It’s been five days since the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. — and, let’s be honest, it’s easy to forget what happened.
First of all, we want to forget; meaning, we don’t like thinking about the tragic loss of lives at the school, particularly the 20 children who were slain. But it’s also the holidays. Most of us still haven’t finished our Christmas shopping or closing out end-of-the-year reports at work. We’re battling crowds at the mall, we’re stressing over holiday dinners, we’re trying to lose a few pounds so we can gorge at parties from now until the end of the year.
It’s a stressful time. Who has time to think of others?
Actually, doing something nice and thoughtful and compassionate isn’t that hard — and it doesn’t take that much time.
NBC’s Ann Curry encouraged us — via Twitter, no less — to commit to doing 26 (or more) random acts of kindness in honor of the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School. If we can all do something for others, imagine the good we can bring to this world.
So here are 26 easy, simple, painless things you can do right now:
1. Pay for someone’s coffee at Starbucks. You’re there anyway. Make someone’s day.
2. Donate toys to children in need. My pals, ManoaDNA, are hosting its annual toy drive from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21 at Gordon Biersch. All toys will be donated to the Toys for Tots Foundation.
3. Take food to your first responders. Firefighters, police, lifeguards, paramedics — they work hard to keep us safe. Say thanks in the best way — with food!
4. Put money in expired meters. In Brisbane, there are scantily clad women called Meter Maids who do this — and I think it’s genius. Make someone’s day by putting money into their expired parking meters. Trust me, it’s awesome.
5. Thank a teacher. Could be your child’s teacher or a teacher you had when you were in school. They do a lot of good in this world — and they never get thanked enough.
6. Donate to a relief fund set up for Sandy Hook victims and survivors. Visit this site for a list.
7. Give blood. Everyday hundreds of people’s lives depend of volunteer blood donors. A single donation can save up to three lives — and it only takes about an hour. Visit the Blood Bank of Hawaii for details.
8. Donate a coat. We’re lucky, it’s always warm here. But in other parts of the country — and world — it’s not. And staying warm is critical. You can donate a coat through organizations like One Warm Coat.
9. Give away your frequent flier miles. Check with the airlines to see how this can be done, but you can transfer your miles to someone who needs them — like military families.
10. Go caroling. Whether it’s around your neighborhood, in your office or at a hospital, singing Christmas songs can brighten up anyone’s day.
11. Buy a coworker lunch. Why? Because you can.
12. Stop and talk to a neighbor. We blaze through our daily lives and hardly take notice of the people around us — even the ones who live right in our neighborhood. Stop. Wave. Say hi.
13. Leave a note. Tape a thank you note to a coworker’s computer screen. Leave a random note with a five-dollar bill on a stranger’s car. It’s a nice pick-me-up during these stressful holidays.
14. Let someone pass you in line. If you notice the guy behind you at the grocery store has just a couple of items, let him go. Or if the mother of two behind you at Macy’s is struggling with her kids and purchases, give her a pass. It’s a nice gesture that doesn’t cost you anything.
15. Give a compliment. You’d be surprised how much saying something nice can impact someone.
16. Feed the hungry. You can volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen or donate food to the Hawaii Foodbank. Every bit helps.
17. Help your parents. They might not ask you for help, but I bet there’s something you can do for them. Run an errand, clean the yard, give them some cash.
18. Visit your grandparents. If you’re lucky enough to have grandparents still alive, pay them a visit. They’ll be glad you stopped by.
19. Help a stranger. If you see someone in need, help. Maybe a couple is struggling to get the door open while holding a bag of groceries and two kids. Open it and smile.
20. Pick up trash. When you see litter, pick it up. Or get a group together — maybe during your lunch break or over the weekend — and clean up a section of a park or beach. Do your part.
21. Help a sick friend. Stop by and help with household chores, bring over some dinner, or just send a card. Being sick isn’t fun; knowing someone cares can make you feel a little better.
22. Send a thank you note. All those gifts you’re getting this Christmas? Someone gave them to you. Send that person a note. Handwritten is best.
23. Pick up the tab. The next time you have lunch or drinks with a friend, pick up the tab. Or buy the table next to you — strangers are OK! — an appetizer or dessert. You’ll make that person smile.
24. Babysit (or dogsit) for a friend. Offer to babysit (or dogsit) to let that person have a little time off, even if just for a couple of hours.
25. Mend a fence. That grudge you’re holding? Let it go. That person you’re mad at? Go make peace. You don’t need to harbor these toxic feelings.
26. Pass this on. Do something — then inspire others to do the same. Let’s see what kind of difference we can make!