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Can You Do One Act Of Kindness This Week?

by Alex Iwashyna

in Charity, Holidays

By now, you’ve read about Kmart. Random people have paid off stranger’s Kmart layaway in time for Christmas.

The anonymous generosity is spreading from city to city, but the story that remains with me is of a woman who stood at the layaway line and paid for 50 families, 2 carts worth of toys and gave out $50 bills. It is not her giving that strikes me, but her reason: She gave for her husband who passed away earlier this year. The woman never gave her own name; she only asked people to “Remember Ben.”

This is the part of the holidays that I love — the joy of giving. The reminder of our capacity for love and caring. Now, I can’t stand around Kmart with my 2 little kids waiting for strangers or ask anyone to give away $50 bills, but I have another plan that will bring joy to a family most of us don’t know but needs us.

A 9-year-old girl in my community passed away from cancer in April of this year. I don’t know Abbie Waters or her family, but a fellow writer on does and the Waters family is asking for our help this first Christmas without her.

Angel Abbie

I cannot imagine coming down the stairs to an empty stocking when this sweet face once filled your life.

They don’t want money or meals. Abbie’s parents are asking people to do one kindness between now and Christmas Eve and to email the act to

The family will fill Abbie’s empty stocking with the emails of our kindness, and on their first Christmas morning without a little girl to bound down the stairs opening gifts and sharing Christmas day, the parents will read each of our good deeds and see how their baby is still creating so much joy in this world.

No one is asking for much — buy a friend who is struggling a cup of coffee, pay the toll for the car behind you or rake leaves for an elderly neighbor. I am trying to be open to my kindness opportunity presenting itself, but since I don’t like leaving my house, my backup plan is to donate to a charity in Abbie’s name.

I don’t know if kindness can change the world, but it can change one family’s Christmas morning. And that is enough for me.

Remember Abbie.

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Cheryl December 20, 2011 1

Oh Alex. So beautifully worded and such a great call to action. Thank you for helping spread the word…and memories of Abbie.


The Sweetest December 20, 2011 2

Well, if I wore mascara it would be totally ruined. What a beautiful way to celebrate a little one who undoubtedly did bring joy to everyone she met.


Mandy December 20, 2011 3

In tears. And now searching for a way to do a random act of kindness.


Katie December 20, 2011 4

I love this story! What amazing people the Waters must be!


Kate December 20, 2011 5

This is so heart-wrenchingly sweet.

Earlier this week, I heard on the radio about a woman who adopted a salvation army angel, an 8 month old in need of diapers, in memory of her own baby who died. I don’t know the details, but there is something awesomely powerful about taking personal loss and turning it into positivity in the world.


Katie December 20, 2011 6

consider the Sluiters in on this. No better reason than to put a smile on an aching momma and daddy’s face.


Jessica December 20, 2011 7

I can barely get through this post. That empty stocking? It’s awful. My heart goes out to Abbie’s family and I will absolutely do an act of kindness for her.


paula December 20, 2011 8

I am going to do this. A friend of my sons went through three relapses of cancer and pulled through and is going strong today. But, many times we pictured what it might be like if it went the other way – and I can’t even really imagine. Thank you for posting this!


Sally Brown December 20, 2011 9

Thank you so much for sharing this story. I think there a lot of random acts of kindness that don’t get picked up by the media. I also believe that kindness and love can change the world.

I will take the challenge. Thanks for sharing, Alex!


MommaKiss December 20, 2011 10

I’ll email her now. What an incredible way to think of their child.


Jessica @FoundtheMarbles December 20, 2011 11

That’s beautiful. We’re doing an act of kindness for each day of Hanukkah so I will be emailing those to the family. Thanks for the information. What a beautiful way to honor that beautiful girl.


Meghan December 21, 2011 12

I was reading TheBloggess a few weeks ago and she posted this link. It’s a great website where people can post their wishes- some are bigger or require money, but some are just asking for prayers or a word of support and kindness. It’s a great website to look at and consider helping out!


