post written by: Angel Chernoff

75 Day-Brightening Stories of Generosity


75 Day-Brightening Stories of Generosity

75 real life stories of everyday giving from our sister site, Makes Me Think, that will put a smile on your face and inspire you to pay it forward.

  1. Today, when I landed at J.F.K. for a business trip, I turned on my phone and was inundated with several voicemails and text messages from family and close friends back in Seattle. “Call home. Your mom had a severe stroke and is currently in intensive care,” read the first text message to pop-up on my phone. My boss was with me, told me she’d handle things herself, and insisted that I catch the next flight back home. As I stood in line at the ticket counter, talking to my brother about my mother’s condition, crying, and explaining that I was going to try to make a flight that leaves in 30 minutes, the twelve people in line in front of me overheard my conversation and let me skip to the front. Then after the Delta rep quickly issued me a ticket, she walked around the counter, handled me a box of tissues, and before I had a chance to react, gave me a big hug. I made my flight. And my mom is now in stable condition. MMT
  2. Today, at the local convenience store where I work an elderly man with a guide dog came in, went to the aisle with the greetings cards, picked up a card, held it up extremely close to his face, and struggled to read it. Just as I was about to walk over to help him, a big truck driver asked him if he needed assistance reading, and then proceeded to read him almost every single greeting card out loud until the elderly man smiled and said, “That’s perfect! My wife will love that one!” MMT
  3. Today, I put an ad up on Craigslist stating that I was looking for a cheap laptop for my first semester of college (I’m 18 and live by myself, so money is tight). An elderly man replied saying he had one for me, and dropped off a nearly brand new laptop. He insisted that he wanted nothing in return. In his words, he said, “I bought this six months ago, but I only use my desktop. It just sits around collecting dust. So now I consider it a good investment in a young, bright future.” MMT
  4. Today, I’m the head janitor at an investment firm in L.A. Since the engine in my truck failed four months ago I’ve been without a vehicle. In some cities this might be okay, but in the L.A. sprawl with subpar public transit, it’s been difficult. The CEO, who is usually hard on everyone and emotionally removed from any personal issues his employees have, overheard a phone conversation I was having with my wife in which I was apologizing for not spending enough time with the family due to the long public transit commute times. Ten minutes later, he caught me in the hall and handed me a set of car keys. “The new executive company cars arrived. One of them is for me. But it sounds like you need it more than I do. I have another set of wheels. It’s parked out back. It’s yours for as long as you need it.” MMT
  5. Today, I watched a teenage boy help an elderly woman with a cane onto the city bus I was riding. He was so careful with her, assisting her every step of the way. The woman had the biggest smile on her face. They both sat directly across from me, and just as I was about to compliment her with having a wonderful grandson, the boy looked at her and said, “My name is Chris. What’s your name, ma’am?” MMT
  6. Today, while standing in line at a store, my 9 year old daughter asked for a candy bar. After saying “no” twice, I gave in. I paid, and as we walked away I gave it to her. She stopped, turned around and handed it to a little boy that was crying in line behind us at the register. I asked her why she gave it to him and she said she heard the boy’s mom tell him they didn’t have money left for candy anymore until she can find another job. MMT
  7. Today, I work as a cashier at Target. Directly across from my register we have a large holiday charity donation box for needy kids sitting to the left of the 50 cent gumball and toy machines. On five separate occasions over the course of the last week, I have witnessed kids standing in front the gumball and toy machines, thinking about what to get, then reading the information on the donation box, and putting their 50 cents in there instead. MMT
  8. Today, in a little African village where I volunteer as a nurse, I passed out food to hungry children. And since I knew her only food for the day was the slice of wheat bread I had just given her, I did not let her see me cry when she tore the slice in two and gave the bigger half to her little brother. MMT
  9. Today, my mom is donating the kidney that my dad desperately needs in order to live. They have been divorced for 16 years. MMT
  10. Today, when I was walking to dinner outside in the cold with my elderly mom, she started walking slower and slower and digging through her bag. I often act out and get impatient with her. But when I finally had enough and was about to say something, she pulled out a five dollar bill and told me to give it to the homeless man sitting on the street curb. MMT
  11. Today, I saved a woman’s life using the Heimlich maneuver. And after she calmed down, finished eating, and had dessert, she left me a 600% tip. MMT
  12. Today, at 7AM this morning the woman in line behind me at grocery store looked upset, so I bought her a fresh rose for $2.99 that was sitting in a bucket of water at the register. An hour later, when our new corporate VP showed up on her first day of work, she immediately smiled at me and said, “Thanks for the rose. I was just a little nervous this morning about my first day here.” MMT
  13. Today, I watched from the car as my teenage son walked into the front door of the school. He stopped and held the door open for the girl behind him who was in a wheelchair. And although I sometimes give him a hard time, that small moment reminded me he’s a pretty darn good kid. MMT
  14. Today, my wife prepared an extra plate of food for the homeless man who sleeps in our alleyway. She does this almost every evening. MMT
  15. Today, I have a recently torn ACL, and my knee is still too swollen to walk. I was crutching through the rain across the quad on my college campus, wearing a rain coat, but otherwise exposed to the elements (you can’t really carry an umbrella while on crutches). As I was trying to get out of the rain as quickly as possible, a girl I didn’t know stopped and offered to put my hood up for me, which I gladly accepted. Her random act of kindness surprised me, and MMT.
