This post started as an idea for a Christmas Bulletin Board for a church or Christian school, but there is no reason to make Random Acts of kindness a seasonal thing. Keep reading past the bulletin board part. There are some wonderful ideas at the end of this post for stretching the practice to our everyday lives all throughout the year! ((( SEE ALSO: Random Acts 365!!!!!! my latest blog post featuring a set of 365 cards with a daily scripture and a daily random act to carry out. Please visit that post. ))) And please feel free to share your ideas and experiences in the comments section at the end of this post!
The Advent Calendar and wreath have been my very favorite traditions of Christmas since I was a young, newly saved mom. When my kids were little I usually purchased an Advent Calendar from the Hallmark store, or Wal-Mart as soon as I could find them in November; one for each child. They were made of cardboard, with a nativity scene on the front, had 25 little doors (one for each day) that my girls could pry open, to reveal a scripture verse inside and expose a little treat hidden in the compartments behind the doors.
As they got older I thought it would be fun to have an activity for our family to do every day in addition to the peek-a-boo calendar, which prompted me to create an Advent Calendar with daily activities that I could pull out and use every year. It also helped me to get organized. I laminated my creation so I could write the dates in with a vis-a-vis marker and then wipe them off for the next year.
It was this long-standing family tradition that inspired me for the creation of the December bulletin board for my granddaughter’s school.
The board, as you can see, was covered in burlap, and framed with evergreen sprigs, pinecones, and large candycanes. And then to display my homemade set of Random Acts cards, I pinned up rope and hung the cards with tiny clothespins into a 7 day, 4 week calendar. As the front of each card was read (one per day) by the students, the cards were then turned over, reavealing the random act challenge for the day. The kids were encouraged to participate and then talk about their random acts with each other at lunch the next day, before they revealed the new challenge.
MAKING THE CARDS
I first downloaded the scripture cards from Harvest House!!! And once the cards downloaded, I was able to print them whatever size I wanted, from wallet size to 8 x 10. Those became the designs for the front of my cards.
For the backsides I thought it would be a neat idea to make the board interactive, to challenge the students to be doers of the word and not hearers only (James 1:22). That lead me to try and come up with some things a kid with little means could give. These thoughts became RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS that basically any kid of any school age could do, and each would foster a spirit of giving in their hearts rather than the usual spirit of receiving that is typical of Santa and Christmas. It would also be a way for our little school to show our love for Christ to our community.
“I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35
I started jotting things down as they came to me, things that anyone could do, and when I ran out of ideas, I googled the topic to help fill out my list. I came up with 25 or 30 random acts of kindness. Some things might cost a little bit of money, but many were totally free, like taking someone’s shopping cart back to the store or cart corral for them after they’ve unloaded their groceries, or helping (an elderly person, or veteran) unload their groceries? Or holding the door open for someone. Helping someone clean up a mess, making a sibling’s bed, or letting the person in line behind them go in front of them.
I found so many wonderful, thoughtful ideas, such as taking a towel to the park and drying off the swings and slides after a rain, or giving stickers out to kids who are waiting in line at the stores, or (and this might be my personal favorite): take a hot beverage to a Salvation Army bell ringer. There were other great ideas too, like picking up trash around the school or a neighborhood, taping dollar bills to the backsides of a few toys at the Dollar Store, taping quarters to the vending machines in hospital waiting areas (with a note that says, “This treat’s on me.”), or giving crayons and coloring books to a children’s hospital, or leaving diapers at diaper changing stations in the stores.
(P.S. If you’ve ever heard of the ChristmasAngel – an alternative, or accompaniment, to Elf on the Shelf, they have a website where folks have shared their 25 messages, things like: Give Hugs, Share Some Toys, Go Caroling, etc. In their blog they have created six pre-made lists that could easily be cut apart and glued to the back of the scripture cards. Check them out for a ton of loving, caring, giving things kids can do any time of year, but especially during the holidays).
(*Click HERE for the FREE PRINTABLES I created for my Random Acts cards. Each sheet will fit on an 8 1/2 x 11″ sheet of paper, and then you can cut them apart and have them laminated).
I took my set of cards to my local print shop and had them laminated with their good quality lamination for a nice sealed edge all the way around each. That way the cards wouldn’t get ruined by being handled, and could be reused year after year, if the school wanted to keep them, or, if I wanted to use them for my own family year after year. They would also make a nice gift!
This is how the bulletin board looked when my daughter and I finished putting it up. Please feel free to replicate it for your church lobby, youth group bulletin board, or Christian school.