TheKitchenWitch December 21, 2011 13

Oh man. This post is both inspiring and painful to read. Consider it done.


Kristin @ What She Said December 21, 2011 14

You’ve convinced me.


Abby December 21, 2011 15

This post absolutely moved me to tears. And, today, action. My email will be sent soon. Thank you for sharing, Alex.


Lady Jennie December 21, 2011 16

I am so saddened by their loss. I will find something to do in her name.


julie gardner December 21, 2011 17

Oh my.

How can a person not be moved by this?

I’m speechless. And will be following through on this.

For sure.


Skye December 21, 2011 18

I’m crying at work. Thank you for sharing Abbie’s story. I will find something to do in her honor.


Jennifer December 21, 2011 19

This is absolutely beautiful. I will definitely be doing a random act of kindness for Abbie and in memory of my mom this week. I’m so glad Julie Gardner shared this on twitter or I never would’ve known about Abbie or your great blog.

All best!


Carol Obrochta December 21, 2011 20

My daughter volunteers as an ESL teacher. On Monday, our family held a party for her students and their children. We served fresh pineapple, dates, grapes, veggies, hummus, challah, and cake. At least 45 refugees from Burma, Somalia, Iran, Pakistan and other countries at war attended. Jonathan the Juggler entertained, everyone danced, and there was laughter and joy. We knew Abbie a bit from the pool and the school, and I know she adored community and celebration. Her joie de vivre serves as a reminder to keep a spirit of play in our lives.


Laci December 21, 2011 21

I love the Kmart stories. I love that some people or someone has done this for so many families arcoss the country. I know it was heartwarming when our local news station interviewed the manager of Kmart in our town. I love volunteering it is so beneficial for them and me. Such a great way to spend an evening!


caitlin mckee December 21, 2011 22

this is awesome! what a great idea, and so glad you shared it!


Dorothy Brooks December 22, 2011 23

Rest in peace. Your family have a beautiful Guardian Angel watching over them…. Thanks so much for sharing. God Bless You…….


Sarah December 22, 2011 24

Thank you for writing about this and bringing to our attention. What a wonderful idea to remember Abbie by!


Mary December 22, 2011 25

So beautiful Alex! It pulled at every single one of my heart strings. I actually made a OOAK owl pillow for a little girl sick with brain cancer a few weeks ago. I’ll email that to them. <3


Connie Jakab December 22, 2011 26

Beautiful to hear this. Stories inspire stories. I pray that this sparks fires of generosity to all who read! Thanks for sharing!


Mary December 22, 2011 27

Alex, your words are so beautiful and heartfelt! I recently made a special owl pillow for a little girl with a malignant brain tumor, and I have already sent an email to the Waters. Thank you so much for sharing this! <3


Mary December 22, 2011 28

I didn’t think my other reply posted up top. Sorry about the repeat comment. ;)


Anna December 22, 2011 29

What a beautiful idea. Thank you for telling us about this courageous family.


Nancy C December 22, 2011 30

Thank you so much for sharing this. I bought a cup of coffee for the person behind me. For Abbie.


elaine December 22, 2011 31

We lost our son eight years ago and in lieu of flowers we asked that friends perform a random act of kindness for a stranger —I still find comfort and in some cases, comic relief from hearing some of the attempts to do just that. As time goes on, may you find comfort in knowing that many people are saying a prayer for you and your family. I try to do an act of kindness every day–tomorrow will be for Abbie.


Late Enough December 26, 2011 32

I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for passing forward kindness for your son and Abbie.


Naked Girl in a Dress December 23, 2011 33

I am going to write about this today. In addition to writing my own act of kindness to the family today, I hope I can get a few readers to join in as well.


Jay Brown December 24, 2011 34

I was moved by your story and Abbies wonderful life. I used the Kmart story and waited for an elderly lady after she made her last layaway payment. I gave her $200.00, told her Jesus loved her and so did I ! She started crying and gave me a hug like a linebacker ! What a feeling. God bless you all this Christmas. Love, Jay


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