocks (the flatter, the better, they tell us) and get to painting. Hit up Wicked Rocks NH on Facebook if you need some ideas. Visit the Facebook page at: Wicked Rocks NH

MAY: Eat Bacon and Drink Beer - Sometimes, it's all about food. Did someone say bacon? Yes! The 4th Annual New Hampshire Bacon and Beer Festival, held on May 18, 2019 at Millyard Technology Park in Nashua, is a one day celebration of the greasy, fatty, savory goodness of bacon, alongside the endless possibilities of flavors that have come to define well crafted beer. These delectables will be paired alongside fresh beers and ciders. The Festival celebrates local chefs and local brewers alongside the glory that is bacon. Who are we to argue? And what's better than bacon and beer? This event is a fundraiser! The festival is organized by High Hopes Foundation of New Hampshire. For more than 35 years, the High Hopes Foundation has been granting life-changing experiences to chronically and terminally ill children in our state. For more information about the event, visit  their website at: http://nhbaconbeer.com.

JUNE: Pay a toll - Pay the toll for the car or several cars behind you at one of three toll locations in New Hampshire. This is a simple act that can be done anytime of the year, but it's only possible if you go through the Cash Only lane. For those of us without E-Z pass, it's a no-brainer, but you'll have to ask the toll attendant if E-Z pass will charge you since you would not be in an E-Z pass lane. It doesn't get much easier than this, and you never know, you just might make someone's day!

JULY: Be a Pease Greeter - One of the most rewarding ways to spend your time is to greet veterans who have been deployed overseas or are returning home from a deployment. That's where you come in! Anyone can do it. It's doesn't cost you a penny, and is one of the most memorable experiences you will ever have. That we can promise you. These things stay with you. Portsmouth International Airport at Pease in Newington is always the last stop for active-duty veterans who are being deployed overseas and it's their first stop on their way back into the United States. To welcome them with thanks, coming and going, every flight, is the mission of the Pease Greeters. This dedicated group of compassionate souls are there to greet troops regardless of the hour or weather, and sometimes greeting several flights in one day. If you want to give this one a shot you need to know that there are some rules. Due to heightened security, in order to receive Pease Greeters Flight Schedules and an access code for the Greeter Hotline, you will need to complete the mandatory sign-up form found on their website at http://www.peasegreeters.org/membership. An identification process will take place at any Greeter flight. Don't let that stop you though! It's genuinely worth it and you will come away from the experience without regret.

AUGUST: Run through an Insane Inflatable obstacle course 5K - On August 17, 2019 New England Dragway in Epping will be the site of the Insane Inflatable 5K and it's just like it sounds - insane fun! We can't decide if it's an Act of Kindness for the "runners" or for those who benefit from the event. But that's no excuse not to get involved. If you register now, the cost is only $39 per person and increases as the event gets closer, topping off at $79. The Insane Inflatable course is one like you’ve never experienced in any other race. Countless hours were spent to make each obstacle as unique, challenging, and most importantly — FUN — as possible. The inflatables are huge and include a 70 foot long ball maze, an 80 foot long and 20 feet high climbing wall, and 'Big Balls,' which is basically a life-size ball pit here you will duck, dive, and dodge your way to the other side. The 'Mattress Run' will have you falling down laughing, 'Wrecking Balls,' which is a 110 foot long inflatable will push you to your limits - push back - and the 'Waverunner' which is flat but still an inflatable - and it has speed bumps. Dress in costume, grab a team, and go for it. Donations are received based on volunteer support and they are working with the American Cancer Society and Aubrielle's Hope in NH. See for yourself what the course looks like: https://insaneinflatable5k.com/obstacles/

SEPTEMBER: Go for a walk on the beach - Sometimes an Act of Kindness involves taking care of the world we live in. So go to the beach, already! And get to tidying up the place while you are there. The Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation does a monthly beach clean-up at Jenness Beach in Rye throughout the year. September seems like a good time to get involved, while the weather is still nice and after the peak of "beach season." Great minds seem to think alike because in September there is a regular beach cleanup in Rye on September 14, 2019. In addition to that, there is a New Hampshire Coastal Cleanup the following weekend on September 21, 2019. This one covers several beaches and although the details are not out for 2019 it generally coincides with the Ocean Conservancy for an International Coastal Cleanup. If there is litter on the beach, the Blue Ocean Society volunteers are out there to clean it up. With the help of volunteers, they have removed over 170,000 pounds of litter from our local beaches since 2001. Wow! Visit the Blue Ocean Society's website to sign up for one (as they are done monthly). 

OCTOBER: Volunteer at David's House - This one is connected to the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD). David’s House is the dream of a little boy named David Cyr who passed away at age five after a three-and-a-half-year struggle against acute lymphatic leukemia. Built so that families can remain together when it is most crucial, David’s House provides a home-away-from-home and support for families with children receiving treatment through the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. They have served more than 50,000 people in need. They encourage all types of volunteers from bakers, cooks, people who can answer the phone and check guests in and out, chat with families, participate in events, make quilts, and do everything possible to bring a little sunshine into their guests’ lives. Meeting with these families and hearing their stories can be heartbreaking, but volunteers really do help support them through them through dark times. Visit David's House online for more information: https://davids-house.org/

NOVEMBER: Make dinner for 40 people - If you can cook, this one is for you! Better yet - do a potluck. Challenge your neighbors to cook a dish and bring it to you; you in turn can provide dinner (known as a 'Tailgate Dinner') to the Saturday or Sunday night guests at the Hundred Nights Cold Weather Shelter on Lamson Street in Keene. The Hundred Nights Cold Weather Shelter provides a safe, warm place to sleep for up to 36 guests every night between November 15th and April 15th. Often, the other shelter services in Keene are filled to capacity and without this additional shelter, many people would be outside on the streets during the coldest winter nights. Over the last two years there has been an increase in the number of families with children in need of shelter. Their Open Doors Resource Center is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the summer, with longer hours when it's cold. People who are displaced or homeless can come in for breakfast food, lunch, laundry facilities, personal care items, gently used clothing, assistance with applications for Food Stamps, Medicaid and housing, help in getting a birth certificate or ID. There is a job and housing listing board and always some friendly faces to talk to. Be one of those friendly faces. More information about the Tailgate Dinners here: Hundred Nights Tailgate or visit their Facebook page to find out about any urgent needs.

DECEMBER - Be a part of the Santa Fund - For 59 years, The Union Leader Santa Fund for The Salvation Army has supported thousands of people during the holidays. Santa Fund dollars provide warm clothing, meals and toys for local families during the holidays, as well as support Kids’ Café, summer camps and other critical programs and community services. To be more specific, 300 children shop for warm clothing; head-to-toe, underwear to outerwear. 2,824 children have a happy Christmas morning with toys from The Salvation Army Toy Shop, 4,777 individuals enjoy a nice Christmas meal with all the fixings, and 76 children spend the summer at The Salvation Army Day Camp at little or no cost annually. In its first year, the Santa Fund brought in $1,000 to support The Salvation Army’s Christmas efforts. Since then, nearly $7.9 million has been raised thanks to the generosity of local businesses and individuals. Visit the Santa Fund webpage for information on how you can donate, www.unionleader.com/santafund.