No matter how hard it is to admit, everybody needs a little help from time to time. In these moments, the smallest act of kindness can have big consequences, whether it comes from a friend, family member, or even a complete stranger. Here, people share those little heartwarming gestures that changed their lives or the lives of someone they knew.
1. Helping Hoops
I saw a neighbor boy practicing his jump shot into some tree branches in his front yard. I had a portable basketball hoop in the back from when I moved in that was just taking up space. So, I walked over and offered him the hoop for free. I saw him, his sister, parents, aunts, uncles, even a grandparent or two, all take a couple of shots at the hoop over time. It felt good to know his family got so much use out of it.
2. Thank You for Your Service
My buddy and I are in the Navy. We worked the night shift from Christmas Eve into Christmas morning. When we got off, we went to the Waffle House, and we were still in uniform. I don’t remember if we even remembered that it was Christmas until we got there. When it came time to pay up, our jaws hit the floor. We were told that three separate people had paid three separate hosts for our food.
I married my wife in Bermuda on a beautiful pink sand beach. My brother was my best man and was great all throughout the day. But the cherry on the cake was at the end of the evening when all the proceedings were done and everyone was pretty tipsy and having a nice time. He comes over and hands me two glass bottles full of pink sand. My face was one of confusion. He tells me it’s the exact same sand my wife and I stood on when we got married.
Total cost? Probably $2. But I’ll be darned if I didn’t bawl like a darn baby. It’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received and thanks to him, my wife and I now have the exact spot we married sitting with us in our front room as a decoration.
4. A Warm Hug on a Cold Day
I was nine years old, waiting for the school bus in Wisconsin during the winter. I had a thin coat, no hat or gloves. A woman driving past saw me and stopped, giving me a blanket from the back of her car. I remember thanking her, but being confused. I told her that I didn’t know how I would give it back when I was done borrowing it. She hugged me and said not to worry. I still have that blanket.
5. I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying
I was visiting friends in a town in the Midwest with my kids and we went to an ice cream shop. My oldest was quite excited, running around, being silly while we sat outside. There was a middle-aged couple sitting out there too, so I kept asking her to come sit by me and be quiet so she wouldn’t bother them. But I was totally misreading the situation.
As we got up to leave, the couple came over and asked if they could give my daughter a gift card for the shop. I was speechless for a moment but said of course, that’s so kind of you. Then they revealed their tragic reason. “We lost a daughter years ago who looked so much like her,” they said, “make sure she gets more ice cream,” and they left. I cried for a bit after that.
6. The Little Things
I was waiting at the traffic lights to cross the road. It was raining a bit and I didn’t carry an umbrella with me that day. I don’t really mind the rain, so it didn’t bother me that much at the time, but it was still really wet. Then suddenly, a man went up to me and held his umbrella over me while we were waiting to cross. It wasn’t much, but it made me so happy.
7. Coffee Karma
I worked at Starbucks. One morning around 6:30, a customer came in and I asked how she was doing. “Oh its already crazy and I haven’t even started,” she replied. To make her day a little easier, I gave her her coffee order for free. A few days later, I was having a terrible morning. It was only 6:30, and everything was already chaos—but it quickly turned into the best day ever.
She came in as usual and saw that I was having a bad day. A couple hours later, she came back with a gift bag for me. Inside was a nice bottle of vintage. It’s amazing how someone’s small gesture can make the day just a little bit nicer!
8. First-Class Trip to Awww-ville
My mom was dying, she lived in Australia and I live in Georgia. My husband had been laid off from work and I couldn’t afford to fly to Australia on a last-minute basis. A person that I only know from a message board used her frequent flyer miles and paid for my trip to Australia…not only that but she booked me, first class, both ways.
9. License to Give Thanks
On a Monday afternoon, I came home from work to find a letter in the mail. It was addressed by hand and the return address wasn’t familiar. I thought to myself “this can’t be good!” I opened the envelope to find my driver’s license and a note. I was unaware that I had even been missing my driver’s license. Apparently, on the prior Saturday, I had managed to drop it from my wallet somehow.
This nice person found it on the sidewalk, went home, wrote her note, addressed an envelope to me, and put a stamp on it, then deposited it into a mailbox in time for the Saturday pickup. By Monday, it was already back safely in my hands before I had even realized that it was missing.
10. Can’t Put a Price on Education
On September 14, 1986, my dad dropped me off at boarding school and gave me a five-dollar bill. I never heard from him again. He never paid my tuition bill. So, from the age of 14, I took every job I could get and worked my way through. At $4 an hour, I didn’t even come close to paying off my entire bill, but the school let me stick around because I was a model student in and out of the classroom.
We get to graduation. I opened my little diploma thing expecting to see a bill in five figures. Instead there was a note. Its contents changed my life forever. “Congratulations on your graduation. A group of us who believe in you and love you have taken care of your bill. We are proud to present you with your diploma.”
11. Mother of Mercy
When my wife gave birth to our firstborn, the woman she had shared a ward with while in the early stages of labor had a stillbirth. After giving birth, rather than spending time bonding with her newborn, my exhausted wife handed me our son and spent the next three hours comforting and consoling the poor woman. Something about the bond of mothers seemed to connect them.
The woman and her husband have since become close family friends and had two beautiful children after that—they still credit the support my wife gave them in the period of time after the stillbirth, especially in those three hours, with helping them get through their grief. It was the kindest act I’ve ever seen, done by the kindest person I’ve ever met.
12. Kids, Kids, Everywhere
I was at Target to do some shopping when my baby had a blown-out diaper. I also had my two-year-old with me. There was no family restroom, so I had to use the changing station in the ladies’ room. My toddler was out of control and was just itching to do gross stuff like lick the floors or play in toilet water or something that would horrify literally anyone on the planet except a mischievous two-year-old.
A woman, probably in her 40s, saw my predicament and interacted with my toddler so I could deal with the poop-splosion my tiny infant son produced. They counted sinks, jumped from tile to tile, made silly faces to one another. It probably only lasted two to three minutes, but it was the most helpful thing someone could have done for me in that overwhelming moment.
13. Just Saved Your Life, No Need to Thank me
After my motorcycle accident, a homeless guy dropped everything and dragged me out of the road. Then he went even further. I couldn’t believe it. Even though he had nothing, he took my wallet out of my pocket to help me find my health card, used my cellphone to call an ambulance, gave my phone back, talked a passer-by into waiting with me, and then went about his day. Never saw the guy again, but I definitely owe him.
14. A Pack of Lifesavers
I work for a non-profit organization downtown in a large city. There are a lot of homeless people who live on the sidewalk directly outside of our front door. There are less than 25 of us in that office, but several of my coworkers have saved people who were in medical distress due to substance addictions. I have literally seen them do CPR on people whose hearts had stopped.
None of them are medical people, but many have had CPR training. I’ve worked in that office for over a year and so far, none of the people who needed saving have succumbed on our watch. I once saw a co-worker, along with our receptionist, work on a guy for 10 minutes before he came back. I can’t express how amazing my coworkers are.
15. Three Times the Generosity
I had triplets last year and someone I work with has brought me a hot meal once a week or so for the entire first year of their lives, so I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking. The thing is, she drops them off ninja-style, not wanting to impose. She’ll text me that she left something on the porch. It has been one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.
16. Heart of Gold
I was selling my bike online when I was a teenager for $30. A buyer contacted me, so we set up a location. The buyer ended up being two kids on a single bike; one was balancing on the pegs when they rode into the parking lot. The kid with the bike bought my bike for his friend so that they could ride together. It was the most wholesome thing I’ve ever seen, and I couldn’t keep the grin off of my face as I watched them ride away together.
17. A Different Kind of Donation
I donated stem cells to a complete stranger. It’s a very impersonal experience because of the anonymity of it, so I didn’t know anything about the patient I was donating to, and she knew nothing about me. But then I received a heartbreaking message. I received a letter from her that really hammered home to me how much of an impact I had had on her life.
For me, it was a cheek swab I did in college four years ago, and then a random email saying that I had matched with someone. It was eye-opening to read her letter. Of course, it was a profound experience donating lifesaving stem cells to someone, but not knowing where those cells were going after the procedure had left me feeling a little empty, so I was grateful for her letter.
18. Small Gestures Can Go a Long Way
When my grandmother passed, my friend would FaceTime me when I couldn’t sleep and tell me bedtime stories. Our safe-word was “pineapple.” If she said that and I didn’t answer, she knew I was sleeping and she could hang up. It might have been a little thing for her, but it made a huge difference for me, and I’ll never forget it as long as I live.
19. Angels in the Heavens
When I was really ill in October 2017, my father also became even more ill than I was in another country. There was nobody else around for him who actually gave a darn, so I had to fly over there to see and support him. I planned to bring him home with me after he had recovered from his surgery. I had just been through a lot of trauma, and I was in no physical or emotional state to be getting on a plane—but there was literally no other option.
