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Currently, there is so much hatred being planned and executed in the world. We need an avalanche of kindness, compassion, and concern. Count me in among the ones to take the first step on the mountain that makes the snow become unsteady and start to shift.

Thanksgiving is over. Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa and the New Year are right around the corner. We are in the midst of the holiday season, and this is the time I reach out more to strangers, smile more often at faces I don’t recognize, wish people well in almost every interaction, and buy coffee, meals, and presents for loved ones and strangers alike.

I love the holidays. I love the goodwill that is often shown to people in public and in private. This year, the election has left a country divided. Many people feel extreme anger, fear, and uncertainty about their future and the future of things they care about and love. There is no need to feel hopeless, though. Little actions done on a daily basis can change lives and change the world.

On Facebook, I announced that I was making an Advent calendar of kindness and cheer, and I asked people for suggestions. I know it is already December 2nd, but there are still many days left until Christmas to put these actions on your to-do list. I plan to write each of these things down, stick them in envelopes, shuffle the envelopes and then number them 1-25 (or 2-25 because we are starting a day late). I will open and complete one action each day until Christmas.

Here are highlights of some of the best suggestions I received:

  1. Buy coffee for a stranger in your favorite coffee shop
  2. Donate your magazines to a senior center
  3. Put money in someone else’s parking meter
  4. Offer to carry someone’s groceries
  5. Bake cookies, bread or a holiday treat for someone who is alone or elderly
  6. Make soup and gift it to people who rarely get a home cooked meal
  7. Buy $5 Starbucks or Subway cards and give them to people living on the street
  8. Serve a meal at a soup kitchen
  9. Donate food to a soup kitchen
  10. Buy a ham or turkey for a low-income family
  11. Offer to babysit for a single mom or dad
  12. Write a letter to a friend or relative
  13. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time
  14. Donate coats and jackets to an organization that works with the homeless
  15. Buy socks for an organization that works with the homeless
  16. Donate sample sized shampoo and conditioner to an organization that works with the homeless
  17. Donate books to a women’s shelter
  18. Donate business clothes to an organization that helps people secure employment
  19. Smile and say hello to all the people you pass
  20. Sign up to do a 5K walk for an organization in your community
  21. Shovel snow or rake leaves for a neighbor
  22. Let someone go ahead of you in a line
  23. Tell your friends or family (or both) the things you most cherish about them
  24. Donate a toy (or gift) to foster children
  25. Clean out your closets and cupboards and donate all that you don’t use to Goodwill or another organization with a nonprofit thrift store.

Join me in spreading goodwill this holiday season. I’ll meet you where kindness and compassion live – let’s be neighbors.