In the wake of the horrific Newtown, CT tragedy, so many of us were left asking, “What can I do?” In an attempt to answer this, drawing on her own personal experience, NBC News’ Ann Curry took to social media earlier last week and caused a massive, unexpected wave of goodwill with a simple idea: “Imagine if we all committed 20 acts of kindness to honor the lost children of Newtown.” Thousands of people committed and within hours the idea evolved into a viral movement known as 26 Acts of Kindness to honor each of the 20 children and 6 adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
In just the last week and a half, countless people, schools, groups and organizations have tweeted back to Ann about their commitment to the cause and the things they’ve done, using the hashtags #20Acts and #26Acts. To keep the momentum of the movement going, a 26 Acts of Kindness Facebook page also launched. Stories of acts big and small continue to pour in, via both social media outlets. Here are a few from Ann Curry’s Twitter feed:
“out to dinner tonight with the family, saw an elderly women eating alone. my 10 year old asked the waitress for her bill”
“gave 100% tip to my cab driver who has a new baby at home”
“paid for an elderly couple’s groceries. woman cried”
“2day my sis & I donated wholesome food to 10 kids in crisis w/ aim to reach 26 more in 2013”
“handing out candy canes to random people at the movie theater in Oaks, PA”
“anonymously paid for four families’ final layaway payments for their childen’s toys at a local store”
“volunteered to help at a lunch for military families who have a loved one deployed”
“gave barista $26 to buy ppl’s coffee this morning until it runs out. she asked my name I said #26acts”
According to NBCNews.com, Ann Curry’s inspiration for #26Acts of Kindness dates back to an experience she had while reporting on the genocide in Darfur in 2007, and the joy that giving Polaroid pictures of children brought to mothers who had never held a photograph of their kids.
As Ann explained, “I went to all of these women with their children who were in the courtyard of the hospital, knowing that they had never owned a photograph – ever – of their child. I went around from woman to woman, and I took pictures of them, I took pictures of them with their child, or just of their child alone – without even thinking, just snapping pictures.”
“The first time I did it, I remember giving a photograph to a woman, and she looked at this black square with this quizzed look on her face, and I said, ‘Just wait one minute! Just wait one minute,’ holding up one finger. And then I watched her face melt as she watched her child’s face slowly appear on that Polaroid.” She concluded, “It made me feel better. So I went from mother to mother to mother until I ran out of film.”
Life can often be difficult to navigate, at times nearly impossible, making it a challenge to always be at our best. But we like to think that we all have it in us to be better and do better for each other… and it doesn’t take much.
So, starting today, December 26th, we’re challenging ourselves to see how we can embrace the spirit of #26Acts Of Kindness in our own lives… not just now, during the holiday season, but throughout the new year. We hope you’ll join us.
As Ann Curry said, “I know the truth: if you do good, you feel good.” We second that!