  16. Today, for a moment I was frustrated to go to work on a Saturday morning. Then I remembered waking up in a safe warm bed when others don’t. I contemplated driving in my nice car, while others walk. I sipped on my warm coffee and ate a slice of toast while I thought about how others went to bed hungry last night and woke up this morning, still hungry. Instead of fretting about working today, I choose to smile. It’s my goal to find someone who woke up cold and hungry this morning, and give them what I make today, hoping it will make much more than a day’s difference to them. MMT
  17. Today, my dad handed me a bottle of Windex and a roll of paper towel as we got in the car. He turned to me and said, “I just talked to your mom while she was on her lunch break. She mentioned her windshield got covered in bugs on the drive to work. Since we’re going to drive right by her work anyway, I figured we’d clean them off for her. It’s the little things, kiddo, which keeps love going.” By chance, while my dad was cleaning the windshield, my mom came out with her kids for recess. Her smile and seeing how in love my parents are MMT.
  18. Today, at work we suddenly got very busy and I had to make several sandwiches while being yelled at by a coworker. After I was finished and was close to tears a lady came up to the counter and said, “You were the one who made my sandwich right? I just wanted you to know that it was amazing! Every time I come here you have a smile no matter how busy it is.” Her validation when I needed it most MMT.
  19. Today, late at night, I was driving on the highway when my tailpipe busted and started dragging along the street, making a loud noise and creating sparks. I pulled over and the man behind me pulled over too. I was nervous to get out of the car and had no cell phone. He told me he usually had tools but had recently taken them out of his car. He searched his trunk and found an old coat hanger. Somehow, using the coat hanger, he got my tailpipe hiked up enough and secured it so it wouldn’t drag. He also burned himself in the process. He wouldn’t take any money but said he hoped someone would help his family if they needed it. Because of his selflessness my kids and I were able to get safely to a garage near a relative. Good people like him MMT.
  20. Today, I found one of my old high school friends, who used to tutor me in math, begging for money outside of a convenience store. I took him out to lunch and he spilled his guts to me about how his wife (also an old friend from high school) died from cancer last year; and that due to a combination of lack of medical insurance, the loss of his job, and the downturn in the economy which forced him to foreclose on his home, he has nothing left. I set him up with a place to stay in my second bedroom, and told him we’d be roommates for as long as it takes him to get back on his feet. MMT
  21. Today, I woke up because of a rumbling outside. I looked out the window to see my teenage neighbor, who I rarely get along with, dragging my trash can up my driveway out of the wind. MMT
  22. Today, I was at my job as a hostess. It was an especially hard day, and many customers had been rude to me. One man was sitting alone, eating at a table beside me. As I stood there, close to tears, he looked me in the eye and asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I told him I was going to school to be a teacher. When he left, he hugged me and handed me a twenty dollar bill. He said, “Make a difference, sweetheart,” and left. MMT
  23. Today, I took my guitar up to the city center intending to busk and make some money for a festival ticket I wanted. Instead I decided to play next to a homeless man. I made over $100 for him and spoke to him for a few hours. Turns out he had lost his wife and house in the same week a year ago, and told me through tears that he never believed a stranger could be so kind. MMT
  24. Today, my mom had my grandfather - my dad’s father - over for Easter Sunday dinner because his wife passed away and my dad was away on business. My mom and dad have been divorced for 13 years, but my mom didn’t want my grandfather to be alone. Her kindness MMT.