The flight was only around two hours long, but even that was way too much for someone as weak and frail as I was at that time. When I was waiting in line to board the plane, I could immediately feel myself getting dizzy and panicky—but that got a lot worse when I got onto the plane and when it started to take off. I started having a full blown panic attack, hyperventilating and crying in my seat.
I was sitting at the window, and there was a rather large man sitting in the middle with his daughter on the outer seat. The man noticed me crying, and he and his daughter switched seats. She took my hand and said something along the lines of “You’re okay, we’re here. There’s no need to hold this anxiety back, we’re not going to judge you, just let it happen and everything will be alright.”
She just hugged me and told me she’s so sorry while I cried. Once we landed, she and her father drove me in their car directly to the door of the hospital my dad was admitted to (over an hour away). They even offered to book me a hotel for a night or two, but thankfully I already had my accommodations sorted out. I do not know what I would have done without those people that day. We have each other on Facebook now, and she still occasionally checks in with me to this day.
20. Something to Be Thankful About
When I was in first grade, my mom was really struggling financially. She mentioned something about how hard Thanksgiving was going to be to another mom. Well, the week before Thanksgiving, there was a raffle where we could win an entire Thanksgiving dinner. My teacher gave every student two cards from a deck. When she gave me mine, she kind of said “wait” and checked them before she gave them back to me. I won the raffle. Even if she hadn’t checked the cards, I’d have suspected something. I never win anything.
21. Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover
In 6th grade, I witnessed an incredible act of kindness. I was on the bus, 2 stops away from my stop on the way home from school. There was a man just lying on the sidewalk outside the bus, which had stopped. I noticed the bus driver wasn’t on the bus; I looked outside and saw our bus driver, being the nice lady she is, rush out of the bus, check his pulse and call an ambulance.
The bad part was that some people on my bus were saying cruel things, suggesting that the man was an addict, and that it was no use trying to help him. The next day, our bus driver heard the nasty rumours and decided to set us straight. “The man from yesterday didn’t overdose on anything; he went into diabetic shock.” She basically saved him twice. You never know a person’s story until you ask.
22. Good Neighbors
We were on our honeymoon and didn’t have a lot of money, but we managed to afford to stay at our favorite inn in our favorite coastal town. Someone found out we were newlyweds and anonymously paid for our stay. Just something super small that made an enormous difference in our lives. I plan on paying it forward at that same place one day.
23. The Hike to Friendship
When my dad was in college, his car broke down one night on the side of a road that was not very busy. The first person going by stopped and gave my dad a ride to a service station. It turned out that the guy who picked my dad up also attended the same college and they started hanging out. Now, close to 40 years later, they’re still very close friends.
24. Star Teachers
I’m epileptic. Once, during a school assembly, I had a seizure, and it was pretty bad. When I woke up, the first people I saw were my English teacher smiling and telling me it would be okay, and my health teacher, who had apparently been the first person to run and get me help. I was in a super emotional state after the seizure, and I began to cry and say, “I’m sorry.”
I was hushed by my teacher and helped down the bleachers. My health teacher, my English teacher, my choir director, and the school counsellor all stayed by me until I got into the ambulance. Later on, my English teacher also ended up sending me a very nice video of her and all of her family wishing me well. I was so grateful for all of the support!
25. A Cinderella Story
I accidentally stumbled upon a wedding dress I loved for $60 with only three weeks left until my wedding. I called around everywhere but no one could help me outand do the alterations. I was so upset. I was discussing this with a coworker on our hospital lunch break in a quiet area and a nurse from the cancer center pops around the corner and says, “I do alterations! I’d love to look at it!”
Taken aback, I ask her what she usually charges for her work. She says, “Eh, $50.” This is extremely cheap for wedding dress alterations. I accept her offer, get her number, and we arrange for me to bring it in on our lunch break the next day. She had me do several fittings, just to make sure it’s perfect. She even purchased additional material for part of it. Then I discovered her secret.
During those times, we spoke about our lives, and she told me that her mother passed this winter. They used to sew together, and working on projects like this makes her feel close to her mom again. On the day I pick it up she hands me the dress with a huge smile. I try to give her the money and she won’t take it. She says it’s on her, in honor of her mother. I broke down and we both cried together. I promised to pass on her good deed one day.
26. Like a Speeding Bullet
When I was nine or ten, I missed the school bus. This big guy picked me up and ran towards the bus screaming to try and make the bus stop. It eventually did and he put me inside of it and then dipped, I couldn’t even say thanks. And I was a chubby one no less.
27. What Might Have Been
When I was 16, a stranger made all the difference. I worked at a frozen yogurt store and had to close late a lot (10:00 p.m. or 11:00 p.m.) by myself, no manager, supervisor or co-worker. One night, five minutes before close, a woman who worked next door at the veterinary clinic walked in for her fro-yo. As she was paying, another man walked in but was being really suspicious, just walking around and not buying anything.
The woman asked me quietly if I was alone and I said yes, so she nodded and just stood in front of the cash register with me. Eventually after realizing that she wasn’t leaving, the man left without buying or saying anything. I thanked her and locked up the store. I think a lot about what could’ve happened if she didn’t stay with me, and am really grateful for her.
28. Just a Real Good Guy, No Strings
When I was 18, my cousin and I went to a nightclub way out in the suburbs. We had a huge bust-up, and she left me stranded with no money and a flat mobile. A guy I had seen around for a while found me crying at the curb, and he offered his couch to stay on, and money for the bus in the morning. So, we cabbed it back to his house, and his mom was lovely. But the next morning it got better.
The next day, he decided to drive me home to my place rather than leave me at the bus stop. A fifty-minute drive. He didn’t once try to hit on me, he was just there like a good guy would be. No, I didn’t get his number. I should have, though. Silly me.
29. Up in Flames
My parents once bumped into a lady while they were traveling and got talking to her. She told them her horrific story. Her house had just burned down, her husband was gone, and she had no family or friends locally. She was outside my parents’ hotel bawling, standing around her car with her kids and not knowing what to do.
They had made it out of the burning house with nothing except the clothes they had on. The kids had no shoes, she was in a nightgown and wasn’t sure what she was going to do for several days until she could contact distant people and get help. My parents had a car full of stuff from their travels, including clothing they had bought for my nieces and nephews.
They let her kids pick through it for shoes and shirts, gave them all the food in the cooler they traveled with, handed her all the travelers’ checks they had on them, and then dad went inside to pay for a hotel room for a week for them.
30. What Goes Around Comes Around
I was 16 and driving over to my girlfriend’s house on a rainy Saturday afternoon. There was a man biking in front of me and when he went to get onto the sidewalk, he completely wiped out. I pulled in to the closest driveway and saw that his bike was mangled and his arm was bleeding. I threw his bike in my trunk, gave him my old sweatshirt for his bloody arm, and drove him home.
When I dropped him off, he gave me his card. It turned out he was a dentist at a local research hospital. Well, fast-forward to when I was 19, and the same man took out my wisdom teeth for free as part of a “research experiment.” Not sure if there was actually an experiment that they needed wisdom teeth for, but just goes to show that good things happen to good people.
31. Kinder Kindness
I worked at a museum that ran a summer camp, and I was in charge of the little kids. I had a kid in my group that came from a wealthy family. He brought a massive Megazord Power Rangers toy one day to play with. Then that kid did something so beautiful it made me cry. Another kid in my group tripped, scratched his knee, and started crying.
The first kid stepped in while I was taking care of the blood, and after noticing that the crying kid had a wolf on his T-shirt, asked, “Do you like wolves?” The crying kid answered while sobbing, “Yeah…a lot.” Then the rich kid proceeded to snap the right leg of his Megazord off. As we watched, he transformed it into a purple wolf.
He gave it to the other kid and let him keep it just because he liked it. The kid stopped crying and cracked a smile. They became best friends from that point on.
32. One Day Stand
I was talking to some random guy in the bar one night, and he mentioned that he was having surgery the next day and didn’t have someone to pick him up afterward. He was just grabbing a bite to eat at the bar before his cut off time when I arrived. His girlfriend had just broken up with him and moved, and his backup driver fell through.
The poor guy just needed a hand. I ended up driving him there, sitting with him before he went in, calling his parents when he got out, sitting with him in recovery, picking up his post-op medication, driving him home, and making sure he was okay before I left. Seemed like no big deal at the time. Never saw him again, and that’s okay.
33. Monkey Business
My family and I were homeless when I was about to turn 13. My youngest brother is also severely autistic. We were standing in line for lunch at the local soup kitchen, which opened at 11 am. We had arrived at 6 in the morning, and were decently close to the door—there were only about 20 other people in front of us at the time.
My father had just returned from taking my youngest brother for yet another walk around the block, as he had begun fighting and biting himself in frustration. After another few minutes in line, it was clear that he had more than reached his tiny 9-year-old limit and had begun to lose it. People were staring at the fuss he was making.
