Purposeful (Not Random) Acts of Kindness Ideas

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It’s always been important to me to live of a life of kindness and helping others. Over the past few years, the catch phrase, “random acts of kindness” has caught on. While I support the concept of any type of kindness, the “random” part bugs me a bit. Random means without purpose and I want my acts of kindness to be with the purpose of specifically helping others in a meaningful way.

Each month, but particularly this time of year, I make a point of practicing purposeful (not random) acts of kindness and include my entire family in the activities.

Collage of 5 photos of different acts of kindness with title text reading Purposeful (Not Random) Acts of Kindness

Let me stress that I’m not knocking any random act of kindness. We need more kindness in this world. I simply choose to be purposeful in the random acts of kindness I practice. These not random acts of kindness ideas are ones that my family has been practicing for years. Choose one (or two or three) of these ideas to get started with your purposeful acts of kindness

Purposeful (Not Random) Acts of Kindness Ideas

Homeless Care Packages – I started this family activity when my children were 2 years old, 6 years old and 8 years old. We’ve created many homeless care packages over the years. My children enjoy coming up with the list of contents, creating the care packages and handing them out. We’ve created care packages with different themes:

row of child holding boxes decorated with hand drawn pictures

We include personal notes and pictures that the kids create with every care package.

Make Cold Weather Items to Donate – I enjoy crocheting and crafting. I use time spent watching TV and traveling in the car to crochet scarves and hats to donate to our local homeless shelter. We’ve also created mittens from repurposed sweaters to donate. My favorite tutorials for these handmade cold weather items are:

pile of crocheted hats with yarn and crochet hook

Donate to Your Local Food Pantry I volunteered at a food pantry for three years and learned the behind-the-scenes scoop on what items are really needed at food pantries. There is always a need for rarely donated items. Check out my detailed What to Donate to a Food Pantry tips or contact your local food pantry and ask what is most needed and then purposefully donate those much-needed items. 

Donate to Your Local School – Collect labels and coupons from household items you purchase. Donate those labels and coupons to your local school. This doesn’t cost you anything, but can make a significant positive impact in your community. These label and coupon programs provide funds and supplies to schools for items that are not funded by your state or local school board budget. Donate these labels and coupons even if you don’t have children in school. It’s an easy way to support education in your local community.

yellow tape measure measuring  36" deep snow

Help Your Neighbors – Look for ways that you can help your neighbors. For many years, we’ve helped elderly neighbors and single-parent neighbors shovel snow. There are five in our family and working together outside helping neighbors shovel snow is a wonderfully healthy (on many levels) activity and it’s a great way to really connect with the people who live right there next to us.

large group of people on porch of older home

Help in Your Community – Join with a church or charitable group that works in the community. We’ve helped repair low-income housing and cleaned debris from yards in our community. It can be fun and rewarding to work together with and get to know others in our community.  

Give of Your Time and Yourself – Look for ways that you can give of yourself to help others. Some activities we’ve done are:

  • Relocated turtles from a wooded area that was about to be cleared and developed.
  • Planted trees.
  • Donated hair four times in 13 years.
  • Donated blood.
  • Walked and played with dogs at the animal shelter.
  • Picked up trash at our local high school stadium after football games.

Ask around, do a quick online search and you’ll be amazed at how many opportunities are available in your own community.

left image boy holding turtle and right image girl in salon chair with very long hair

Support Programs that Support Your Favorite Organizations – Three years ago Johnson & Johnson launched the Donate a Photo app as a way to give back to those to need. Since that time, 1.75 million photos have been donated by 179,750 people. It’s an easy way to donate to my favorite causes by simply sharing a photo.  For every photo shared through the free Donate a Photo app, Johnson & Johnson donates $1 to the non-profit organization you choose from the list of trusted partners. You can also use the app to share to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to encourage friends and family to donate, too. 

Johnson & Johnson has curated a list of trusted causes, and you can donate a photo to one cause, once a day. Each cause will appear in the app until it reaches its goal, or the donation period ends. If the goal isn’t reached, the cause will still get a minimum donation.

Give Donations Rather Than Gifts Give a charitable gift in honor of people on your gift list. My best friend from college and I have done this for years. We’ve given goats, a portion of an irrigation system, a portion of a boat, and small business loans to women as gifts to each other. It’s a fun way to give each other gifts that support our particular charitable passions. Save the Children’s Gifts of Joy holiday catalog contains charitable gifts ranging from donating an animal (you choose the animal), to stocking a library, to stocking a medical clinic, to providing small business loans and much more. You can choose a donation gift that supports your family’s and friends’ unique interests. For every donation made, Johnson & Johnson will match it, up to a total of $450,000. Johnson & Johnson has been a longtime supporter of Save the Children in on-the-ground programs around the world and this matching pledge builds on Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to donate $10 million dollars over three years.

woman in crowd leaning forward to shake hand of man in wheelchair

Help a Veteran – Recognize the sacrifices and contributions of our veterans. It’s a great way to serve in your community and you’ll meet some of the most inspirational (and often fun, with a great sense of humor) people around. We’ve had the opportunity several times to greet veterans traveling to Washington D.C. on a sponsored trip for World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans.

Help Service Members and Their Families – I am a military brat, a veteran and the wife of an active duty military member. I know first-hand the unique challenges that military families face. Military families know they can always rely on the USO. It’s one of the charities that we consistently donate to. The Johnson & Johnson Donate a Photo program has partnered with the USO and each contributed photo helps a service member connect with family back home. Maintaining that family connection is always important to military families, but it’s particularly poignant this time of year.

Make a Plan for Purposeful Acts of Kindness – Take a few minutes to plan your not random acts of kindness. Having a game plan for your purposeful acts of kindness will ensure you are able to make the biggest contribution possible with your time and money. Start with my Donation Gift Ideas for Each Month of the Year list as you make your personal plan for performing acts of kindness

What purposeful (not random) acts of kindness have you performed and suggest we try? I’m always excited to celebrate every act of kindness. I hope to see you over at the Johnson & Johnson Donate a Photo app donating a photo to your chosen organization.

Many more of my favorite charitable giving tips.

close up of 2 large fluffy flowers with title text overlay reading Charitable Giving Ideas and Tips

For all my favorite purposeful acts of kindness ideas check out the table below. You can scroll through the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.

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  1. What a wonderful roundup of ways that we can reach out and share from our abundance, whatever form that abundance may be taking: time, talents, or resources. Will definitely be sharing!

  2. This is such a fantastic list with great ideas! There is a large homeless population in my community, and I have been wanting to do something to help, so I love your ideas. I also donate blood as often as I can, and my daughter and I donate hair every couple years.

    I think giving back is so important and I always feel good when I am able to do random and purposeful acts of kindness. Thank you for sharing this!

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