One characteristic of the middle school set (at the least the girl side of it) is the propensity toward selfishness. There is a lot of thinking about THEMSELVES; what they're going to wear, what their hair looks like, what someone else's hair looks like compared to their hair, who their friends are, who likes them, who they like...I'm pretty sure it's "normal" and I'm PRETTY SURE they grow out of it. That said, when a "normal" American girl wants to spend her 13th birthday planning & performing random acts of kindness with a group of her friends and then they all actually have FUN doing it, it's pretty heartwarming.
The girls had a sleepover and then spent the morning planning out their day of giving. The Birthday Girl had already asked guests to bring at least one of the following: blank note cards & envelopes, a roll of quarters, gently used blankets, jackets & shoes, canned food and $5-$10 each so they were already armed with a few ideas. They decided to write notes to leave wherever their adventures took them...over 65 notes of kindness and encouragement when they were finished.
Once the adventure began, the girls really got into it. They started really paying attention to people...cashiers on a smoke break, the custodian at the shopping center, parents with crying babies, children on the playground. Here is the list of 13 things these girls did in honor of their friend's 13th birthday:
- Left handwritten notes in cards on park benches, cars and restaurant tables. They got really bold and started handing them to people they felt led to encourage or thank personally ("Thanks for working at my favorite store. You do a good job and I love this place.").
- Handed out water bottles to joggers, walkers & bike riders (their favorite was the lady whose job it is to stand on the side of the road and wave at cars to advertise a new pizza place. She was quite the dancer and had worked up quite a sweat!)
- Loaded quarters into soft drink, gumball and game machines at a grocery store.
- Dropped off blankets, jackets & shoes at the homeless shelter.
- Donated canned food items to the local food pantry.
- Taped microwave popcorn bags to Redbox Movie machines.
- Paid for someone's ticket at the movie theater (they had fun secretly watching the guy's reaction when the woman told him his ticket had been paid for).
- Dropped change around a playground for children to find.
- Handed out balloons to little children shopping w/ their parents.
- Purchased & donated coloring books and crayons to the waiting room at the hospital.
- Left tokens for games taped to notes on games in the arcade.
- Left dollar bills in their favorite books at the book store (originally wanted to do this at the library but it was closed).
- Bought a $5 gift cards and handed them to people walking into Starbucks and Cold stone Creamery.