There were a couple of guys who were dressed in ratty t-shirts, jean vests covered in patches, and plenty of veteran memorabilia, mostly from Vietnam. Each of them had either an old, dirty backpack or a trash bag, which held all of their personal belongings in the world. One of the men, in a wheelchair and missing a leg, saw my little brother’s frustration.
After hearing my mother apologetically explain yet again that he had severe autism, the man rolled up to the five of us—two parents and three young kids, all sunburnt from the Florida sun with no place to call home—and unhooked his one treasured possession. He had a little stuffed monkey that was hooked onto his steering portion of the wheelchair. It was the only clean thing about the man.
He gave it to my little brother, and my little brother immediately hugged it and cuddled with it, calming down. I’ll never forget the man’s words: “He looks like he could use it more than me.” It was his one and only real, treasured possession and he gave it to a little boy that was crying. Now, I’m in a position to give back, and I do whenever I can, but I don’t think I could ever repay that single gesture.
34. A Christmas Miracle
I’m 19 years old. This happened to me just a few days ago. I went to a diner and, while ordering some food, I couldn’t help but notice that the waitress was starting to cry. I asked her what was wrong and she started explaining to me that about 20 minutes before I came in, a few customers flew the coop without paying the bill. She told me how it was likely going to come out of her paycheck and that she may even get fired if she tells the manager about it.
Not to mention the fact that she had children and Christmas was coming up. This deduction from her paycheck was the very last thing she needed. After I finished my meal, I paid the bill and left her a $50 tip (everything that I had in my wallet) and a note saying “Merry Christmas.” I quickly walked out of the diner before she saw and never told anyone about it.
35. Making up for Lost Time
Growing up, my birthdays were kind of trash. We weren’t poor, but my parents would say things like, “we’re going to Hawaii for your birthday…” I was so excited, until: “Oh sorry, not you, just your stepfather and I.” Cue 12-year-old disappointment. Since my beautiful wife found this out, she has gone out of her way to make my birthdays amazing.
From a surprise trip to San Diego—from Northern Canada—to eat sushi at Nobu, to a surprise party with my friends, even though we all live and work in different cities, she’s totally gone the extra mile. Because of her, my last seven birthdays have been more than enough to make up for any disappointment that I might have felt as a kid.
36. A Friend in Need
My dad ran into an old high school friend that he hadn’t seen in years. He learned that the man had cancer, that he had no family except a son in college in another state, and that he was basically dealing with his condition all by himself. So my dad started taking him to his appointments and out to lunch, just to keep him company and help him through.
He even organized how to take his crazy number of prescriptions, since it was confusing to figure out when to take them when they all had different times and requirements; apparently there were about 18 of them in all. Then, when his friend succumbed, my dad helped his son do all of the end-of-life arrangements. My dad is my hero. He is such a giving person and I strive to be like him.
37. Paxton at Peace
My husband and I adopted a Great Dane and named him Paxton. He quickly became the equivalent of our first child. Pax went everywhere with us, including family holidays like Christmas and vacations. Pax was more human than a lot of humans I’ve met. He would actually hug me when I was down, loved everyone, even cats, and slept with his stuffed frog for years.
Paxton passed suddenly last year of a heart attack. We came home to find him on the floor of the living room. My husband and I were devastated. We can’t have kids, and Pax was our baby. In the 18 months before Pax passed, I had also lost my mom, my grandmother, and uncle. I think something in me broke. I couldn’t function. I took a week off work.
When I returned, I had an envelope waiting for me on my desk. Its contents made me burst into tears. It was a thank you card from the local animal shelter. My co-worker had donated $150 to them in Paxton’s name. I was floored. I knew he was a dog, and didn’t expect anyone else to get that he had been like a child to me. That one gesture was so kind and needed. She will never know how much that meant to us.
38. Christmas Miracle
When I was about five, my mom was single and in nursing school. She had very little money, and we lived in this tiny one bedroom apartment. This elderly Greek man who lived in our apartment complex dressed up as Santa on Christmas Eve and brought me presents. I can still remember him saying, “Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!” in that wonderful Greek accent. That was one of the sweetest memories of my childhood.
39. Living a Double Life
My great uncle was a quiet guy. He wasn’t around much, as he lived pretty far away in a small town. But when he passed, a LOT of people showed up for the funeral. Way more than we had expected. It turns out he had spent a lot of his time volunteering, visiting with old folks, talking with people in hospice, visiting the food pantry, etc.
He never told anyone he knew about any of it. When he passed, all of the people from these different volunteer organizations showed up to pay their respects, along with the people who he had helped through his work. The entry line for the funeral was all the way out the door and around the block at one point. Rest in peace, uncle. You’ve done well.
40. Always Pay It Forward
When my daughter was in the hospital with a brain tumor last year, many people sent money (total of $800ish) to help with our costs. We initially didn’t think we were going to need any money, but over the three weeks we were at the hospital, the money was a godsend for meals, buying clothes rather than leaving to do laundry, etc.
When we were a few days from leaving the hospital, I spoke with another family that was really struggling because they had to drive two hours each way every day to come visit their grandchild, who was really sick and wasn’t going to make it. We had a couple hundred dollars left of our gifts, so we stuck it in an envelope and asked the nurse to give it to them later.
The nurse wasn’t supposed to tell them where the money was coming from, but they did, and the grandparents tracked us down and tried to give the money back. We of course refused and the family gave us a nice thank you note. I didn’t want them to know where the money came from, and I didn’t want any thanks, but in a way I am glad it played out the way it did.
Seeing the impact the money had really resonated with me, and has encouraged me to be generous any time I can, even with small gifts. It changed my life, and I know without any doubt that the $200 stuffed in an envelope changed their lives and was one of the only bright spots in their time at the hospital. It wasn’t about the money. It was about having a stranger care about them in their time of need.
41. A Child’s Love
I got ready to go to work one day and wasn’t feeling super stoked about things. On my way out the door, my 5-year-old daughter handed me a simple note that she had written on the front of an envelope. It said, “You are the hero of my life dad.” Nobody will ever top that compliment, and I sincerely hope I live up to it for her.
42. Puppies Make Everything Better
We recently got a puppy, I walk him every day. Along the way, there is always this homeless guy sitting on the corner. Koda (the puppy) never hesitates to run up and start jumping around the man on the ground, he loves everyone. Today the gentleman without a home said Koda and I visiting has become the highlight of his days.
He went on to say how not many people even make eye contact with him, how he feels invisible in a sea of people and sometimes goes without anyone to talk to for weeks. It’s not really an act of kindness I suppose, but I’m glad someone adores the puppy as much as I do. Especially someone who hasn’t had much good to feel these last few years.
43. Secret Santa
I absolutely love doing adopt-a-family programs during Christmas. I don’t have kids of my own, so I love the opportunity to buy gifts for kids in low-income families. My favorite family of them all was single mom who’d just turned 18. Her son was three and she’d moved into her very first apartment. She had nothing but two bare mattresses on the floor, one for her and one for her son.
She was working a job and was trying to save up for things for the house. Her wish list was heartbreaking. She wanted blankets for them both, a pan to cook with, and a Spider-Man toy for her son. That’s it. I was single at the time, and supporting myself, so I only had a couple hundred to spend, but I was determined to make it go as far as possible.
I got her a complete comforter/sheet set, a pillow, and a full set of cooking pans. Then I found the coolest thing for her son: it was a fitted sheet that turned his bed into a Spider-Man tent! It was awesome! I found a big Spider-Man stuffed toy for him as well. I also found a huge book with over 100 full-length bedtime stories. I got the usual boring stuff of course, clothes for her son and a gift card for a holiday meal. But then I found the ultimate deal.
It was a clearance TV/dvd combo for less than $100! I knew money was tight for them, so I included a note in her Christmas card letting her know that she could rent her son videos from the library for free. I would have given anything to see their faces; I hope that it made her first Christmas on her own a little more happy.
I found a wallet in a taxi on the way home for a night out. Went out of my way to get in contact with the guy and get his wallet back to him the next day. Turned out he was a big football star and gave me the money that was in the wallet as a thank you!
45. Just a Little Short
I was at Goodwill waiting for my wife after paying. Saw a lady in line dump out her change purse on the counter, and I heard the cashier say it’s not enough. I knew what I had to do. I walked over and asked how much she owed. 40¢. So I put 40¢ into the lady’s hand and said have a nice day. She seemed equally happy and embarrassed. I hope she likes her new outfit.
46. Diamond in the Rough
It was my first job in the field of conservation, and my boss was really tough, but secretly was a kind man. I had a six-month-old son and I was a 20-year-old single mom. I had just found out some bad news, and I was really sinking financially. My son’s dad was dipping in and out. I wasn’t emotionally mature enough for a relationship at the time. I had too much on my plate. One thing after another.
