There’s never a wrong time to spread kindness, and the world could certainly use some right now.
1. Share the gift of reading by donating some used books to the nearest Little Free Library. With 90,000 locations worldwide, you’re bound to stumble onto one. Or start your own! Just be sure to sanitize any books you donate or take.
2. Somebody sick? Skip the get-well-soon card and send soup instead. You can order a care package from Spoonful of Comfort (from $70) with homemade chicken noodle, rolls, cookies, a personalized note, and a keepsake ladle.
3. Turn over a new leaf and send a plant instead of flowers. Houseplants have been shown to boost mood and fight fatigue—and they last way longer than a bouquet. To find the right one, order from The Sill (starting at $14), a company that delivers plants across the U.S. and promises to be a “plant parent judgement-free zone,” providing care instructions and access to a support team for those with not-so-green thumbs.
4. Write a positive online review for your favorite small business. Just a few glowing words can have a big impact for a mom-and-pop shop.
5. Return a dish (like your friend’s casserole you’ve had for two months) with something delicious inside. Coordinate a contact-free handoff for extra safety.
6. Compliment a stranger: Don’t just think, “Those shoes are soooo cute.” Say it—even if you have to yell from across the street!
7. Send a card that gives back. At Lotto Love ($20) you can buy a greeting card with two scratch-off-style tickets. Scratch to reveal a charity that gets a donation. Every card’s a winner!
8. Give your mail carrier a gift card to a local coffee shop. Leave it in your mailbox with a note thanking them for their work. (Note: The U.S. Postal Service allows employees to accept gifts with a value of $20 or less.)
9. Give public-school teachers a hand. The DonorsChoose website lets you support a classroom with crayons, books, funding for field trips, etc. Just search by school or project, and give a little or a lot! Bonus: You’ll get a thank-you note from the kiddos you help.
10. Track down a former teacher and send a letter, an email, or even a DM letting her know how she’s positively impacted your life.
11. Welcome new neighbors with a printout of helpful info, like garbage pickup days, the closest dry cleaner, and the name of the best Thai delivery place.
12. Lighten the load of families with sick kids by having a pizza dinner sent to a Ronald McDonald House. Contact your local chapter to coordinate the date and time.
13. Carry an extra unopened packet of baby wipes, for “that parent” we’ve all been at some point (or for anyone running low on sanitizer).
14. Check in on a friend who lost someone special a few months ago. This is often when the visitors and condolences begin to fall off, so a call or text will mean that much more. Same goes for anyone who might be feeling a little lonely right now, like seniors stuck in isolation.
15. Offer to take back the shopping cart for an elderly person, a parent with young kids, or anyone else who looks like they could use a hand. Just remember to keep a safe distance and sanitize afterward.
16. Hold the door open for someone. Even if you’re in a hurry. Even if they’re more than six feet away. (Hold it from the outside so you don’t come into close contact.)
17. Buy extra shelf-stable food at the grocery store to donate to your local food pantry. High unemployment rates are increasing food insecurity, so your donation will support the growing number of people in need.
18. Surprise someone with a playlist. Create one on Spotify, SoundCloud, or the easy-to-use website 8tracks.com.
19. Can’t get out to see the grandparents? Make them a photo book. Social Print Studio (starting at $5) lets you tap right into your Instagram feed or computer desktop to turn your favorite digital memories into high-quality photo books. They also bring the quirk with fun stuff like three-foot-long photo strips, stickers, and tiny, two-inch photo books (squee!).
20. Never miss a birthday. Enroll in Minted’s Greeting Card Subscription service and they’ll ship handpicked cards to you ahead of time so you can get them signed, sealed, and delivered before it’s time to blow out the candles.
By Caroline Colins McKenzie | Illustration by Joanna Neborsky
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of Reveal, Drew & Jonathan’s lifestyle magazine.