How to Change the World

Everyone has an idea for how to help others.

Occasionally these ideas are small – I should buy groceries for my snowed-in elderly neighbor – and other times, they’re large – I should purchase an island to which I will fly all of the foster children in the world so they can spend their days playing on 100-square-mile bouncy castles and sleeping in beds made of marshmallows. Generous and compassionate ideas often crop up in our day-to-day lives; it’s part of what makes us human.

Especially in the world we live in today, it can be frustrating when one cannot enact even the simplest of dreams. Maybe you’re struggling to make ends meet, juggling the cost of Ramen noodles, textbooks, and rent with the small amount of income, if any, you receive. You’re just one person, but you want to do your part to mend our broken world.

If this sounds like you, I have good news! Thanks to a charity called Random Acts, your ideas to organize a children’s backpack drive or start a local community garden don’t have to sizzle out.

When the 2010 earthquake in Haiti occurred, Misha Collins, actor on the CW show Supernatural, tweeted to his followers:

Fledgling autocracy indeed. His followers raised tens of thousands of dollars for the earthquake relief fund, leading Collins to establish Random Acts with the idea that he could harness this crowdfunding power for good.

The concept of Random Acts is simple: random acts of kindness can change the world. The charity makes it possible for everyday people to help their communities in bigger ways than they can personally finance. Random Acts provides financial support to individuals who come to them with ideas for ways to help others. With their help, one girl put together backpacks and drawstring bags with toiletries, school supplies, and toys for children in foster care. Another individual used Random Acts’ funding to buy supplies for their local animal shelter and create “take me home” bags filled with food and toys for newly adopted animals. Random Acts has funded all sorts of ideas, from the unique (crochet fortune cookies that contain positive messages to be passed out to strangers) to the basic (shoes for an orphanage in Mexico).

The only commonality that we see is the mission and motivation behind the act,” says Annie Houston, events manager. “That motivation is to show kindness wherever you live.

If you have an idea for a random act of kindness, the process of getting it funded is fairly simple. You go onto the Random Acts website (randomacts.org) and fill out an application which needs to include a description of the act you have in mind and a proposed budget. There are a few limitations; they won’t fund tuition for school, medical bills, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, vet bills, or home improvements, nor will they provide you with money so you can give it away to people on the street who seem nice.

You’ll get approved as long as your act falls within the guidelines and your budget is well-thought-out (sorry, you can’t say “Probably like $50 to rent out the community center but it might be up to $200 I haven’t looked it up yet”). From there, you’ll receive instructions for how to proceed and be on your way to hosting your very own puppy drive or family fun day!

By performing an act of kindness through Random Acts, you’ll be adding to a growing list of amazing projects that have been completed all over the world. “Random Acts has taught me to look for ways to be kind outside of the traditional,” says Executive Director Cinde Monsam.

You have to be aware of all the ways you can be kind and all the people that need kindness. This way of living your life is a cognitive act at first and then becomes like breathing.

Sometimes, the world is overwhelming. It can seem like we’re constantly being barraged with bad news. Now more than ever, it’s important to do what we can to spread kindness in a world desperately in need of it. Random Acts helps us make that possible. “There is no greater feeling than to know that you are cared about and no greater feeling than to care about others,” Monsam says. She’s right – performing an act of kindness for the people around you is one of the quickest ways to personal happiness and peace. If one of your resolutions for 2016 is to be happier or to make other people happier, then Random Acts is here to help you make that possible.

Here are some other ways to get involved, so mark them on your calendar:

Annual Melee of Kindness (March 5-6)

You’re encouraged to perform a kind act, as simple or complex as you like, to participate in this global kindness event. More info

Endure4Kindness (April 16-17)

Participants choose one continuous activity to perform for as long as they can. A popular example would be to run, but you could also spend as many hours as you can playing the harmonica, holding a dance marathon, singing a Journey song on a continuous loop, or whatever your heart desires. If you can get people to pledge, then you can do it! More info

Dreams to Acts: Nicaragua Trip (July 1-8)

The first 25 people to raise $5,000 in donations by May 15th will be able to fly to Nicaragua to continue work on the Free High School in San Juan del Sur, an ongoing Random Acts project. This challenging trip is highly rewarding in that you get to dig your fingers into the soil of a project and watch it grow before your eyes. If raising $5,000 sounds impossible, think of all the ways you can use your special skills: Are you a fantastic baker? A grade A pet sitter? Do you knit scarves like it’s your job? Take this opportunity to get creative, and even if you fall short of the goal, the money still goes toward a worthy cause, and you can be proud of that. More info

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