Random Acts of Kindness by Dete Meserve and Rachel Greco

I was provided with an arc of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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If you ever find yourself wondering what is wrong with human beings that they feel the need to be so cruel try reading Random Acts of Kindness by Dete Meserve and Rachel Greco. This book is a collection of uplifting stories about people getting caught being kind. Each section is short but concise. The collection covers simple acts like buying pizza for a girl with cancer to buying a $45,000 (if I remember the exact number correctly) van for a disabled mother (to replace the continuously broken-down van she had been using to ferry her children to their activities).

It is my advice to everyone who reads this not just to read it but to put it somewhere you will see daily and to read a section every time you need a reminder that you can change someone’s world with one kind act. Don’t let this sit on a shelf where it will gradually fade from memory. Read it and let it change you, display it and let it remind you, share it and let it help others grow.

My absolute favorite part about this book was that the people who used someone else’s idea to do good (like the shoppers who paid for someone else’s purchase) didn’t feel the need to say that they came up with the idea on their own. Rather they were honest by saying that they saw someone else do a good deed and thought, “that was amazing and simple. I can do something like that.” That’s what I hope this book does for everyone who reads it. There are a million small things we can do every day that we forget we are capable of.

I especially enjoyed the stories where the good Samaritan didn’t buy something (or at least didn’t spend more than $10) but rather found another way to help someone. If there is ever anything that stops me from helping someone it is the fear that I don’t have the money to do it and still survive. That isn’t to say that I don’t donate, which I do less often than I’d like to and more often than my budget likes, but it’s still nice to be reminded that I can be a good and helpful person without breaking the bank.  

I was touched by every story in this collection. Two in particular were of interest to me because in some ways they were exact opposites: one man bought a $45,000 van for a complete stranger and a woman chose to do one kind act every day for a year for strangers and people she knew. One is a grand gesture for someone this person has never met and the other is a small act each day for anyone who needs it. Both are amazing and touching and illustrate both the same idea and a widely diverging idea. The similarity is that it is possible to do good in this world you just have to choose how you want to do it. The differing idea is that we often think of a good act as one we do for a stranger, but that doesn’t have to be the case. It is not self-serving to help someone whom you also know and care about, nor is it rude to help a stranger instead of focusing on family or friends. Both are positive and far-reaching: like I hope this book will be.

My favorite piece told about a group called A Sense of Home that helps people who have aged out of the foster care system and thus have no home. A Sense of Home uses donations to furnish a home with all the things a person or family will need. I spent a very short amount of time in foster care, but I still got a pretty good feel for it and I can’t imagine hitting 18 and basically being kicked out with a “good luck” and little else. Just look at these statistics from Foster Focus magazine. https://www.fosterfocusmag.com/articles/foster-care-and-homelessness

• Within 18 months of emancipation 40-50% of foster youth become homeless.

• Nationally, 50% of the homeless population spent time in foster care.

• 65% of youth leaving foster care need immediate housing upon discharge.

Needless to say I was very gladRandom Acts of Kindness included information about how to help people who age out of foster care.

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