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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

26 Acts

Two days after the Newtown tragedy, Ann Curry sent out the following tweet:

Those 140 characters have morphed into an online campaign that is heart-warming, inspiring, and a nice soul-scrubbing. A "pay it forward" for the digital world that can help restore our faith in each other.

Ann's initial idea for #20Acts - to honor the 20 first-graders who were killed on Friday - morphed into #26Acts to account for the 6 school teachers and administrators who died with them. Some have upped the ante to 27 to include Adam Lanza's mother, Nancy, who was his first victim.

The uplift has spread as more and more people sign on for the challenge. Ann repeatedly retweets what her comrades in compassion have been inspired to do: buy coffee or pay the highway toll for the person in line before them; drop off 26 pairs of new socks to a homeless shelter; bring a friendly dog over for a visit at a lonely neighbor's house. Big or small, monetary or not, people have brought comfort or a treat or a kind word into an unsuspecting recipient's life. Random acts of kindness in honor of the people who fell victim to a random act of violence.

I encourage you to participate, be it on a scale of 20 or 26 or 27. Just reading Ann's retweets has made me feel good; I can't imagine how much more meaningful it will be to actually perform an act of giving in those children's and those teachers' honor. The more of us who sign on, the more we prove to ourselves and to each other that we are, indeed, better than what we looked to be on Friday. And that if we are better, we can do better.

Whether you publicize your acts is your decision. On the one hand, it feels slightly off to trumpet a good deed out into the world; often the value of doing good is tied up in the nobility of doing it without the need for recognition. On the other hand, I really have found it gratifying to read about the good and the generosity that other people are putting out into the world, and I don't interpret it as bragging. If you decide to share your efforts, I encourage you to tweet them to Ann (@AnnCurry), and I'd also love it for you to tweet it to me (@AbbyDiaz1). If Twitter isn't your thing, I'd love to hear from you directly: email me at

In case you need ideas of how to participate, I'm listing below 26 examples of what I've read other people doing and some I came up with myself.

Thank you in advance, and hurray.

26 Ideas:
  • Donate blood;
  • Buy a cup of coffee for your school crossing guard;
  • Pay the metro fare for the person behind you;
  • Help someone bring their packages into FedEx/UPS/the post office;
  • Shovel someone's driveway;
  • Deliver a present to a single parent you know for them to give to their child/children on Christmas;
  • Pay someone's cab fare;
  • Bring lunch to a homeless person;
  • Make a donation to your favorite charity in the names of the 26 Newtown victims;
  • Host a play-date so that tired parents can have some downtime or go out for dinner;
  • Say something nice to someone;
  • Write thank-you notes to the CT first responders;
  • Give money to a layaway account at Wal-Mart;
  • Sign up to volunteer somewhere;
  • Bring food to a food pantry;
  • Give a ride to someone you know who doesn't have access to transportation;
  • Overtip your waiter/delivery-person;
  • Falcons friends: give your game tickets to a fan who's never been to a game in the Dome;
  • Pay a bill for someone you know who is struggling;
  • Drag someone's trash cans up the driveway for them;
  • Buy flowers for your assistant;
  • Make cookies for your mail carrier;
  • Donate your air miles to Make-A-Wish;
  • Work with your kids on developing acts of kindness they can perform;
  • Purchase a gift card for school supplies for a teacher; or
  • Put money in an expired parking meter.

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