A small act of kindness can go a long way. They can change someone's attitude, day, or even life. The best part is, there's not a way to know when one will happen. Which makes them all the more special.
People on Reddit share the small acts of kindness they'll never forget. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I was nine years old, waiting for the school bus in Wisconsin winter. I had a thin coat, no hat or gloves. A woman driving past saw me and stopped, giving me a blanket from the back of her car. It was a long skinny one, so she wrapped it around my head and shoulders like a big scarf.
I remember thanking her, but being confused. I told her I didn't know how I would give it back when I was done borrowing it. She hugged me and said not to worry. I still have that blanket."
"At work, I was complaining about heartburn once. I was still pretty new to the job. I didn't really have any work friends. Felt like an outsider. My life outside of work was pretty terrible as well.
The bartender on shift overheard me and ran to a nearby coffee shop to get me chocolate milk. It definitely made the heartburn go away and it was such a needlessly kind act. I don't think ill ever forget it. Two years later we're still friends and she is definitely one of the kindest people I've ever met."
"I was around six-years-old and went out to ride my bike. My parents were behind me walking and I was going ahead and coming back to them every 5-10 minutes. At some point, I forgot to turn around and realized I was lost. So, I started crying after some unsuccessful attempts to find them.
One kind man, probably in his 60s, stopped and asked me multiple questions about what happened and who were my parents. It turned out that he knew my grandpa. He contacted him, got my parent's numbers, and called them. They decided where to meet and after 20 minutes we were there.
I was so happy and relieved and thanked the old man. He lives in the block of flats as my grandpa and I sometimes help him by carrying the groceries or fixing something in his house. I will never forget this act because things could have gone wrong for me."
"When I was young(19), I lost my wallet and someone used my license to rack up tickets. It was pretty obvious once courts looked at the location of the tickets and what vehicle was used, the signature, that it wasn't me.
I had to go to around three courts clearing it up. The 3rd judge was the only one with a problem. He said I had failures to appear since the tickets were ignored. I explained what was happening and how I've been dealing with this, and how I came in as soon as I was made aware of the issue.
He wanted to put me in jail because he didn't trust I'd be back. He wouldn't look at my paperwork because it was an arraignment. He would only look at it during the trial date. I didn't know what to do, but I had the name of the public defender memorized. I asked if I could talk with her first.
He called her in and said, 'This young man seems to know you...'
I quickly explained what was happening and showed her my evidence. She told the judge that if he didn't release me to come back, she'd pay my bail out of her own pocket.
He scorned me but released me. I just had to return the next month during the trial date."
"I was trying to fly internationally for the first time to visit a friend in the UK in spring 2010. You know, that year that the volcano erupted and you couldn't fly into or out of Europe for quite some time? I rode up to Chicago on the train, not knowing if I was going to have a flight or not. It was just all kinds of extra stress on top of the stress of trying to travel internationally for the first time.
Ultimately I didn't get to go (flight got canceled shortly before boarding, the airline gave me my money back and I just hopped the train back home), but the flight was still scheduled when I got to O'Hare. I checked in and went to sit at the gate. Couldn't eat, trying to read with a tear-stained face that most people were ignoring.
This older couple came and sat right next to me at a time when the waiting area was pretty much empty, and simply began a conversation. Husband and wife trying to get home to Amsterdam had been stranded in the US for days, but came and talked to me. Didn't acknowledge the state my face was in, but they knew anyway. They didn't have to, and it was some very small kindness after a really rough day.
I'll remember those folks and their kind, distracting conversation for a long time."
"I transferred in the middle of first grade to a school that did ice cream Fridays where you'd pay like 50 or 75¢ for whatever kind, and then you'd watch an educational video in the classroom. I was unaware of this when the first Friday rolled around so I didn't have any change and neither did the kid next to me.
