When was the last time you did something kind for someone else? Maybe it was holding the elevator door open for someone who was in a hurry, or offering to help your neighbor mow their lawn, kindness can come in big and small gestures, and is always appreciated. In honor of Random Acts of Kindness Day, here are some of our favorite random acts of kindness — you know, the ones that communities come together for to surprise someone deserving with their generosity that we just can't get enough of.
1. When a homeless man's kindness inspired others to do the same.
Shelby Hudgens of Colorado Springs, Colo., only had his dog, Blackjack, and an old car to his name. Though homeless, he took pleasure in helping others. Once, seeing how cars were getting stuck in the snow, Hudgens spent three hours helping push strangers' cars up a hill.
To his utter surprise, once a local news station picked up the story, many people in the community came to his aid. One put him up in a hotel, another raised money to help him — Hudgens even got an amazing job offer out of it. It just goes to show how contagious kindness can be.
2. When the Internet helped throw an epic birthday for this 13-year-old.
When Odin Camus, who was often bullied in school, sent out invitations to his birthday and nobody responded, the teenager was crestfallen. But his determined mother took to a Facebook group for local moms and asked for help.
What Odin's mom — and Odin — did not expect was for her message to spread like wildfire through the Internet. The young boy ended up having a birthday party to remember, with hundreds of guests, a homemade birthday cake, and countless birthday wishes from all over the world.
3. When this couple's wedding guests blew their gift-giving expectations out of the water.
Leigh McManus and her husband James Clark Jr. had an unusual request for their wedding guests. Instead of purchasing presents for them, the Florida couple asked their family and friends to perform random acts of kindness.
McManus and Clark's guests stepped up to the plate, surprising even the couple themselves. Even a month after their wedding, the couple continued to receive messages from their friends about the good deeds they performed.
4. When a group of strangers helped a Vietnam vet reunite with his beloved dogs.
When James, a Vietnam veteran, suffered from a heart attack, his dogs Baily and Blaze were taken from him and put up for adoption. A few months later, James felt well enough to put down a deposit to get his mutts back, but it turns out he didn't have to.
Melissa Eagle, a kennel tech, had seen how much James loved his pooches, and reached out to a group of volunteers to help James cover the adoption fee, giving James both his beloved dogs back, as well as a wonderful surprise.
5. How this girl lives on through other people's kindness.
When 8-year-old Maddy Grayless found out she had bone cancer, the doctors gave her only two months to live. Maddy's wish was to make a difference in the world, and though she eventually passed away, her spirit lives on through a Facebook group that dedicates itself to doing random acts of kindness in her honor.
Less than a year later, Maddy's Mighty Minions has grown to more than 17,000 members who routinely perform good deeds in her stead.
6. When a group of Muslims received this note on Christmas.
This election year has seen plenty of hateful rhetoric directed at Muslims, but when several Muslim families went out for dinner on Christmas evening, there was a wonderful surprise in store for them.
When the group asked for their bill, it turned out that someone had already paid for their meal, with the note "Merry Christmas beautiful family" scrawled on their bill. The incident is proof that intolerance has nothing on kindness and acceptance.
7. How people responded to this man's wheelchair getting stolen.
One night in August, Don Hyams — who suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, a disease that makes his bones brittle — left his wheelchair outside of a friend's home. When he went back out, he realized it had been stolen, and with it his ability to move freely.
But thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and an online fundraiser, donations amounting to more than $38,000 poured in — more than enough for a new wheelchair for Hyams. The remainder was donated to The Brittle Bone Society and Action For Kids, an organization that helped Hyams when he was younger.