Project 32!

For my birthday last week, I decided I wanted to do something totally different.  I wanted to give this year instead of receive! I decided to do 32 Acts of Kindness! I have to say, it was the BEST way to spend my birthday. It was such a fun and emotional week.

Each act of kindness had a corresponding element of my life for which I am grateful.  Some of these cost money, but many were absolutely free and very easy to do. Here they are, in the order I did them:

1. Left a big tip for Marco

I am so grateful to be able to take such awesome vacations every year! Kevin and I love to travel. Over Thanksgiving we went to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. While there we had the same waiter over and over. He was great! He remembered our orders and was a great server. We heard that most of the hotel staff only earns $4 a day, so for breakfast, we decided to leave him something extra.

2. Donated to 2nd Harvest

I am so grateful to amazing food in my life. I decided to donate to 2nd Harvest because for every $5 donated, Second Harvest Heartland will distribute 18 meals to those in need! You can donate online, by phone or by mail. Regardless of the method, your gift will make a difference in the lives of our hungry neighbors!

3. Help a small business by leaving a great Yelp Review

I am beyond grateful for Within Reach Learning Center! I love owning a small business, and I love to shop small! There are so many businesses that I frequent all the time that I love. So I decided to take the time to write them a great Yelp Review.

4. Leave business recommendations on Facebook

On the same note of shopping small…I love my hair dresser and the girl who does my facials! They are both wonderful ladies who provide amazing services. So I decided to leave them both a Facebook recommendation. I highly recommend them, and I am grateful for wonderful people to do my hair and care for my skin. Call Kellie for your next hair appointment! You will not be disappointed. 714-319-1148

Also for a wonderful facial that is priced amazingly, call Val at Rescue Skin Care!


5. Donated clothes and shoes

I LOVE to shop! I am so grateful to be able to buy clothes so often. I have seen these pop up donation bins for months now, and I decided to bag everything up that was ready to donate and actually use this service. It couldn’t have been easier! I vow to use it more often.

6. Donate bags of books

As a reading teacher, I am beyond grateful for books!  I have tons of books that can be donated. So I bagged them up and headed to the Mission Viejo Library. They have a great used book store. The books there are so cheap! You should check them out, especially for kids books.

7. Donated food, bags, toys, and newspapers to animal shelter

I am beyond grateful for my dogs! They are the loves of my life! It makes me so sad to think there are so many animals without homes. If I could, I would adopt them all! We went to the Mission Viejo Animal Shelter to drop off food, bags, toys, and newspaper for the animals. When we got there, I heard all the pups barking, and it made me so sad, that I couldn’t go in. I think if I went in, I would have walked out with 30 dogs! So I sent Kevin in.

8. Kari’s chalkboard

I love being an aunt! I am excited to watch my new nephew grow. Each month, my sister is documenting his milestones on a chalkboard to share with family and friends. My sister is a little artistically challenged. 🙂 So I helped her create a great 3 month update.


9. Pay It Forward: Emily Giffin

I am so grateful to be able to sit down, relax, and read a book, and I love Emily Giffin’s books! They are so fun to read. She recently started a program through her website for those who cannot afford her books. Basically, after we are done reading them, we Pay it Forward to someone else. I found this girl on her site who attends law school in Los Angeles, and with her tuition she isn’t able to afford Emily Giffin books, so I packaged them up and sent them to her. She seemed very grateful!


10. Left $25 gift card in a Target cart

I LOVE Target, and I am so grateful to be able to buy clothes, food, home decor, and just about everything else there. So I decided to tape a Target gift card to a cart, for someone to find. I was super excited to do this.  The cashier was excited too. He figured I was not from Orange County because he had never heard of someone doing something like this. I figured the person who found it would be excited too. A friend and I taped it to the cart, and then stepped back and waited. Quickly, a woman grabbed the cart and saw the gift card. She read the note that said: “Enjoy this Act of Kindness…Pay it Forward.” But then she didn’t even smile or look around. She looked completely unfazed. I was disappointed. I was hoping for a smile at least.