Normally there would be a few who didn't get ice cream but this day we were the only two. So the teacher called both of us aside and gave us each the change required to have our ice cream. I think the biggest thing was that she didn't do it in front of the other kids so it looked like we had brought the money all along. It was incredibly kind of her, she was a wonderful teacher outside that as well."
"I missed my train to go home for Christmas from uni due to a crash near the station. I was completely broke and knew I wouldn't be able to afford another ticket. Life just got on top of me knowing I'd have to spend Christmas alone in my crummy student house and not being about to see my grandad who was in rapidly declining health. I was bawling my eyes out on the platform when a janitor(?) appeared out of a hidden stock room under a stairwell and brought me some tissues.
He found out why I was so upset and said leave it to me. Took me to the customer service desk and got them to reissue me a ticket for the next train home. I was so thankful I started bawling again and he went on his way. Then just before I was about to get my train he found me on the platform and gave me some snacks and a can of coke and it's just the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me."
"Last year, my son and I went to Lowe's to buy his grandpa a weed eater and a certain attachment that goes with it. Grandpa is a little older and slower than he used to be, but he does a lot for us, so we wanted to spend a little money to help make his life a little easier.
As we get there, there's only ONE of the attachments left that we wanted. Well, there was a guy there getting it down for another customer. My son looked devastated. He knew how much his Grandpa had been wanting this stuff and we were going to surprise him with it.
My son looked at me and quietly said, 'That's the last one. What are we going to do for Pa now?'
Well, the guy overheard and saw the look on my son's face, so he casually handed it to me and said, 'I think Pa needs this more than I do. I'll just get an IOU from the store.'
It was such a small moment for this guy, but it's one of those things that you witness that will literally help shape my son and his view of the world.
After that the saying, 'It takes a village,' didn't mean what I thought it meant every time I'd heard it before. Instead, it just made me realize that society, as a whole, is impacting all these young people in so many ways. And most of them don't even know it."
"So, there was this one time in the 1990s. I was helping my brother move from a teaching job after college. This was in the middle of nowhere in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He was driving his little pickup truck pulling a trailer and I was driving my shoddy little Ford station wagon, packed to the gills with his stuff.
It was a Sunday. I'm driving along and my car just dies. No warning, nothing. I coast to a stop on the side of a rural highway and wait for my brother to realize I wasn't behind him anymore and turn around. After about 20 minutes, he finds me, the hood up and neither one of us knows very much about cars. Soon, though a man from the house we broke down in front of comes out, takes one look at the engine and says, 'Timing belt.'
We inquire about getting the car towed the 30 miles to the closest large town and realize that it was going to be an expensive repair, even if the engine was OK and not ruined.
This man, though, he takes one look at the situation -- sees two broke kids in their early 20s just trying to get by in life and he says, 'Well, it's Sunday. Nothing's going to be open. I tell ya what. My next-door neighbor is a mechanic. Let's push the car down to my driveway and we'll see what we can do.'
So that is exactly what we do. His neighbor calls his buddy at the auto parts store (which is closed on a Sunday), who does him a favor and gets the parts needed, drives them 30 miles out to the house and well sit around telling stories while the car gets fixed. This man's son, a kid of about 9 or 10, is hanging around. He is extremely bored. There were no kids nearby his age, and he's craving any kind of interaction, even with two guys in their 20s.
The kid goes 'Want to see my treehouse?' and points to the woods outback.
My brother and I look at each other, shrug, and say, 'Sure.'
We end up spending two hours with this kid, helping him build his treehouse. When we are done, we go back to the house and the car is all fixed. My brother and I have maybe $60 in cash on us (combined) and try to pay the man who did the work but he refused.
He said, 'No, you boys were in need of help and I wanted to help. You don't need to pay me. Plus, you kept my son occupied for several hours, which I truly appreciate.'
He then says, 'I want you to do something for me, though. The next time you see someone in need of help and you have the means, I want you to repay this favor.'
And that is one of the rules of life I live by, taught to me by a generous man in the middle of nowhere who helped me out when I was in a time of need."
