This month, Bob at ChristianPF.com is hosting a 10 day give challenge. He challenges us to find ways to give for 10 days in a row, starting on October 10th (10/10). Perhaps coincidentally, this will overlap nicely with Blog Action Day, which falls on the 15th.
It doesn’t matter what the gift is: whether it’s monetary or not, whether it can be quantified, whether it’s easy for us to do or a real challenge. What matters is that it’s a gift.
Bob describes his reason for the challenge:
…most people really want to make other people’s lives better, but with everything going on all around us all hours of the day, we just don’t get a chance. This is an opportunity to choose, on purpose, to give of ourselves. There really are hundreds of opportunities that we overlook each day. My goal is to just grab hold of one of them each day.
He encourages people to sign up, but you certainly don’t have to do so or commit to anything to participate. You don’t even have to give every day.
This challenge both scares and excites me. On the one hand, I hear all these little voices in my head saying things like “You don’t have anything to offer” or “You’ll just screw it up by forgetting” or “You can’t afford it.” But the other set of voices is telling me all sorts of exciting things I could do and encouraging me that I would like to be the sort of person who does little acts of kindness all the time, whether they’re financial or something else.
Here are 10 ideas the excited voice has come up with for giving:
- Pay the toll for the car behind you. This one probably won’t work for me as I won’t be on a toll road, but it’s a fun idea nonetheless. I remember doing it once and telling the toll lady to tell the car “Merry Christmas.” I found this hilarious because it was March. Downside: Doesn’t work at tolls which don’t have a fixed fee. Toll person might keep your money. But it’s still fun and a kind act.
- Pay someone’s library fine. This is something I can totally do. More importantly, I can do it in a very sneaky way so that the person never knows. Reduces risk of rejection. You could also do it, but you’d have to talk to the person and volunteer. That probably makes you braver.
- Drop pennies. I love finding pennies and I really love dropping pennies because I know other people like finding them. For even more of a kick, drop nickles. Downside: Sometimes I worry that the penny will cause a freak accident. That’s probably me being neurotic.
- Write a letter or e-mail to a family member. Maybe someone you haven’t talked to in a while. The gift of relationships is as important as monetary gifts, even more so to people who can meet their basic financial needs. And strengthening your relationship is a gift to you as well.
- Invite a friend to dinner. Gift of relationships again. If you cook the dinner yourself, this costs almost nothing. But it’s a great way to brighten your friend’s week and your own. Micah and I have been inviting people over more often and it really makes us happier.
- Bring cookies to work. You will be my favorite coworker for at least a week.
- Write a thank-you note to someone who’s helped you out. This is something we let slip by a lot. I know I often think of people to whom I’m grateful for something. But I get nervous and embarrassed about writing thank-you notes or I feel so busy that I don’t think to write at all. Try it just this once, it might stick.
- Give your significant other a back rub. Most of us know something that would make our spouse/partner happy today. So whether it’s giving a back rub, making breakfast, fixing their favorite meal, try doing a little something to make their day brighter.
- Be kind and friendly to a stressed clerk/cashier/librarian/etc. Here’s a spur of the moment chance to give someone a break. Normally when a person is stressed, the situation makes you feel stressed as well. Try breathing, relaxing, remembering this isn’t the end of the world, and realizing that this probably isn’t even their fault. When I’m having a rough day at the library, I always appreciate friendly patrons.
- Support the less fortunate. Most of the people reading this blog have it better than a great deal of the world. You can read, you have access to the internet. Those are good starts. Whether lending through Kiva (and giving someone else the gift of giving is another great gift…) or giving to fund a school (stay tuned), there are a lot of ways you can help people around the world. For a start, try OxFam, World Vision, the Heifer Project, or even clicking for free on The Hunger Site and its related projects.
What do you think? Could you handle 10 days of mindful giving and kindness? What is the excited voice in your head suggesting you try doing?