So I ended up leaving. Then I realized I forgot to take a picture of it. So I called my friend and asked her to look for the girl and see if she could get a picture. Luckily, she found her. Then the girl proceeded to tell my friend that her husband had just lost his job, and that is was so grateful for the gift card. She started crying, and then my friend started crying too! It was emotional, and I know that gift card ended up in the right hands! Thank you, Kathy, for going back!

11. Paid for someone at Starbucks

This was fun! I love Starbucks! I went in and paid for my coffee and then paid for the next person to come in. The cashier told the lady who came after me to “thank that girl in the aqua shirt because she just paid for your coffee.” The customer was so surprised. She came over and ended up chatting with me about how she is a teacher, and that very day she was teaching a lesson about paying it forward! She was excited to have been a recipient and to report this back to her students. She promised to pay it forward the next time she went to Starbucks.

12. Bag of food for mom’s dogs

I am so grateful to my mom that she cares for my dogs like they are her own!  They love her so much, and they love going over there! (especially Chip!) It is so great when we can go on a trip and know that they are cared for and loved completely. I know it is a lot of work though because with our 2 dogs and her 3 dogs..they go through a ton of food! So I bought my mom a big bag of the BEST dog food to share with her dogs.

13. Created a Pay it Forward Chain

I am so grateful for great family, friends, and students. So I wanted to create a Pay it Forward chain. I asked all my friends and family to participate and do something nice for someone else in honor of my birthday. I wish more people participated, but I had a friends who put a gift card in a Trader Joes cart, paid for someone’s Starbucks, donated clothes, took their sister on a date, and put up a neighbor’s Christmas lights.

Then with my students, I had each of them come up with 6 things they think they could do for someone else. It was super fun! The kids all have such great hearts. My students made dinner, walked a dog, donated toys, gave their teacher a card, gave their teacher flowers, made their siblings bed, picked up trash, planted a tree, and much more!! It is amazing to see this pay it forward ripple effect. Here is Tavin, who donated toys to the animal shelter. He was excited to participate, and I am thankful for his mom sharing this picture with me. 🙂


14. Card to my uncle

I am grateful for a great Uncle! He is someone I do not get to see as often as I would like, so I thought it would be fun to write him a sweet note.

15. Card to a loyal client

I have amazing clients! I am so grateful for the support and loyalty of my clients. Within Reach Learning Center would be nothing without them. My business relies solely on referrals, so it is so important to have such great clients. I have had one family that has been at my center for years and years! They are an amazing family! I am so grateful for them being so loyal to Within Reach for so long, so I sent her a little note thanking her!

16. Praise a client for their child

I work with so many students…about 175 weekly! I see such great parenting all the time. I recognize this often in my thoughts. But I thought it would be so great to take the time to praise a parent for their child.

I got an amazing response from the parents. It brought me to tears to see how touched they were that I took the time to do this. This was so easy, but yet it was extremely moving too.

17. Starbucks for Crossfit trainers

I am grateful for such great Crossfit trainers! They push and motivate me more than I could ever do on my own. They hold me accountable and they create great workouts. They are so difficult, but they get me through it on a daily basis! So I decided to give them some Starbucks cards to thank them for their hard work!

18. Did a “Kevin” chore

Kevin is the best husband ever! We mesh so well. I am so grateful for his help on a daily basis. He works all day and then always comes home and helps me in any and every way possible. So I decided to do the trash for him. This is one thing I never do, and he is not a big fan of doing it. He was pleasantly surprised when he came home and it was already done for him. 🙂

19. Donated to Laura’s house

A girl at our Crossfit, was organizing a holiday donation basket for Laura’s house. So I thought this  a great way to help! We bought a Kohls gift card, books, stuffed animals, and a scarf. Laura’s House is such a great organization.

They are changing social beliefs, attitudes and the behaviors that perpetuate domestic violence while creating a safe space in which to empower individuals and families affected by abuse.