FOR THE HOME: You are welcome also to print this set of cards and place them in a basket at your dining tables. Each morning at breakfast we can have a family member draw one card, and share the scripture out loud, then flip the card over to reveal that day’s personal challenge. Every family member can then be challenged to carry out that day’s random act in their own special way. We can talk about them at the end of the day around the supper table, or later that night at bedtime, and also say a prayer for the people touched by God’s love through our random acts.
((( IT’S HERE… Random Acts 365!!!!! Click on this link for a FREE PRINTABLE set of cards for every day of the year, featuring a scripture and a random act for every day. )))
RANDOM ACTS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
The Bible is filled with scriptures about doing things for others (100+). Let’s not be hearers of God’s word only. I encourage you to make our own set of scripture cards (click on this link for a 365 piece card set that I created), with scriptures on one side and “random acts” on the other that can find a permanent dwelling place on our kitchen tables, and in our daily practice? And also discuss with our families ways we can carry out the Lord’s commands. And please, won’t you share your awesome ideas and experiences with all of us in the comments below?
RANDOM ACTS AT WORK:
Be generous with praise. Thank others often. Pitch in and help when a cowworker is overwhelmed (sometimes because of the death of a loved one, or recovery from an illness or accident, etc., or just learning the job). Leave a small gift (book, music CD, pretty pen, Starbucks giftcard, etc.) in a mailbox, just because. Surprise someone with flowers or balloons who never receives such things.
“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4
RANDOM ACTS AT CHURCH:
Ofter to clean an elderly member’s home. Take an elderly member to a doctor appointment. Take a casserole dinner to a new mom and help her fold clothes. Offer babysitting to a young couple for a date night. Rake leaves or shovel snow for a shut-in or someone recovering from surgery. Buy groceries for the pastor/wife. Pick up a friend and take them to church with you. Take a new member to breakfast or lunch.
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10 ESV
RANDOM ACTS IN THE COMMUNITY:
Here is an awesome and really fun sounding idea (❤) to do with our small groups (cell groups) that a friend posted on Facebook:
“Oh my goodness! What fun and what a blessing. My church has a number of small groups that meet once a week for more intimate fellowship, Bible study and service to our community. We are doing a weekly service in our town called “Acts of Random Kindness.” We arrive with a list of acts of kindness we will do, in an hour, as we break up in smaller teams and compete with each other to accomplish the acts and make it back to our host house ahead of other teams. We ran off and paid for people’s grocery’s, went to gas stations and paid for gas for people and cleaned their windshields, gave flowers to unsuspecting random recipients, gave tips to waitresses without receiving their service, filled washers and dryers with quarters for people at public laundry mats, sang to fast food counter servers, dropped gift baskets at random houses and for retail sales persons, read an encouraging poem to a person we came across and many other acts that let people know they are special and that we care. The way people responded to us was so touching. I didn’t want the giving to stop. I told our leader that it reminded me of when I was a teen and we would do Chinese fire drills. Our adrenaline ran wild. As teams, we ran to each service, all participated, and then we ran back to the car laughing and feeling great about the lives we touched. I could do this every day! I received more than I gave. I think that was the lesson to each of us participating. It is such a joy to give. And…to give randomly to whoever we see in front of us at the time. I encourage everyone to open your eyes to people you can show kindness to whether you think they deserve it or not.”
“He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and not be answered.” Proverbs 21:13
RANDOM ACTS AT HOME:
Leave a little note of encouragement in children’s lunchbox or backpack. Leave a sweet note on the mirror for spouse. Send a love text or prayer of encouragement to spouse during the day. Warm up and scrape the ice off of spouse’s vehicle before they go to work. Surprise spouse with a little gift left in their car or on their side of the bed or sitting next to their favorite chair in the living room (new book, new pair of pajamas, new socks, new gloves, movie tickets, new tool, lotion, candybar, etc.) just because.
“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8
RANDOM ACTS FOR FRIENDS:
Send a card. Invite to lunch. Leave a small gift (potted plant, bottle of wine, bag of groceries, magazine/newspaper/book, pretty wreath for their door, etc.) on the doorstep. Invite to a pedicure. Make a mammogram appointment together and go pick her up. Invite to go shopping (clothes, antiques, farmer’s market, etc.). Invite to a play or movie.
“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” 1 John 3:17-18
RANDOM ACTS FOR NEIGHBORS:
Shovel their sidewalks while they are at work. Leave a potted plant on their doorstep. Invite them for supper. Visit with them over the fence. Help them wash their car, work on their car, repair a fence, etc. if you see them out doing that. Mow their yard while they are at work. Make a pretty wreath for their door.
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27