At the beginning of 2009, Pastor Dave Ferguson went to a Kinko’s store with his Starbucks drink in hand. One of the employees joked, “Hey, where is mine?” Dave responded, “What do you want? I’m buying!” He noticed two other employees and offered them drinks, too. “You would have thought they won the lottery!” he said. Afterwards Dave wrote his story on Twitter and reminded readers that a small act of kindness can make a big difference.1
But the story doesn’t end there. When Scott Couchenour read of Dave’s experience, he started a Facebook group called the 365 Club.2 The premise of the club was simple. Those who joined committed to carrying out 365 acts of kindness in 2009. On New Year’s Eve, the 365 Club celebrated its first birthday—with 3.6 million acts of kindness achieved. Many members posted their experiences.
Michelle: “I waited until around 2:30 a.m. and went to the parking garage in my building. I found the dirtiest car, washed it, dried it, and left a note on the windshield that said:
Make This World a Better Place, Pay It Forward.
Deb: “I can’t tell you how good it feels in rush hour traffic to let just one person go ahead of me.”
Steven: “I drilled out some bolts on a Honda for a friend. Got a metal splinter. It didn't hurt too badly. The act of kindness felt better.”
Louise: “My daughter and I will be making a difference in one little girl’s life today when we deliver a big bag of winter clothes and some shoes.”
Tina: “Last week I gave strangers at the store $4.00 so they could pay for all their groceries. It wasn’t much—but they were appreciative.”
Kelly: “Washed windshields at a gas station last week for free.”
Robin: “At a DQ the other day. As I was leaving I paid for the order for the next drive thru customer. The cashier looked at me as if I was an alien.”
The 365 Club is repeating the challenge in 2010 with 9,989 members. And I’m now one of them. The evening after I joined, I was standing in line at the grocery store with my loaded cart. I noticed the young man behind me had only one item—a small bouquet of flowers.
And I remembered.
“Why don’t you go ahead of me,” I offered. “You only have one item and I have a lot.”
He looked shocked, asked if I was sure, and moved ahead. After paying he said, “Thank you. I just moved here from across the country.” He smiled and walked away.
I think Greg had it right when he posted: “In the end, I think we agree that the lives we touch while we’re here is what it's all about. At the end of your days, you won't be thinking about that antique table you got a bargain on. I suspect the lives you've touched will still be bringing a smile to your face.”