11 April 2011

The charity challenge: help a stranger

AUSTRALIANS and New Zealanders are renowned as the most charitable nations in the world. This was proven when the Charitable Aid Foundation (CAF) conducted an investigation into charitable nations, September 2010.

Using the Gallup World View World Poll for their investigation, the CAF found that, compared to 151 other countries, Aussies and Kiwis are (equally) the most charitable with both their money and their time. What might surprise you, however, is that the survey was not restricted to donations or volunteered time to charity/aid organisations. The survey also considered how many people had helped a stranger in need.

Remember the movie Pay it Forward? It is the story of a young boy who attempts to make the world a better place, one good deed at a time. The brilliance of this movie is the fact that it could work.

Believers of the “Six degrees of separation” theory or karma would argue that by engaging in one good deed, you will soon be rewarded with help from a stranger yourself. What have we got to lose?

A friend of mine once gave some international visitors the $2.50 they were short at Woolworths. She was lined up behind them and said that besides the fact that it was only small change, she wanted to prove a point to the woman behind her who was huffing and puffing "hurry up."

"I know how confusing money can be in different countries so I just wanted to help them out a little and give them a nice story to tell about Aussie kindness when they got home.  Can you believe the cow behind me sniggered at me when I did it! The incident was more embarrassing for her than the visitors I think."

Another friend of mine paid for an elderly lady's haircut one Sunday after he heard the staff tell her that seniors' concessions would not be honoured  due to increased cost of labour that day. He told me,

"I wish I could have stayed to watch her face when they told her."

Finally, a third friend recently received much praise on Facebook after posting her kind act of the day as her status. A little old lady had withdrawn a large sum of money at an ATM, then walked away without it. So this friend grabbed it and ran after her to give it back.

Whether it be an act of human decency, a kind gesture to make someone smile, or helping someone in need, when is the last time you did something selfless for someone you didn't/don't know? Imagine if we all went out and completed a random act of kindness. It may not make the world a better place but it just might make someone's day. What harm can it do?

Share your stories of random acts of kindness below, whether you were the giver or the receiever. Let's celebrate that there are still good people out there in the world.


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