I was also the only woman on a crew of seven men, working to plant trees, fix United States Forestry Service roads and restore habitats for ten hours a day. I was too girlie to relate to the guys, but too manly for my girlfriends. Nobody understood. I felt hopeless. One day I cried on lunch break; it was all stacking up and I was cracking under the pressure.
After work the next day, as the other crew members filtered out of the work trucks, my boss said to me, “Just wait for a second.” I was irritated, because I thought he was going to ream me out for my work performance, which he frequently did, for everyone. Instead, he waited until everyone was gone, pulled out his wallet, and took out a wad of cash.
He said, “I don’t know how much is here, because I just grabbed a handful. But I want you to take every dollar in my wallet and help get yourself out of that hole you’re in.” It’s been almost a decade since then, and my life has been completely turned around. I’m deliriously happy now. That gruff, sour old forester made a big change in my life, one that reached far beyond that moment of desperation and generosity.
47. Supportive Stranger
I broke my foot while bouldering a week into my semester abroad. I had never been out of the country before, so I was absolutely panicking. A total stranger came right over after I fell, recorded important information for the paramedics, and spent the next ten or so minutes while waiting for the ambulance asking me questions about my studies and my research after I mentioned that I was a student. His kindness was able to calm me down even though I was absolutely freaking out.
48. To Teach Is to Touch Lives Forever
I was in a car accident when I was four years old that left me in a coma. But that wasn’t the worst part. My sister, who was also in the car, succumbed to her injuries the next day. I was unconscious when my sister’s funeral was going to occur, which meant I would be left alone at the hospital. My preschool teacher offered to sit with me and hold my hand at the hospital, so that my parents could attend my sister’s funeral without having to worry about me being alone. It is the kindest gesture anyone has ever done for me.
49. Brother From Another Mother
Fresh out of a relationship that left me with almost nothing, my college roommate offered me a place to stay. When I showed up without any furniture, he immediately went and found a bed, sheets, etc., and set me up basically with a makeshift bedroom. I swallowed my young man pride and hugged him. I remember telling him I’d never ask for help again.
He simply said “Anything for a brother.” He probably doesn’t remember that night, but I’ll never forget it. I’ve helped four people with places to stay to get back on their feet over the years, and it honestly humbles me anytime I help a friend in need because of him.
50. The Music Man
I was running and dropped my MP3 player without realizing it on a busy city street. A nice older man literally stopped in traffic and flagged me down. When I didn’t respond because I was spacing out, he honked and waved his hands for like five seconds. People were beeping for him to go, but he was persistent. When he had my attention, he said, “He has it! He has it! Hurry!”
I turned around and ran two blocks and caught up with a guy who had just picked it up and tried to fast walk away. Thanks dude.
51. A Helping Hand
When I turned 18, I was struggling immensely with my mental health. One day it all got too overwhelming and I left the house, thinking I’d end up at the train tracks. My mind was in an absolutely terrible state. I got to the park and just couldn’t keep walking, so I sat on a bench and manically wept so hard that I couldn’t feel my body, and I was shaking uncontrollably.
My mom was calling me to try to find me, but my phone was about to run out of batteries. Many strangers walked straight past me, or threw me a look of disgust. Then one lady, who lived on the street next to mine, stopped and sat beside me. She just sat and hugged me. She eventually called my mum and told her where I was before my phone finally ran out of battery.
Then she stayed with me until my mom arrived and took me for a long drive to calm me down. I still see the woman around when I’m back in my hometown. I don’t know if she remembers sitting with me, but I do, and her presence that day meant a lot to me. I’ve always wanted to let her know that I appreciated it a lot and will never forget it.
52. Surprise Bodyguards
A stranger saved my life. My best friend and I about a creepy man following and staring at us. We were getting ready for a concert and decided to take some pictures outside. I’d say we were about one mile from the venue. My best friend started taking pics of me, and a man on a bike stopped next to us. He said, “There’s a creepy man staring at you. He’s around the corner and keeps looking. I would take your pictures somewhere else. Be careful.”
The the guy left. Soon enough, we learned the disturbing truth. That man was right. We caught the creep peeking around the corner. We left. The sad thing is, we ended up warning several people about the same thing. As we got closer to the venue, several creepy older men were staring and following 12-13-year-old girls. All the concert goers banned together to keep each other safe.
53. Benevolent Bus Driver
After school one day, I was supposed to have practice, but it got unexpectedly canceled and nobody told me until it was too late. My school days ended at 3:10, and busses left at 3:20. It was like 3:18, so I scrambled to grab my stuff and find my bus, which changed places frequently. I couldn’t find my bus, and all of the busses started leaving.
Now, I could have just walked home, but it was raining and I had a ton of stuff with me to bring home. My old bus driver, who drove another bus, saw me stranded and crying. So, she pulled over and lingered so that I could hop on. She waited with a bus full of kids waiting to go home, for a kid who doesn’t even belong on her bus anymore. That is one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.
54. Regardful Recruiter
When I was enlisting into the army, my recruiter picked me up to go over some paperwork in his office, which was close to the downtown area of my city. On the way there, we passed a homeless woman sitting on the side of the road. Without even a second thought, my recruiter whipped the car around and pulled through a nearby drive-through.
He bought a huge meal with a large cup of water, and raced back to where the woman was sitting. The look on her face when he pulled up and handed her the meal through the window was something I will never forget. He didn’t have to do something like that, but he did it out of the kindness of his heart. He’s one of the best leaders I know, and I try to emulate him in everything I do.
55. The Musician’s Message
I had a breakdown in the middle of one of my college classes. I had been depressed for several weeks, feeling like I wasn’t good enough to be in my major. Really I just felt worthless. I was doing a performance-based test in front of the whole class, and I was doing terribly. I was really angry with myself for not being better.
My professor interrupted me midway through and asked, “Do you want to try it again at the end of class?” I nodded, went back to my seat—and immediately started crying uncontrollably. I couldn’t help it or stop. I ended up excusing myself to the bathroom so that I wouldn’t cry in front of the class and embarrass myself further.
I performed again at the end of the class, and my professor was really patient with me and gave me feedback. The thing that really got me was before he dismissed the class, he wrote something down in the binder I had open in front of me. When I read it, I’ve never felt so touched. It said, “You are a strong, smart musician, and you have a bright future ahead of you. I believe in you, and I’m here for you.”
I cried even harder after that, but in a good way. I had never had a teacher care about me that much, or show me so much compassion. That one message genuinely turned around my entire year and made my sense of self-worth improve exponentially. I still think about it all the time, and I’ll be forever grateful to that professor.
56. Help Needed
I worked at Apple and had a homeless gentleman come in and ask for a job. Even though he tried on several occasions, he couldn’t get a job, unfortunately, because he had no phone and no home. He eventually got into a halfway home, and a bunch of us at the store got together and got him a cheap phone and a SIM card, paid for six months. He eventually got a job and isn’t homeless now!
57. More Where That Came From
I talked to this dude whom I barely knew after class one day during my first year in college. I told him that I live alone and have been eating cereal for the last two days, in a joking manner, because I didn’t have time to go grocery shopping due to the exams. He brought me two plates of delicious butter chicken with rice the next morning.
He said his parents run an Indian restaurant, so he brought some for me. He told me I can ask for more whenever. That was the first time anyone outside of my family has gone out of their way to do a nice thing for me. It really touched my heart. Unfortunately, he dropped out a few weeks later, but I will remember him forever.
58. Into the Mouths of Babes
Right after I had my first son, I had a ton of formula that a friend gave me and I couldn’t use it because my son had stomach issues. So, I went on a website where you could give away/ask for things you needed for free. A young woman that lived in the same small town that I did at the time, messaged me and said she could desperately use the formula because her boyfriend had just left her.
She gave me her number and I called. She said she’d have to wait to pick it up from me until she could find a way to get closer to town. I could hear her holding back tears when I asked if we could bring it to her. We got her address and realized she lived in a very desolate, poor part of the town. It was in a trailer in the middle of the desert, with no public transportation ran anywhere around.
So, I decided we could do more. We went through the pantry, fridge, and freezer, trying to find anything we could give her that we couldn’t use/ didn’t need. We ended up with three big bags and a laundry hamper full. When we got to her house, she invited us in. She had almost nothing in her home. No TV, one couch, and the kitchen was empty.
We had to run out to the car a few times to get it all. She was shocked that we brought her food too. She hugged me and started to cry. She said, “Thank you. I didn’t know how we were going to eat for the next few weeks.” Then she made her son a bottle right away. It broke my heart cause I could tell they were both very hungry.
59. Guardian Angel
I was around five-years-old at the time and was running around playing. I had wandered outside into the street and almost got hit by a car when this guy that was watching me picked me up at the last second. My parents were grateful to him and he basically became my babysitter as he would always sit on his porch reading. He recently passed, and I miss him all the time.
