It’s so easy for us to look back at 2017 and focus on the negativity - the disasters, the destruction and the political chaos which seem to have engulfed so much of our lives. However, as the old adage so rightly states, where there is darkness you find light, and this year, since I started The Kindly Collective with a few close friends, we have been truly astounded by the kindness of others.
There have been the big gestures from people we don’t know, like American couple Halle and Jeff who decided to donate their entire (and pretty substantial) bitcoin pay out to a cancer research centre. There have been thoughtful moments from people we’ve always loved from afar, like Bill Murray who went to a concert and bought every single ticket, then handed them out to people in line, or Paloma Faith who made “kindness” a core concept of her new album release. There have been kind initiatives set up, like Kind Coats in Shoreditch, where needy people can pick up donated coats from an unmanned coat stand, and others with a surplus can leave theirs behind, or like Joshua Coombes who gives free haircuts to the homeless. But most of all we have been bowled over by the little, and often unrewarded, ways people have kept showing kindness to others (from the ones they love to complete strangers) every single day.
Charitable donations are of course always appreciated, and at Kindly (where we not only spread news of inspiring kindly deeds, but also support grassroot projects helping vulnerable women, refugee children and endangered species) this monetary support has been invaluable. However, there are so many other ways we can show our love and support for our fellow man, women, child and creature, from a kind word, to a kind gesture.
So we’ve decided to pull together a guide to “The Kindest Christmas Ever” with a few simple ideas of how to #LiveKindly this holiday season. Have a read, add your suggestions in the comments below, and most of all, enjoy a kind Christmas!
• Over 9 million people in the UK say they feel lonely. Why not invite someone who may be feeling lonely to join you and your loved ones at your xmas table this year – an elderly neighbour, a refugee or asylum seeker, someone from abroad who has only recently arrived.
• Commit to one random act of kindness for a stranger over the xmas period – it could be anything from donating a spare blanket to a homeless person, to buying a warm cup of coffee for a cold security guard or policeperson on duty. Use your imagination!
• Ask family and friends to make a charitable donation on your behalf as one of your xmas presents.
• Buy a hot drink and a meal for a homeless person – ask them what they’d like you to get for them before you go into a café/ Pret/ fast food joint for your own lunch – giving them some choice and dignity will be greatly appreciated.
• Buy locally! For every £1 spent with a small or medium sized business 63p stays in the local economy, compared to 40p with a larger business.
• Spend a few hours volunteering this xmas – soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and elderly homes often need an extra hand. There’s a nice list of places to volunteer here.
• Do a clear out of your clothes/ shoes/ warm blankets and take anything you no longer need to a local charity shop or homeless/ asylum seekers’ centre, or give directly to a homeless person you see every day (always ask them if they’d like the goods first).
• Reach out to an old friend you’ve lost touch with and tell them what they mean to you.
• Head out to your nearest park and feed the birds – ducks love seeds (and it’s better for their digestion than bread), but don’t forget the pigeons too! Just because they aren’t as pretty doesn’t mean they aren’t as hungry.
• Organise a fundraiser or start plotting one for 2018 – charities like us are always grateful for your fundraising initiatives, from cake sales to bike rides every good deed counts!
• Suggest a charitable collection in your office/school/ university instead of Secret Santa
• Encourage anyone you know buying a kitten or puppy to get them from their local rescue centre. Suggest they also consider volunteering for a few hours at the rescue centre too to give a little back.
• Pop to the nearest elderly or blind persons home, and ask them if they need an extra pair of hands this christmas, or if there’s anything they need?
• Wrap your presents in recyclable goods and be kind to the planet! Old magazines, photos, tin foil and paper bags all make great wrapping paper
• Pop to an elderly neighbour and ask them if you can run an errand for them.
• Be kind to yourself! You can’t help others if you’re run down, exhausted and stressed. Taking the time to give yourself a little love - mediation, a nice long walk, a much needed nap, a luxurious bath - can help you act more kindly not only to yourself but everyone else around you.
• Spread the word! Kindness really is contagious, encourage your friends and family to #LiveKindly too.
To keep getting inspired by the kind deeds of others visit www.kindlycollective.co or follow them @kindlyworld