A few blocks from home I have been seeing men gathering in the mornings, waiting for someone to drive by and hire them for a job for the day. After so many months of seeing them as “part of the landscape” I decided to prepare some kind of Xmas gift for them, as a small gesture to acknowledge the dignity of work, their persistence despite  uncertainty every day, their hope and sense of responsibility towards their families, wive, kids, parents, to bring some money. I prepared sixteen  tote bags with some small healthy food, and a letter explaining the reason for the gift, and also inviting them to do a “random act of kindness” for two other strangers in the next 24 hours. If they did a friendly gesture, helping someone, no need to buy anything, and asked that person to do something good for two other strangers in the following 24 hours, by January 2nd we will have created a “wave of love” touching over 1 million 47 thousand people – not bad for times when we collectively yearn for love and positive emotions!

I went there this morning, wondering what would happen. Would there be 16 people there? What if less? more? As I drove into the parking lot I counted more than 16. Before I could decide what to do, I noticed some were approaching, thinking I was in search for some handymen. I stepped out the car and opened the trunk, and shared with them that I had some “gifts”, apologizing for not having enough for all… One black guy looked at the piled bags and with a gesture of disappointment whispered ” oh… just Xmas gifts…”  I could feel in my stomach a punch of the pain, that what these men needed were not gifts, but work… Others began to come to the car and they all stormed to the trunk rushing to not be the one left without. As they walked away with their bags they looked at me with a smile, some said thank yous. I felt so badly I didn’t have enough for all. A big guy that hadn’t got any walked up and looking me into the eyes, said “God bless you”. His words touched my heart, already open and exposed to the pain of these Big Honorable Gentlemen.

As I came home and shared with Ernie what just happened, I burst into tears. So little I did, so much pain and need, so much gratitude for so little… Still processing my feelings I mechanically began to open the accumulated mail and opened an envelope with a letter and six cards. They were children’s drawings, and they said “Thank you”, “Give a stranger a smile “, “thank you for everything“. I froze. I turned the cards and read: “You just performed a random act of kindness. I noticed, and want to thank you for helping to make our community and our world a better place. Please enjoy the artwork and pass this card along to someone you see performing a random act of kindness”.

What a start of a day. By the end of the day I had shared this amazing story with three other friends, who in turn became inspired to do something themselves, just by listening to my incredible experience….