The ripple effect of kindness

One of my favorite memories from childhood is skipping rocks at our family’s house on Nolin Lake. Some mornings, when the water was still like a piece of glass, with a hint of fog rising just above the surface, we’d skip rocks and watch the ripples gently spread across the silvery surface, eventually joining together and fading in the distance. I was reminded of this recently after watching a simple act of kindness and experiencing the ripple effect of that act for myself.

Early in the morning on one of my long walks through the historic district of Wake Forest I noticed my friend Durward Matheny in the distance. His office is in the Wake Forest Museum property and I commonly see him out and about, even on a Saturday morning. He stopped his car in front of a B&B that just sold after the owner’s husband died. He picked up the newspaper off the front lawn, carefully put in on the front porch, and walked back to his car.

It was a simple act of kindness, done without any thought of repayment or acknowledgement. Having known Durward for more than 20 years, it is not the least bit surprising he would do something like this, but it struck me at that moment just how important even the smallest of gestures can be. I had not spoken with him recently and struck up a conversation. He told me he was speaking at a fundraiser for the Koinonia Foundation later that day. They were having a silent auction and dinner to raise money.

After catching up, I continued my walk, determined to continue the ‘ripple of kindness’ I saw in Durward that morning. I went back to the bakery, put together a tin of cookies and brownies and dropped it by the location where the auction was to be held that evening. No paperwork. No receipt. I just wanted to create a ripple that ultimately would benefit someone less fortunate and blessed than I am.

A few days later, as Valentine’s Day rolled around I found an opportunity to create yet another ripple. Anna asked me to sell a very large stuffed bear (almost 4’ tall) she received as a Valentine’s present that no longer held any meaning for her. Instead of selling the bear, we picked up a bucket, baked up a batch of cookies, added some balloons and dropped off both at Duke Cancer Center Raleigh.

I met Kim, one of the nurses there, and explained that we simply wanted to offer up cookies to the nurses and patients in the chemo ward, spreading a little love on Valentine’s Day. I also wanted some patient in need of a little kindness, to take home the bear. She immediately understood my intent and with a big smile on her face, proceeded to take the cookies and the bear off to create yet another ripple.

The lady at the gift shop smiled as I was leaving and told me that it was a ‘sweet gesture’. I explained how the nurses and staff had done such an amazing job taking care of Dawn, one of our ‘cookie helpers’ during her chemo therapy. Fighting back the tears, I let her know that it was me who received the gift that day.

I share stories like this with our friends at Anna’s Gourmet Goodies in hopes that it will inspire even one person, in some way. We’re in the gift business, creating memories for those recipients who enjoy our cookies and brownies. But over the years I’ve found that when it comes to giving back, I’m the one who actually receives the gift of being able to make a ripple every now and then.

I can’t remember a time in our nation’s history when we are in need of more ‘ripples of kindness’. If you agree, here’s a recipe that might help:

Step one: Take a break from the news

Step two: Stop complaining about or talking about supporting/not supporting anything

Step three: Find someone who is in need and do something to help, even if it’s as simple as picking up the paper and putting it on their porch.

I’ll never know where the money from the silent auction goes or who got the bear. But just like skipping rocks at Nolin Lake on one of those cool mornings, I’m pretty sure I created a small ripple. Imagine what might happen if more and more people started creating ripples of kindness.

In the meantime, we’ll be baking up cookies and sending them out to people for their birthday, as a thank you gift or as we did on Valentine’s Day, to a student away at school as a reminder that Mom and Dad love him very much. If there’s someone in your company or personal life that might benefit from a little recognition, please click on over to our website and let us know how we can help. We promise to take special care of every package that goes out of our bakery and to help you create a ripple of kindness whenever possible.

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