In response to the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newton, Connecticut, a movement caught on that was dubbed "26 Acts of Kindness". It was spread through features such as the Today Show and during the months of December and January, millions of people took to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. As of this posting, people are still posting to the #26actsofkindness hashtag on Twitter and Instagram showed over 4,000 photos posted to #26actsofkindness and over 9,000 photos posted to #26acts.
We were so touched by the movement that we wanted to highlight someone's personal journey and what they learned in performing the 26 acts. We selected Alyson because she is a heartfelt volunteer in the Dallas, Texas community.
There doesn't need to be a long bio to describe her...her Instagram account bio says it best: a wife, mother and friend.
Here is our interview with Alyson:
What made you decide to take action and get involved in the 26 Acts of Kindness movement?
After seeing the tragedy of Sandy Hook I was devastated. One morning I saw Ann Curry on television speaking about the 26 victims and I was bothered as a former teacher and as a mother who knows the stigma associated with mental illness from having a child with mental health issues.
What bothered you the most about the tragedy?
I was concerned that there would be a stigma regarding people who suffer from a mental health issue. I also can't imagine trying to protect those innocent children and the devastation that the survivors have to continue to face...the innocence of those children will be forever changed.
When you got started, what was the first thing you did?
I first wrote a note that I knew I wanted to include and leave behind for each Act of Kindness.
I then set about getting gift cards because I knew both male and females would like them. I then just started immediately with leaving the gift cards on cars as I went about running errands. I knew that the surprise of seeing those gift cards on their cars and reading the note would create smiles even if I wasn't there to see them.
What was your favorite Act of Kindness that you performed?
It was a lunch where I gave the cashier $20 in order to pay for the orders of the next few cars and requested to have the note read. That was fun!
I also had fun at a checkout at Trader Joe's. The cashier was a guy who went above and beyond his responsibility to go find something that I needed but couldn't find. I had an iTunes gift card with me so I gave him the card and note. He was SO surprised! He wasn't being nice to me to get a gift which is what made his surprise that much more special.
How has your participation in the Acts of Kindness movement impacted you?
I finished all 26 acts in December and it made me feel grateful that I was doing something to pay it forward. I wanted to create something positive out of the negative tragedy that occurred. It's like bringing light into the world amidst darkness. I also plan on continuing to perform Acts of Kindness all year and it truly will become a lifestyle for me.
I was also excited that the movement impacted others around me. A friend brought treats to a doctor's office and that little surprise brightened their day.
Do you have any suggestions for others who will be inspired by your story and want to have their own 26 Acts of Kindness journey?
Yes. It doesn't have to cost money to perform acts of kindness. Just use a note, donate your time or clothes/food, etc. that you aren't going to use...the possibilities are limitless and the lives you will touch are limitless.
Any last words?
Yes. I think it is very important for people to feel brave about acknowledging their own mental health issues. Someone you may know also needs help. Never give up on your ability to lead a healthy lifestyle while courageously managing your issues and getting help. Also, I would suggest doing like I did and seek out help from a support group of other Moms if it is your child.
My favorite non-profit for "erasing the stigma" of mental illness is the Grant Halliburton Foundation. (To find out more about this organization and to donate please go to: GH Foundation)
We hope you are inspired and don't just stop at being inspired...go out and make a commitment to perform your own Acts of Kindness not only in remembrance of the 26 victims of Sandy Hook Elementary but also to spread light in the midst of darkness.