Thanksgiving officially began the “giving” season across the nation. It’s also a time when groups and individuals perform increased acts of kindness. So, we decided to bring in an expert that could help provide ideas for acts of kindness.
Trisha Gallagher is the founder of the Happy Flower Day Project, where she provides flowers to those in need of a brighter day. She’s given out 65,000 bouquets and her work has expanded. She’s now the author of “150 Ways to Sprinkle Kindness in Your Community.” She sat down with WHYY afternoon drive host Cherri Gregg to discuss the impact of kindness.
Trisha, how are you doing?
Trisha Gallagher: I’m great, Cherri. Thank you for inviting me today.
Yeah, so we met a while back and you’ve become local-famous, known to folks for what it is you do. Explain your project.
Well, the first project that you just mentioned was the Happy Flower Day project, and I started that with my mother in 2013, whereby we picked up day-old flowers from different grocery stores and we just [did] random acts of flowers all around the Philadelphia suburban area. And I stopped counting when we passed out 65,000 bouquets.
65,000 bouquets! And who would you give them to?
Well, we would take them to shelters. We’d walk up and down the streets of North Philadelphia, West Philadelphia. We would go to senior living, subsidized apartments, we went to nursing homes, [it] was just whatever we were inspired to share. My favorite was when we took them to the tent city, many times, in Philadelphia
These random acts of kindness, a small thing like a bouquet of flowers, what was the reaction?
Smiles to me and smiles to them and smiles all around. Everybody that’s witnessing it. Everybody is so happy and they just don’t expect someone to give them a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers and mixed flowers or succulent plants. So it’s positive energy all around.
Tell me about your ideas and your thoughts about Thanksgiving and what this season should be used for.
Not everybody wants to get as involved as I am in a big project, so I put together 30 random acts of kindness that people can do today, tomorrow, and throughout the season. And one would be, why not just go to Giant or ShopRite or your grocery store and just buy some store-bought cookies and take them to the firehouse, take them to a police station, and just add a little note of appreciation? “Our family just wanted you to have these and we appreciate everything you do.” So, that’s such a simple thing. People don’t have to make homemade cookies or homemade brownies. Just buy something store-bought and give it to someone unexpectedly
Giving something small to some folks who’ve been serving us, makes things brighter. And I know you got some other list. Give me a couple more ideas.
Well, you can just go to the grocery store and buy a lot of canned goods. Why not just drop them off at a food pantry? Maybe you don’t know a family in need, but food pantries welcome a grocery bag full of things. You can offer to babysit for a single parent that might want to start doing Christmas shopping. You can just text a funny Thanksgiving joke to someone. You can leave change in a vending machine, this is something I like to do. You know how exciting that is, to think you’re only getting a quarter in change and you find a whole two dollars worth? You can also put money in expired meters up and down the street. Like in Norristown, they still have the meters. So my granddaughter and I have done that many times. We’ve gone to the laundromat with little baggies full quarters and some dollar-store laundry detergent. We just put it on the counter at a laundromat with a little note that says “Granny and Bridget wanted to do an act of kindness. If you’d like to have this, please take it.” And then you just stand back and it takes about one second for somebody to come and take the laundry detergent and the quarters that they needed.
Wow. And these little acts of kindness, they kind of create like a ripple effect, wouldn’t you say?
I would say that kindness is contagious. If I do something kind for you, you’re going to feel good about those quarters in the vending machine and you might just, you know, do something nice for somebody else. So I say kindness is always in season, kindness is contagious, and kindness is free.
I love it. And you have a full list of ideas. And one of them was to send a thank you note to a doctor or nurse who helped you. I just love that.
It just fills you up. You know, even if you’re feeling kind of blue, you just say to yourself, You know what? I’m just going to do one of these things. I’m going to let somebody else ahead of me in line, or I’m going to let that car take my parking spot. Just little things like that will lift your own spirits.
Well, thank you so much, Trisha Gallagher, thank you for these wonderful ideas for random acts of kindness this holiday. Visit HappyFlowerDay.org for Trisha Gallagher’s list of ideas of random acts of kindness. Be kind to everybody!
For more ideas for random acts of kindness, go here.