60. All Dogs Go to Heaven
I work at a veterinary clinic, and was helping a client when he noticed that our euthanasia candle was lit. They asked if someone was saying goodbye, and I sadly nodded. His next act brought tears to my eyes. He handed me his credit card and said he’d like to pay for them. Trying not to lose it and burst into tears completely, I ran his card through and thanked him.
He waved his hand saying that he’s been in that position plenty of times, knew how difficult it was, and wanted to help. He wished to remain anonymous and left with his pet.
61. Grocery Gratitude
It was the first day of isolation here in Michigan, and there was a line in the grocery store that wrapped around the building. I spent 90 minutes waiting to check out. Eventually, I was next in line, but the lady in front of me had a problem with her card: it was denied. After a few failed attempts, the cashier asked her to step aside and call her bank.
They set her groceries aside. She only had necessities, nothing fancy; jugs of water, rice, macaroni & cheese, everything generic brand. As I was checking out, she was sitting on a bench trying to get through to her bank without having any luck at all. So I asked the cashier to check out her groceries with mine, which she did.
As I checked out the cashier told the woman, who was still waiting on the phone, that she was good to go. She was confused, and the cashier told her that I had paid for her groceries. If I had lifted a car off of this woman, she couldn’t have looked any more grateful. I once rescued a claustrophobic woman who was trapped in an elevator, and her look of gratitude didn’t even compare to the look of appreciation I got from this woman at the grocery store.
She said thank you and asked my name. I told her, said something cliche about needing to stick together, and we went our separate ways. It was only $80, it wasn’t a big deal to me. But, in that moment, on that day, when things were falling apart and people felt scared and powerless, after waiting so long, and not knowing what to do, my small act of kindness had been a big deal to her. I was so glad I was able to help out, even that little bit.
62. The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship
When I was in seventh grade, I was getting yelled at by some mean people at lunch one day. I had been tormented for years and was getting tired of it. After the mean kids went away, I just sat down on the floor where I was and ate my lunch, stifling tears and sniffles. A group of sixth-graders came up to me and asked what was wrong. I told them what had happened and they offered to have lunch with me. I accepted. Then we just started having lunch every day.
63. Catch These Leaks
I once failed a test in college and was really upset. As I was taking the bus home, I was trying really hard to hold it together long enough to not cry in public, by trying to hide my tears with my sleeve. A girl walked over, handed me a tissue without saying a word, and went back to her seat. It was so nice to have a stranger help me keep it together without trying to pry into my business.
64. One Good Turn Deserves Another
Around 2008, I helped a guy go through TSA at Laguardia airport in New York City. He had never flown before, and had no idea what he was allowed to take on the plane or what the whole security process entailed. Security told him he couldn’t use the plastic bags he had all his stuff in. What rattled me was the fact that he was shoving pairs of very new Nike shoes into a trash bin.
I couldn’t fathom why, so I went over to ask him. He explained his situation. I told him that if he held tight, I’d go through security, buy him a carry-on, pass it over to him, and let him use it to get his stuff through. He handed me a hundred dollar bill and I gave him my crochet project bag to hold as insurance. I got him a suitcase, went back, gave him it along with the change, and showed him everything he needed to do to get through.
He thanked me and we hugged, each going our separate ways. My flight turned out to be delayed by three hours at the last minute, and I was already exhausted. I used my purse as a pillow, covered myself up with my coat, and fell asleep against a wall. When I woke up, there was a fuzzy travel blanket, a convertible neck pillow, an eye mask, a bag of cookies, and a little plush stuffed dog with a note tucked in his collar.
The man I had helped stuck this gift between me and the wall and never woke me up. I ended up traveling for 11 more hours and that thoughtful little package saved my sanity. Random airport dude, I’m glad you got to keep your kicks, and I still have the puppy! I named him LG.
65. Auspicious Timing
It was Christmas Eve and I found out that a friend of mine had literally no one to spend Christmas Day with. I lived far away and had a family of my own, but I wanted to help him somehow. I was browsing Facebook and suddenly saw a friend of ours post that he had room for a spare person on a trip. I told my first friend to go grab his passport and pack to go away for a few days, and then sent him to Amsterdam on Christmas Eve with some spending money. Dude was in tears.
66. The Gift of Giving
When I was 17, my mom signed us up to deliver presents for one of those giving tree places. The lady who she was taking presents to lived in a tiny town in a rural part of our state that was about an hour and a half from where we lived at the time, but also just happened to be close to where we had lived when I was little.
I tagged along with her because she asked, and I didn’t want her to have to drive all the way out there alone on Christmas Eve. I didn’t want to go though; I hated the tiny town we were going to. I was a moody teenager in a perpetual bad mood, and I thought I had better stuff to do. Anyway, we got out there and found the place.
It was a tiny, one room shack in among tiny one room shacks behind what used to be a little hotel on the side of a rural highway. We knocked on the door and this little woman, probably in her mid-late 20s but so careworn that she looked closer to 40, opened the door. She invited us in and we offloaded the goods, like three bags of presents. Her three kids were peeking at us from behind a curtain, and she had them come out to say thank you.
She was beaming, couldn’t stop thanking us. The kids were ecstatic. They weren’t getting presents at all until we knocked on that door. It was like 10pm Christmas Eve, and we had basically saved Christmas for them. As we left I was quiet until we got in the car. Then I turned to my mom and told her that I was glad she had brought me.
She started crying her eyes out and just grabbed me and hugged me tight. I offered to drive home and she agreed. On the way she told me that when I was little, we had been in that family’s position. We had gotten gifts from that same giving tree organization for years. I knew we had been poor, but never realized how poor. I still consider that my best Christmas. I have no idea what I got that year; but I remember giving those kids and their mom a good Christmas, and that’s so much better.
67. Lovely Distraction
She consoled me in an airport bathroom when I was crying my eyes out at having to leave my husband behind in another country for who knew how long. She was a cleaner who just saw that I was crying, and without a word grabbed a giant wad of paper towels and handed them to me. She then guided me to a little seating nook and just sat with me until I got myself under control.
She talked about the latest movies and how she hated all the new pop songs, and just kept talking until I stopped crying. She saved me that day.
68. Judgement-Free Inspiration
When my son was a baby I was really nervous about nursing him in public. Early on, a man had seen me trying to nurse him and he kind of scoffed and rolled his eyes and made a disgusted face at me and I just could not let it go. I was at a park trying to coordinate getting him latched under this blanket and was almost tearing up in frustration when an older woman came up.
She sat next to me and said, “They can be so picky, can’t they?” And then patted my knee gently. I just nodded and said, “Yeah,” and she said, “Looks like the blanket is giving you a hard time. Can I hold it for you?” And then she just gently lifted the corner that kept falling off my shoulder and held it so it wouldn’t slip, and I could use my free hand to get us all set up.
I was shocked and stunned and thanked her so much, and once we were settled, she just said, “Not a problem, dear, we all could’ve used a hand with our babies. Maybe someday, you won’t feel like you need the blanket!” And then she just left. I never, ever forgot her.
69. Don’t Shoot the Messenger
There was a man on the train I was on giving grief to the ticket attendant because he had incorrectly purchased a ticket and she had asked him nicely to buy a new one. Long story short, he asked for her full name and said he wanted to write a complaint. I felt bad for her, because she was just doing her job and had done nothing wrong.
I left my spot and went on a mission to find her. When I did find her, she looked absolutely miserable. I asked her nicely if she had any spare paper and a pen, and she brought it to me. I then wrote a recommendation from myself to her boss saying that she had been a great host and was doing a great job. The smile on her face was beautiful.
70. Family Is What It’s All About
Back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, my dad was dying of cancer. My mom was having to spend time at the hospitals or waiting for his treatments, so she got some projects to keep her occupied while waiting and worrying. She began working on a flannel patchwork quilt. Whenever I could, I would bring her a small bit of fabric to work into the quilt. Sometimes, I would get off the bus early so I could walk by a fabric store and bring her a new color.
Years passed after my dad passed. Mom had put the quilt away. I thought it might remind her of all the scary, sad, and heartbreaking times she had hand sewed it through, waiting for the next awful thing to happen on my dad’s way out. I did not ever bring it up. But, a decade later when I was having my first Christmas away from my birth family, she sent me a package to open.
It was my first Christmas together with my husband. My family lived several hundred miles away and I felt sort of sad, but also very much in love. Inside the package was the quilt, completed. She had written me a note saying that she had continued to work on it after Dad passed, knowing one day that it would be mine. I will keep that quilt all my life and hopefully pass it on to my grandkids someday.
71. It’s a Doggone Miracle
My neighbor’s dog fell off a cliff, and they could not afford the surgery to save his life. We put $500 in an envelope on their back step, with a note that said it was to help their dog. It was not enough for the whole cost, but we heard the vet took it as a down payment. The dog lived for quite a while after, and they loved him so much.
72. Destiny at Play
I went to pump gas today. The card reader was broken, so I went inside to pay. As I opened the door, I saw a mother holding her daughter’s hand saying, “come here honey,” as she inched towards the cashier. She then pulled out a crumpled dollar bill and some change and told the cashier, “$1.47 on 3 please.” When it was my turn, I added another $10 to her pump.