"I told my coworker I just really missed home and most of all: a home-cooked meal. I was 19 and moved away from home for the first time to a big city for a job opportunity. I’d never been away from my Mom before or even been alone for longer than like two weeks. I could cook basically nothing and everything I did was just missing something, so mostly lived off takeout and microwave meals, which I was starting to get really, really sick of. I just wanted a nice meal made with love and fresh ingredients.
Anyway, I told my coworker that and the next day she came in with five homemade meals in containers for me to eat for the next week. The day before she conjured up a conversation about allergies which I didn’t even think was anything more than a usual conversation, until the next day. It made me cry, and she didn’t understand why I was so overwhelmed and surprised because it was just something she did every day but for her own kids.
I don’t think I will ever forget it, it was truly just so sweet, and the meals were so good, so comforting. Truly tasted like they were just made by the hands of a loving parent."
"I've always struggled with my appearance, but it peaked one day when I saw myself up close on video for the first time in about a year. I thought I looked awful, and I lost all self-confidence (Extreme and a bit silly, I know.). I stopped putting any effort into my appearance for a while and went outdoors only in sweatpants and t-shirts. Then, one day, my best friend had her birthday party. I thought it'd be rude to her to show up looking like a slob, so for the first time in a while I curled my hair, put on a dress, and did my make-up.
As I was walking home I passed a couple and (presumably) their daughters, probably 4 and 6-7. As we passed each other, I saw the younger girl staring at me, and then she exclaimed 'Wow, look! Wasn't she beautiful?'
I walked around a corner and actually cried a little. Children are so brutally honest, and knowing that somebody's first reaction to me was 'beautiful' was a type of encouragement I've never felt before. That comment still sticks with me and I think about it when I start doubting my appearance again."
"As a young man, my social skills were... sub-optimal. That made for a lot of very lonely times in college- especially in the dead of winter in a rural, northern community.
Anyway, one day I met a really sweet girl who could see past my horrible flaws and insufficiencies. We got to talking and discovered that we both wanted to catch a lecture that night, but neither of us had anyone to go with. We spontaneously decided to go together.
The speaker was fascinating, and afterward, we walked around in the snow, talking about a lot of things and nothing in particular. Although we lived on different sides of the campus, we agreed to meet for lunch the next day.
At the appointed time, she greeted me and handed me a brown paper bag. It contained a multi-colored, Dr. Who length, hand-knitted scarf.
The previous night, she'd noted how cold I was, and decided to spend her night making a gift for me. No agenda, romantic or otherwise.
Just 'here ya go, I hope you like it.'
Awkward as I was, I didn't even know how to begin to thank her.
That scarf became my trademark. I wore it for years."
"I was 10 years old. My dad told me stay where I was while he went to get his car. I was feeling petty so of course I followed him. We were pretty deep into the hood, and eventually, I lost sight of him. He was walking at a faster pace than me and I had stayed a certain distance behind so he wouldn’t see me. Thought I was so clever. Ugh.
Anyway, when I realized I was lost I started panicking. Eventually, I came across this pharmacy store and there was an old man smoking outside. I told him I was lost and I didn’t know where my dad was. He assured me everything was going to be ok, put me on his motorcycle, and took me to the police station.
Looking back, I realized how stupid I was and how that could’ve been my death day if the dude was some weird child kidnapper. Definitely not the right move on my part but I am forever grateful for the stranger who helped me out."
"When I was 26, broke, living on my own and developed a reaction to latex and nonlatex protection. Still don't know why. Anyway, I decided to get the implant birth control and went to the family planning clinic. I was filling out the forms where you input your salary and insurance info. I didn't have insurance ,and once the medical assistant looked over my form, she realizes my income was $200/year over the limit where they provide full coverage assistance. Meaning I wasn't eligible for their financial assistance and was going to have to pay about $1000 out of pocket just for the birth control, not including an exam I needed.
