Sometimes it’s a tap on the shoulder, sometimes you see someone who clearly needs a hand, sometimes it’s something you read. However the impulse to help comes to you, science says you should act on it.
Brain research indicates that acts of kindness may have an even more positive effect on the giver, decreasing stress and anxiety and increasing levels of good hormones such as oxytocin and serotonin. And the kindness doer isn’t the only one who benefits. Research also proves that positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brains of everyone who witnessed the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to “pay it forward.”
February 17 was Random Acts of Kindness Day and we decided to celebrate by surprising a few local nonprofits with donations and treats for the staff and volunteers.
The Act of Randomness
There are so many nonprofits in Oklahoma City that improve our communities and deserve a being recognized that we decided that we would randomly pick recipients from a bucket of submitted ideas. The recipients were: Pivot, a Turning Point for Youth, Rebuilding Together OKC, The Homeless Alliance and Positive Tomorrows.
First on the rounds were donating 20 formals to Pivot so that the young women who live in the youth shelter, or on their own, would have a dress for prom. Pivot is a nonprofit community organization that advocates, educates, intervenes and counsels youth and families to make a positive difference in their lives. The organization works with youth ages 12- 21, many of whom need necessities like food, clothing and a safe, secure place to stay and often are living on their own without family support.
Donating the prom dresses was a small effort to help the organization give the youth in their care a traditional high school experience, even when other parts of life are disrupted.
Next on the list was Rebuilding Together OKC where each week, teams of volunteers spend several hours completing home repairs for elderly homeowners who are no longer able to do so on their own. Repairs include tasks like painting, minor plumbing and electrical fixes or access ramps for a wheelchair-bound homeowner. Rebuilding Together OKC has an array of volunteer opportunities for groups and individuals. The organization repairs more than 150 homes each year in the Oklahoma City area.
Next we visited the nonprofit Positive Tomorrows where the team took clothes, schools supplies and games. The elementary school serves homeless children and their families by offering students stability and individualized education while providing parents the support they need to become self-sufficient again.
Last on the list was the Homeless Alliance. The Homeless Alliance is always in need of canvases and art supplies for their Fresh stART program. In addition to providing a potential source of income, the program enables people experiencing homelessness to express themselves creatively, manage emotional issues and develop their social skills. Fresh stART hosts studio time twice weekly at the Homeless Alliance’s day shelter.
Nonprofits aren’t the only recipients who benefit from kindness. Opportunities to do good can be found at local schools, a neighbor’s house or even a stranger in the line behind you at the grocery store. And they don’t have to occur on one specific day. Every day is an opportunity for random acts of kindness