I tried to do the deed unnoticed, but her $1.47 worth of gas ran out before I could enter my $10 worth. This resulted in me going outside and telling her to try the pump again. She knew it was me, and was very thankful. I can’t help but wonder if the exchange was meant to be. How often is a card reader broken at a gas station forcing you to go inside?
Had that not been the case, I wouldn’t have been presented with the opportunity to help. Before the mother left, she told me that she hopes someone does something nice for me in return. Though that would be appreciated, the only thing I truly hope for in return is to be presented with more opportunities where I can be of help. I have yet a single regret: Only adding $10.
73. Tears of Absolute Joy
I was in line at a combo grocery/drug store. Woman in front of me had a cart full of staples. Nothing but necessities. My heart sank: she was paying with cash and food stamps. The bill was 10 bucks more than she had. I gave her a twenty, told her to keep the change. I could see her eyes welling up as she thanked me, but I just told her to pay it forward if she’s ever in a position to do so in the future. She got the biggest grin on her face as she wiped away her tears.
My brother and I were driving home to my parents’ house, and it was about a five-hour drive from our college. We came up a hill in a fairly rural area and I saw something weird on the side of the road; a motorcycle abandoned on its side. My brother said it was nothing, but I stopped anyway because I had an eerie feeling. I soon found out I was right.
It turns out that a 65-year-old man had crashed his motorcycle and was unconscious in the ditch. Since there was a hill right there and he was on the other side of it, he was pretty hidden and no one saw it happen. He was ten minutes away from his house too. I stayed with him until the ambulance came, and then checked in on him a few weeks later.
He had some broken ribs and was a little beat up, but he made it just fine. I think about him a lot and hope he’s enjoying his retirement and is staying away from motorcycles.
75. Take a Page From This Nephew’s Book
Back when my great uncle was alive, I used to go and buy these books about the Old West; cowboys and the like. Being an elderly man, he never really got much of a chance to go out and buy these sorts of things, although he loved reading and Westerns greatly. One day, I noticed that he’d began to re-read some of his old books, as he didn’t have any new ones.
I thought about it for a bit and came up with a plan. Every time I’d go to the Newsagents from then on, I’d buy two books. After getting a few, I’d bundle them up, go to his house, drop them on the doorstep, ring the bell and run. When I’d visit him later in the week, he’d always relay his theory on who was doing it, and how he was going to catch them.
76. Blood Isn’t Everything
My story isn’t that uncommon. I have young parents, they were 18 & 19 when I was born. They got married because they got pregnant and got divorced because they got pregnant and married. They just weren’t ready and way too young. It sucked. Eventually, my dad left the picture altogether, and my mom remarried. She dated this guy since I was 5 or 6, really young.
They got married when I was 9. He raised me. He’s my “true” dad. This seems to be rather common among people my age (23, almost 24). Then my mom and stepdad got divorced when I was 18. It was awful. Much worse on me than my biological parents’ divorce. I was so young when they got divorced (2 years old) and then I gained another “dad” pretty soon afterward—my stepdad.
When my mom told me that they were getting divorced, I was terrified. I’m an only child, I live in a relatively small town, and this all happened at the beginning of my senior year in high school. I didn’t know who would move out and where I would end up. They would fight all the time. For some reason, they’d wait until I went to bed and then start screaming at each other. I remember one night I heard something like this:
Stepdad: “Get your stuff and leave.” Mom: “But where am I supposed to go? What about my daughter?” Stepdad: “I don’t give a DARN where you go, but OUR daughter is staying right here at home. With me.” At first, I was a little angry that he thought he could make that decision for me, but after I thought about it for a bit, I realized the gravity of that sentence.
It was the first time I had heard him refer to me as his daughter. I still call him by his first name. Old habits die hard, I guess. And really…the main cause of tension between them was money related. He knew that and knew he’d be able to provide for me better than her. My mom is the most irresponsible person I’ve ever met when it comes to money.
She got my first car repossessed (I was “paying” for it. As in, I’d give her the money and assume she was making the payments. Nope. Pocketing that stuff. She also wrote thousands of dollars’ worth of hot checks to my place of employment, using my employee discount and my checks! I was a minor, so she had to be on my bank account.
I barely got away with keeping my job. There’s more, but that’s a different story for a different time. Long story short: my mom and I didn’t have the best relationship anyway. Months later, my mom was making plans to move in with my grandma in the neighboring “city” and was going to uproot me and transfer me to a new bigger school.
During Christmas break of my senior year…ugh. I told her that I wanted to stay with my now ex-stepdad. She didn’t know I had heard what he said that one night. She couldn’t believe I was choosing him over her. Also, when I was 19, I still didn’t have a car and my boyfriend at the time was driving me around everywhere…and his grandma had an old 1991 Cadillac DeVille she wanted to sell.
So, my ex-step-dad gave me $2,000 cash and told me to go pick it up. He just gave it to me. No questions asked, no expectation of payback. I still live with him rent-free, as long as I keep a job and stay in school and pay my own bills: new car payment (the Cadillac was awesome but just not cut out for driving all over the place in super-hot summers and a few pretty brutal winters.)
Car insurance, cell phone, etc. I think this has helped me be more responsible with money (definitely something I wouldn’t have learned with my mom) Anything I want I have to pay for myself, but I don’t have to pay for a roof over my head or a bed to sleep in or a shower to use. All because a man who had no genetic responsibility to me took me in anyway, and fought to keep me when my mom left.
I get to experience his generosity every day, and I’m grateful for having him in my life every day. My ex-stepdad is the greatest man alive. Be jealous.
77. Why Add to Their Problems?
Part of my job is to approve bank overdraft fees. Sometimes, regardless of bank policy, If I see something that suggests you’re in college or a single mother, I will refund the fees. I never tell anyone because I’ll lose my job.
78. Midwinter Miracle
At one point in my life, I was struggling so much financially that it was difficult to even gather up a couple of dollars to put gas in my gas-guzzler car. Consequently, I rarely had more than 1/4 tank, even in the winter. One day, I miscalculated, and I ran out of gas in the middle of town. I remember carefully walking on snow and ice to a nearby phone booth carrying my nine-month-old baby in his snowsuit.
I only had a handful of phone numbers memorized, and nobody I called answered the phone. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even have enough money for a bus. Out of desperation and feeling completely humiliated, I approached a stranger and asked for a couple of dollars so I could walk to a nearby gas station and buy some gas.
He told me a couple of dollars wouldn’t be enough, because they’d want deposit money for the gas can. I’m sure my face fell as I fought back tears and muttered, “Thanks anyway.” He looked at me a moment, and then said, “I’ll be right back. You stay here.” He left for a few minutes and came back with a full gas can. As he poured the gas into my tank for me, he told me the location of the gas station where he got it.
He then said, “I’m counting on you to return this gas can.” He drove away once I assured him that I would. When I got to the station about a half-mile away, the attendant told me that my “friend” had given him $40 and told him that it was so I could fill my gas tank and that he was to give me the change. It was like a miracle to me, and I started crying all over again.
79. A Tale of Two Roommates
I was having a girl over and it was my first time dating in many years. My female roommate who I am super close with was there as well and knew all about my situation. When I left the room for a brief moment, I accidentally overheard my roommate say “I know he’s shy and a little awkward at first, but give it a shot! He’s super sweet and really funny once he’s comfortable, and he’s definitely worth the effort!” Hearing that gave me a huge and much-needed boost, especially since I struggle with confidence and usually don’t like myself. Thanks, roomie. I owe you one!
80. Make My Day
I was at a store and there was a woman with two very small kids checking out. She had a bunch of groceries and a couple of toys for the kids. She went to pay and discovered that she didn’t have her wallet, so she told the cashier that she would put everything back. Her little girl, who was only about 2, started to cry uncontrollably.
The rough-looking man in front of me, who looked like he could have been homeless, went up to the cashier and told her that he was going to pay for everything. When the lady protested he said, “I don’t want your little girl to cry. This is my good deed for the day.” I almost cried too, as did the lady who was trying to buy her groceries.
81. Compassion in the Cake Aisle
Years ago, I was going to a family get together and I was told I needed to bring dessert. So, I went to the store and was looking at the cake mixes for an awkwardly long time, not knowing what to get. A lady walked up beside me and began scanning the options as well. After several minutes, I said jokingly, “Are you having a tough time deciding too?”
She replied yes, and explained that for the past fifteen months, she had been watching her diet and exercise and that she lost 100 pounds. I replied, “Wow that’s incredible—you should really be proud of yourself!” She replied with a shrug. I stopped her and said it again, because I really meant it. She started to cry. I asked why she was crying, and she said that her family and friends weren’t very supportive of her efforts.
