The holiday season is a time of joy, reunions, love, hope, traveling, gifting and shopping. However, the continual stream of emails, advertisements and commercials surround us, as we focus on buying the latest and greatest products before the mob of shoppers clears the shelves. After a week of consumption and consumerism, let’s change our focus and remember that the holiday season is also a time of giving. It’s not only a time for giving thanks, but also for giving our time, talents, and most importantly, our kindness.
No matter what we give, it’s important to remember the positive effects of our giving. It’s amazing how a small act of kindness can have a significant and profound impact on another person. Giving an act of kindness not only impacts one’s own life, but it can inspire the receiver to spread kindness him/herself, thus creating a ripple effect.
I recently saw this ripple effect in action at one of the Foundation’s Soccer for Success programs. 9-year-old Kyle* was very shy throughout the first couple weeks of the soccer season. One afternoon, after playing a nutrition-themed version of “Sharks and Minnows” in which fruits and vegetables tag junk food, Kyle (who played the role of the mighty banana) asked his coach-mentor if they could speak privately about an issue that was troubling him. Visibly upset, he expressed his frustration about being bullied by some of his classmates. After listening to the boy’s concerns, Coach Lori offered a few simple, but powerful words of encouragement:
“But you’re a banana! Bananas are strong! Never believe anyone who tells you otherwise.”
While this may seem like silly advice, Coach Lori’s words stuck. Soon after, Kyle began to view himself in a better light, and in the following weeks, he became more outgoing, confident and joyful. A few practices later, when Coach Lori checked in with Kyle, he reported that he was no longer being bullied or picked on at school, and that he’d even begun helping other kids by sharing her advice.
Not only did Coach Lori’s words and kindness change Kyle’s outlook of himself, they inspired him to support others. The story of this young player and his coach-mentor shows how one small act of kindness can have an immeasurable impact.
Whether we volunteer our time as a coach-mentor or simply provide an ear that will listen, each of our gifts can have a lasting influence. What will be your act of kindness for the day?
*name has been changed for privacy