20. Bought Anna bandanas and pens for her Girl Scout project

I am so grateful for a wonderful assistant. Anna used to be my student about 8 years ago, and now she works at Within Reach Learning Center! She is such a hard worker, and the kids LOVE her! She makes my life and center more organized, and she takes care of many of the things I simply cannot get to.

She is an amazing girl. In her personal life, she is doing a Girl Scout project called “Teen Packs.” She is creating teen packs that include hand picked items to provide for a teen’s specific needs. They are sent to teenagers in destitute areas. The first teen packs will be sent to Haiti around Christmas. Each teen pack includes 2 composition books, 2 washcloths, toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, 4 pens, a bandana, calculator, band-aids, soap, chapstick, a written inspirational note, and a home-made friendship bracelet! Isn’t that amazing!?

So to help out I donated colorful pens and bandanas. I was so happy to donate these items to such an amazing girl and an amazing cause.

 21. Adopting a family for the holidays

For the past 3 years, Within Reach Learning Center has adopted a family for the holidays. It has been amazing to see how many people contribute and help those in need. This year, we are adopting 2 families! On the top of their lists…warm clothes. This breaks my heart to hear, but I am so happy to be able to organize this and be able to help out.

You can adopt a family too! Check out South Orange County Outreach for more information:

22. Programmed Kevin’s car for garage

Kevin recently got a new car, and we tried program the car to open the garage. However, it was too difficult and he gave up. So I decided to make sure I could figure it out for him. It was a success!

23. Treats for students

Normally people bring me treats on my birthday, so I decided to flip it and bring my students a yummy birthday treat!

24. Returned shopping carts

The whole week, no matter where I was, I returned each and every shopping cart I saw. Many of the workers collecting the carts out in the parking lot seemed very thankful. This is so easy, we should all be doing this each day.

25. Donated to St. Jude

26. Cupcake for Mrs. Anna

I am so grateful for a wonderful math teacher at Within Reach Learning Center! She is such a great asset to Within Reach. The kids love her and they are learning so much from her.

Mrs. Anna has a MAJOR sweet tooth. So I decided to share my favorite cupcake place with her. Just a small treat to thank her for her hard work.

27. Picked up trash

Everywhere I went the whole week, I picked up every piece of trash I saw. This is something I try to do anyways, but it is an easy way to keep your neighborhood clean and help mother nature.

28. Left a surprise present


29. Donated gas

I have very grateful to have a nice, reliable car, so when I recently saw a woman who was paying for gas with coins, so I donated gas to her.

30. Printed extra coupons for someone at Michaels

I love to find coupons, and I am grateful for discounts. When I find a great coupon, I always try to print extra copies to hand out to other customers. It is such a great way to pay it forward all year round. This time, I had a fabulous coupon for Michael’s, so I printed a few extra and handed them out. The other customers were so grateful and really took the time to thank me. I love doing that for others!

31. Taped coins to a vending machine

As a special treat, I taped coins to a vending machine for someone. This idea came from a student of mine. 🙂


32. Paid off two layaway accounts at Walmart

For my final act of kindness, I went to Walmart and paid off two layaway accounts. This was one of my favorite ones to complete. While this was the most costly item on the list, it was totally awesome. Walmart allows anonymous donors called “Layaway Angels” to donate funds towards someone else’s layaway contract. Recipients’ names are never disclosed, and donors can opt to have their funds donated toward accounts with children’s clothing or toys.

The cashiers were so surprised and appreciative. They said that working in retail was difficult because they do not often see kindness in others. Many of the cashiers gathered around and helped me find a Layaway account that was filled with kids goodies including Christmas toys, pajamas, shoes, etc. I really want to pay down someone’s layaway again! It was such an awesome thing to be able to do.

So there it is! I completed all 32! It was such a wonderful way to celebrate my birthday. I hope I made many people smile!

I hope I have inspired you to Pay it Forward as well!



Dec 07, 2012 | Category: Uncategorized | Comments: none


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