She very quietly explained this to me and then in her normal voice said, 'Oh let me get you a new form' (wink wink).
She gave me a blank one so I could re-fill it out and list my income at what they considered to be the limit for assistance. Because of this, I was able to get the physical exam I needed badly, including medication and a 3-year birth control implant for FREE.
I was living paycheck to paycheck, barely scraping by working full time and overtime, wearing worn-out clothes and shoes with holes. That woman was a freaking lifesaver for me!"
"I used to work at a vet hospital as an assistant. One day, when I was opening up (before any doctors were present) a woman was frantically knocking at the door with her cat. He was pretty old and looked in rough shape, and she was very concerned as he came home from being outside coughing and vomiting. He was stable so I made comfortable arrangements for him and reassured her until the doctor came. Her cat ended up being diagnosed with asthma and did well.
Every time she came in to get food or meds after that, she was always very nice and friendly with me. I got to know her a bit, she and her husband have three elderly cats and run an insurance company together. We would chat whenever she came in.
One day we were chatting and she asked if I was excited about the upcoming Christmas holidays. I made a comment about how I wasn’t really because holidays are stressful with the added pressure of gift buying on top of paying rent, but that I was looking forward to time off.
A few days later I was eating lunch in the break room, and my coworker dropped off a card. I asked who it was from, she wasn’t sure but said it was a client and she had asked the card be given to me. I rushed to the front to see if she was still there but she had left.
It was a card from the woman with a note about how she wished me happy holidays and appreciated me being there when she was stressed...and $300. I nearly cried. I never expected this kindness from an acquaintance and it came at a time when I was struggling financially, and really did help me out. The next time I saw her thanked her profusely but insisted she take it back as we’re not supposed to accept 'tips' but she refused and said it was a gift and she was happy to help.
I work elsewhere now and haven’t seen her in a few years but think of her often."
"I was visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras with a couple of friends, and we were very poorly prepared for how hungover and hungry we were going to be our first full day there.
We were standing in the freezing rain at 10 am to see the krewe of Zulu, and had not eaten yet and were DYING of hunger with no food around. I looked over at a median where a large group of people were having a BBQ, and our stomachs were rumbling so hard that my friends nominated me to go offer some money for a plate.
I walked over sheepishly and asked an older black woman if I could please buy some food for me and my friends.
She said, 'Honey, you and your friends can come and eat whatever you want for free, this is New Orleans.'
She happily began walking us around showing us everything they had.
It was the best meal, and the most needed kindness I had ever experienced and forever makes me love that city."
"Just over two years ago, my nan passed away. She was a single mother to my dad and my uncle, worked three jobs to keep a roof over their heads. I spent most Friday nights and Saturdays with her during my childhood. She was fun, lived for being around her grandchildren and luckily enough she had a good few years with my son who was her shadow whenever we visited before she died.
Whenever my dad or my uncle would visit, she would always bag up groceries for them to take home. It was something she did since they moved out of her house back in their late teens and would not let them say no.
After she passed, I was filling my car at the local petrol station. Behind the till was a woman who was a mother of someone I went to school with, and incidentally my dad also works on their site as a cleaner.
I asked her if my dad had been OK as he carried on working during this time and she looked at me weirdly and said 'Yeah, why?'
I explained what happened to my nan.
She instantly burst into tears.
Turns out that back when she was a kid, her family lived next door. They were in the same terrible financial situation as my nan was and also her dad was a raging drinker, and there was no food in the house. It all went on drink.
Even though my nan was struggling to make ends meet in her own household, she also made sure that the next-door neighbours kids were fed and watered, and that they were clean and presentable for school. Bar school dinners this would sometimes be their only meal of the day.
I know from the amazing memories I had of her growing up just how brilliant she was but to find out after she died just how generous and caring she was to people in the same need as herself just made me think so much more of her.
People like this are few and far between right now."