I said, “Well I’m very proud of you!” and asked if I could give her a hug. She said yes, so we hugged right there in the middle of the aisle. Then, she said thank you and we parted.
82. Medicine Miracle
About 8 years ago, I had lost my job and was on social assistance. One day I went into my pharmacist to have my prescription filled. I miscalculated the total and I was about ten dollars short, but it was all the money I had to my name at that moment. Embarrassed, I was fiddling in my purse looking for coins when the pharmacist stopped me and said it was okay.
They just gave me the medication, no charge. A few weeks later I got a job, and upon receiving my first paycheck, I paid them a visit with a big box of chocolates and a thank you card. I tried to give them what I owed for my medication, and they refused it. What they did for me meant so much at such a dark time and I’ll never forget it.
83. Jesus Take the Claw
One of my most vivid childhood memories is of me at the local bar and grill with my parents, and I was like six and looking at a very specific doll in a claw machine. It was Tweety Bird in a spacesuit. I was so zoned out, I didn’t even know someone walked up until the claw came down, picked it up, and dropped it in the chute in one fell swoop. I turned around and couldn’t believe my eyes.
It was a man who looked homeless/transient taking the Tweety Bird out of the chute and immediately bending down and handing it to me. Neither of us said anything, just smiled at each other, and then he turned and walked out of the restaurant.
84. Girls Stick Together
A girl came up to me at the train station when a man was harassing me for my number and wouldn’t leave me alone. He was also generally being very creepy and asking what train I was taking. She said “Oh my God Sarah, it’s been so long! So good to see you! Come over and say hi to me and Jake!” I’d never met her before, but I was eternally grateful she saved me from a potentially very dangerous situation.
85. The Shoes off His Feet
My dad was working in construction in New York City in the early 90s. It was December and it was raining, so there was nasty slush everywhere. He saw a homeless guy outside the train station on his way home. The poor man was wearing no jacket, and had shoes with holes in the bottom so large that you could see his wet socks through them.
Dad gave him the boots off his feet, the jacket off his back, two extra pairs of socks he had packed with him, and a $20 gift card to a local chain restaurant that he had received for his birthday but hadn’t used yet. We picked my dad up at the train station, shoeless, socks soaking, with no jacket, shivering uncontrollably.
Despite all that, he was smiling and waving at us as we pulled up. We were poor growing up, so he had a lot of compassion for people who were struggling. He knew, as you will if you’ve ever had to buy them, that good work boots and a good winter jacket aren’t cheap buys. He saw someone who needed what he had more than him and gave it, just because he could.
88. Build Wallets, Not Walls
Last weekend I was downtown and found a guy’s driver’s license on the ground. I found him on Facebook and sent him a bunch of messages not to worry and that I’d return his license. We ended up running into him on the street. The look on his face when I asked, “Are you John Doe?” was priceless. His eyes went wide and asked, “How did you know that?”
I pulled the license out of my shirt pocket, he said “Dude!” gave me a big hug and thanked me. We are currently Facebook friends.
89. Consider Him Shook out of His Shell
In college, I saw an extremely obese guy who was very socially awkward and pretty much afraid of everything, slip and fall on a patch of ice outside of our dorm hall, right onto his back, completely destroying the lunch that was in his backpack. I normally would have just chuckled at the sight, but something told me to go help the guy.
While the rest of the onlookers just gawked at him, pointed, and mumbled, I went over hooked his arm and helped him to his feet. The poor guy had tears in his eyes from embarrassment, so I gave him a card for a free sandwich at Chick-fil-a and told him what my Dad used to tell me growing up: “Shake it off, bud, you’ll be fine.” I didn’t know how those words would come back to me.
After that day, I started seeing him around campus opening up and making friends. We never got close, but we’d always exchange a hello in passing. When we graduated, we were able to put a quote in our program about our college experience and he wrote something along the lines of, “To the guy who helped me up and told me to ‘Shake it off…’ Thank you.”
90. The Age of Good Company
I’m in AA, and none of my “normal” friends really know. About a month ago, a gentleman called the meeting place looking for a ride to the meeting. I volunteered to pick him up and to give him a ride home. When I pulled up to the address that he gave me, I realized it was an assisted living facility. He must have been at least 90 years old.
He began to tell me that his wife had just passed and that he really needs a meeting. Now, every week I give him rides to meetings, even if it doesn’t fit into my schedule. I’ve learned that when he has something to say, to just listen. Sometimes that’s all a person needs.
91. From Bad to Worse to Great
I was in Montana for work and decided to go to a discrete gay bar. Met this guy who I thought was pretty cool. We go back to his place and his roommates are there and everything seems cool. Well, after my second drink, I wasn’t feeling all that hot and decided to lay low when all of sudden one his roommates demanded that I drink another.
I tell her no. She tells me, “No, that wasn’t a question. You drink another or you leave.” It escalated so quickly I didn’t know what to do so I politely said, “Get lost,” and left. The thing, was my hotel was 15-20 miles away. I start walking back at 1:00 a.m. in the woods with no cell service and to top it off this was in October! It was 20 degrees out.
This old pickup truck in the opposite direction makes a u-turn and pulls up right next to me. This old man opens his door and asks where I was going. I told him and then added I don’t have any cash to give him for the ride if he’s offering. He tells me he wasn’t even thinking of asking for money from someone walking home by themselves at 1:00 a.m.
I hop in and we start talking and he tells me the heartbreaking truth behind his actions. A drunk driver fatally hit his son on this very road. Now he rides up and down the road when he can’t sleep. He looks out for people hitchhiking after the clubs to get them home safely.
92. A Home-Run for Altruism
This is what my uncle did for someone that we didn’t know about until the person he did it for told us at his wake. There was a single mom who did not have a lot of money, and her son loved baseball. My uncle was at a game, and so he managed to catch one of the balls that went into the stands and get it signed by one of the players.
He then gave it to the mom to give to her son and she told him, “Oh, he’s going to love you for doing this!” To which my uncle responded, “No, tell him you did it. He’ll think you’re the best mom ever.” He never told anyone that story and it wasn’t until that mom was at his wake that we found out. A real selfless guy, my uncle. It’s a shame he passed at 50. RIP Uncle Peter.
93. Put Some Spring in Your Bouquet
If I ever had 20 minutes to spare waiting for a train, I would go and buy some flowers from a stall near the station and just give them to anyone I saw. It really got my heart pumping and it was great to see how it made someone’s day (it also beat waiting for 20 minutes whilst doing nothing). One day I spotted a woman who looked incredibly sad with tears running down her face and a gaze which stared out at nothing, devoid of all hope.
I set out to brighten up her day. However, before I could bestow my gift to her, she passed through the ticket guard/barrier and onto the actual platform, which I could not get to. I felt certain that she needed these flowers and so I grabbed the attention of a man who worked at the station, pointed the woman out to him and instructed him to do pass them on. The gentleman was good enough to agree, and I watched through the crowd as he handed them to her.
She literally broke down. She looked so grateful and rushed forth to hug the man. Tears of happiness rolled down her cheeks as a beautiful smile grew from her face. I just watched from the crowd and have never felt better. I took this as my cue to leave and as I left, I truly felt like I had done some good. I still pass through that station wondering if I’ll run into her someday.
94. You Better RVSP
An elderly lady misdialed and left a voicemail extending an invitation to some event she was holding. She sounded so hopeful that it was heartbreaking to think she might feel rebuffed or neglected while not realizing they’d never received her message. I called her back to let her know she needed to recheck the number she’d tried calling so no one missed her event. It turned out that she was trying to arrange for her 90th birthday later this year.
95. I Remember This Song
A dear friend of mine’s father passed, and he left her his two guitars. When she was a little girl, she used to go to some of his gigs and watch him play. Her father was a giant of a man, but a real gentleman in every sense of the word. I met him once before he passed—when I shook his hand, my hand disappeared into one of the biggest fists I’ve ever seen.
She was an only child and loved to listen to her dad play his guitar. Soon after he passed, my friend got behind on her bills a little and was hurting for money. Knowing that I played guitar, she asked if I’d like to buy it from her. The guitar was a gold-top Gretsch, probably from the 1960s. It had been re-finished and customized some, really hurting its value in the vintage market.
I knew what it was worth, and I made her a fair offer (honestly, probably even a little bit more than it was worth) and she accepted. She said she hated parting with that guitar because it reminded her of happy times with her dad but was glad that she was selling it to me because at least she knew I’d properly take care of it.
About a year later at Christmas time, I called her and said I’d be back in town and would love to hang out with her for a bit because we live in different states and don’t see each other very often. We made plans, and I went over to her place. When she opened the door, I was standing there with a guitar case with a red bow on it.
She looked at me and said, “What’s that?” I said, “It’s my Christmas gift to you.” She knew EXACTLY what was in that case. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone break down and cry HARD like that, nearly uncontrollably. When she finally composed herself, I told her I wasn’t giving it to her as much as I was assigning her exclusive permanent guardianship of it, and I still reserved the right to play it whenever I wanted (wink, wink). She laughed, brought it inside, and we went out to lunch.
96. Love Thy Neighbor
My neighbors asked to borrow my truck one day. I told them no because I could not trust my truck due to the tires being bald. The next day, my neighbor called and said that he was getting new tires for his vehicle, and that I could have his old ones, since he knew I needed them. He told me to just show up at a certain tire shop and they would put them on for me.
When I got to the tire shop, I was shocked when they put on brand new Goodyear tires. I asked what had happened to the used tires I had been expecting to receive, wondering if there had been a mistake. The shop owner smiled and confessed that the “old tires” were just a story to get me in the shop. My neighbor had bought me a full set of new tires instead.
97. Secret Tipster
I had been working as a server for a while, and one day I was working with a co-worker who was pretty new. They’d sent most staff home because it was late. Then disaster struck. As it always seems to happen at those times, we got super busy. My co-worker was struggling and got a terribly rude table. They didn’t seem to understand that they weren’t the only customers in the restaurant or that we were understaffed, and it took a turn for the worse.
They made her cry and have a meltdown. We’ve all been there, so I took over the table and, after they left, put $15 on the table so that she would see she had received a “tip” from the table. I never told her that I was the one who put money on the table for her. Seeing her confidence grow from that was what I was hoping for. I got my wish.
When she picked up the tip, a grin broke across her face and she said, “Wow! I must not be as terrible of a server as I thought I was! Maybe I’m getting the hang of it after all.”
98. Mommy’s Little Depositor
In high school, I got a job in the summertime so I could buy nice school clothes and have fun with my friends. My mom was a single mom and worked a full-time job while raising my brother and I at this time. I used to hide money in her purse, sometimes $20, sometimes $100, depending on what I had. I never told anyone.
99. Scholarship Was His Greatest Duty
My grandfather was a professor at the University of Florida in the agriculture department. He was also a veteran of the Navy. One day, a student who was returning to school from being away on duty came to my grandfather’s office. The student told my grandfather he had to drop out of school to work full-time so he could take care of his wife and kids.
Well, my grandfather knew how important education was and wouldn’t allow it. My grandfather paid for this young man’s tuition, not knowing whether or not he would be paid back, without telling anyone. My grandfather passed a few years ago, and when his obituary was posted in the Gainesville newspaper, my uncle got a call from this student.
Apparently, the student finished his undergrad and ended up becoming the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. The best part is, my grandfather never told anyone about this story and none of us had learned of it until his passing. But this is just the kind of man my grandfather was. You don’t have to believe me, as I know this is a pretty crazy story, but I know it to be true. The student DID pay him back. There is still faith in humanity.
100. Angel in a Truck
My wife and I saved up to buy a nice (for us) grill years ago, but we never thought of how to get it home. We were trying to get it in the trunk of our little car, and were just about to resort to opening the box it came in to put it in piecemeal when a guy who’d been sitting in his truck eating dinner in the parking lot came up and asked if he could help us transport it to our place.
We lived 20 miles away, and he was still more than happy to drive it to our house and drop it off and refused any kind of payment for helping.
101. The Weight of the World in Charity
I had known that a girl in my school had been battling with anorexia and other eating disorders for years. Apart from maybe one party, I’d hardly ever talked to her, but I really liked what I’d seen/heard of her. This year she went to do a charity run for a group that helps people with eating disorders and she posted it on her Facebook page asking for sponsors…
55 days into the 60 days she had to get sponsors, and still, no one had supported her. I donated 100% of her target anonymously. To this day, she still doesn’t know it was me, and I’ve told no one.
102. The Serve, Protect, and Feed
I am an officer. Got a call about a kid at a train show at a museum in town. Found him, he was autistic and the jerk friends who took him to the show had left him there. He couldn’t get ahold of anyone to come to get him. I drove him around with me for about an hour while we kept trying to call his parents. My bank account was negative at the time, the day before payday.
I had $10 for dinner. Took him to Subway and fed him cause he said he had not eaten all day. I went hungry till 6 AM the next morning.
103. Not-so-Sketchy Sketch Artist
I was in a diner with my wife and son and a few friends. At some point during the meal, I notice a guy from across the room staring at us. This is Texas, and the friends we were with are gay, so I thought maybe the guy was offended and couldn’t stop himself from staring. This guy walks up to the table as he’s ready to leave, he hands me a piece of paper.
Without looking at it I said, “I don’t want that” thinking it was a religious tract or something hateful he’d written down. He puts it down on the table anyway, and says, “For you.” It was this amazing sketch of all of us, just beautiful. I ran after him and thanked him, and have had it on my bulletin board for years to remind me not to be a jerk and assume the worst. Thank you, kind artist.
104. Love Drug
My dad recently lost his job, and with it his health insurance. He had a heart attack last year and has to take an expensive medication as a result. A one-month supply is around $250 without the insurance to help. He went to his doctor’s office yesterday to find a coupon to at least shave off some of the cost. A nurse went in the back and ended up coming back with a two-month supply of free samples for him.
105. Giving a Classmate a Clean Slate
There was a student at my middle school who, for whatever reason, never had clean clothes and was thus the stinky kid of our school. He smelled like he never showered and there was an apparent lack of parental care. My mother is a teacher, so I always got to school very early. This kid rode the bus and also got to school early.
One day, after witnessing him get harassed about being the smelly kid, I asked my mom if we could do something to help. She gave me the ok to offer, and from then on, I would get his uniform he wore the day before, take it home, and wash it for him (I think he only had two outfits). At the beginning of each week, we would give him bath stuff to clean with. This went on for the entire seventh and eight-grade. I would always deliver his clothes to him early in the morning to save him any embarrassment. I hope this little act of kindness improved his life in the long run.
106. Like a Horror Movie… Kind of
Years ago, I was on a summer road trip with some friends from Dallas to Austin. On the way down, the battery meter on my dashboard started acting funny. Jumping up then dropping down, all sorts of weird stuff. We make it down to Austin and we’re supposed to go see my one friend’s show, but I say I’m going to run to an AutoZone and see about buying a new battery.
It’s 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. and I assumed all the mechanics were closed. I buy a new battery and install it in the parking lot, turn the car on, and it’s not the battery that was the issue. Darn. I go and meet my friends after the show and say we should leave that night instead of the next morning so we don’t need AC and can conserve juice.
We all pile in my car and get about 20 miles outside the city when my car dies. While we didn’t need AC, we did need headlights. We’re pulled over on the side of the road, my friend with the cell phone calls AAA, and they say it’ll be an hour or so before anyone is able to make it out. While we’re standing there on the side of the road, in the near pitch black, a truck pulls over in front of my car.
A man gets out and starts walking towards us. All of my friends take a step back, nominating me to do the talking. The man asks us what the problem is, I reply that my car’s dead. He says he has a tow chain in the back of his truck, and would be able to tow us to Dallas, which is about 200 miles away. This seems like a terrible idea, but we were young and dumb and said OK.
He says that he’s got a small trailer at his place about 50 miles away that we could use to tow my car, but until then, I’m steering a hollow car about three feet away from this guy’s bumper. Myself and my ex-girlfriend are in my car, and my other two friends are in the truck. It wasn’t until later that I learned the driver’s heartbreaking story. I got it from my friends who were riding with him.
Turns out, a year or so earlier he’d been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Instead of doing treatment he decided to accept his fate and spend whatever time he had left driving all over Texas helping people who were stranded on the side of the road. I can’t remember his name anymore, but I’ll never forget him rescuing us that night.
107. A Little Something Extra
My dad is a retired junior/senior high school art teacher. Every single morning for well over a decade, he packed an extra lunch and put it in a place in his classroom where a student whose family was struggling could take it without making a big deal of it. Eventually, when the older student graduated, one of his younger siblings started taking his class.
The kid would already know he could take the extra lunch bag without having to face talking to my dad about it, or being embarrassed in front of the class. I used to ask why Dad packed two lunches while I was growing up, and he would just say, “I sometimes get extra hungry.” My mom later told me the truth. He is such a quiet, humble, and extremely generous man.
108. The Key to My Heart
A deaf lady with a kid asked me for help because she had snapped her key off inside her car lock. I rang a locksmith for her, and it was going to cost like $150. She told me not to get him to come out because she didn’t have the money. She was just going to leave her car and walk home. But it was getting late, so I just gave her the money instead (She could lip-read).
109. Nothing More Cathartic Than Coloring
I was on what I call a rumpled suit flight—one of those flights on a Friday at 6 from NY to DC where most of the flight consists of business people in suits drinking $14 double whiskeys. A fellow rumpled suit sat across the aisle next to a mother and her kid. When she could the kid brought down her tray table and a coloring book and started coloring.
I didn’t hear what was said but at some point, the kid handed the rumpled suit a coloring book and they spent the remainder of the flight coloring and chatting. I was kinda like, “I want to color too.”