  25. Today, a young man three seats away from me on the airplane purchased a meal. When his debit card wouldn’t work, the woman next to him gave her debit card to the flight attendant. As she did this, the young man said “thank you” and asked the flight attendant if they offered military discounts, as he’s active duty. The flight attendant handed the woman her card and told them both it was on the house. MMT
  26. Today, one of my ex-students from nearly a decade ago, who claims that I was his favorite teacher and his inspiration, mailed me $1000 to help pay my mortgage payment this month after he found out from a mutual acquaintance that the school board had laid me off, and that I was struggling to find work. MMT
  27. Today, I was walking my 6-year-old son to school when we passed a homeless woman holding a sign that said, “Please help me! I’m hungry.” My son let go of my hand, opened his lunchbox, pulled out half of his ham sandwich and handed it to the woman. With the most sincere smile on her face, the woman said, “Oh my goodness, thank you!” and then immediately took a big bite of the sandwich. MMT
  28. Today, eight of my female students, who are all on the soccer team, showed up in class with dramatically shorter haircuts. After they found out their soccer coach had been diagnosed with breast cancer, they all went together yesterday afternoon and each of them donated 14 inches of hair to a cancer charity for wigs. MMT
  29. Today, I work at a college where one of our commuter students lost her house in a fire. She has three children, including a 3-year-old boy. I offered to donate my 4-year-old son’s clothes that no longer fit. After bagging up the clothes and explaining that the clothes were going to be given to a little boy whose house burned down, my son went and got two of his toy Matchbox cars. He put them in the bag and said, “Now he’ll have some toys to play with too.” MMT
  30. Today, I saw an older man sitting on a bench in Bryant Park wearing the same exact brand and style coat and boots I donated to a local charity for the needy this past holiday season. I’m not 100% sure they were the items I donated, but when I walked by the man, I said, “Nice boots!” And he replied, “Thanks. A special someone gave them to me for Christmas.” MMT
  31. Today, at the animal shelter where I volunteer, a little boy and his mom, who had adopted a kitten last week, came into our lobby carrying big bags full of food, toys, blankets, and other supplies we desperately need. The boy’s mom said, “Today is his birthday. Instead of birthday presents, he asked his dad and me to help donate to the shelter.” MMT
  32. Today, as I cried in front of the cash register at the drug store, a customer in line behind me felt sorry for me for having my college health insurance expire the day before and paid the $180 fee for my depression medication, saying, “Smile. The gift giving season just came early this year.” MMT
  33. Today, I missed the last bus home by a matter of seconds. I was actually chasing the bus down the street, but I couldn’t get the driver’s attention. It was dark and cold outside, and I was exhausted. I literally fell to my knees in tears because I’m barely making ends meet, and a taxi fare to my house is nearly $70. But a few seconds later a woman named Jayden stopped her car on the side of the road, rolled down her window, and said, “I don’t usually do this, but do you need a ride? I’ve been in your shoes before and I know it sucks.” She gave me a ride all the way to my apartment, and we had a great conversation on the way that left us both smiling as I got out of her car. MMT
  34. Today, I was serving a lady and her blind daughter. I didn’t really pay too much attention to the blind girl’s condition. I simply chatted with her, took her order, and served her like I would anyone else. I really didn’t think anything of it. But when I went to collect their final bill, the lady had left me a 400% tip and wrote on the receipt, “Thank you for treating my daughter with respect and making her laugh. You made my day.” MMT
  35. Today, my bicycle tire popped on my way home from work. I was walking it along the side of the road when a car pulled over a few yards in front of me. A lady got out and said, “Hey, I own a bicycle shop downtown called New Spokes Bicycles. I have a spare tire in my trunk. Let me help you out, free of charge.” She then took a small toolbox and a new tire out of her trunk, changed my tire, gave me her business card, and drove away. MMT
  36. Today, I was at a baseball game with my girlfriend. It was the first game she had ever been to. She talked the whole time about wishing she could catch a home run. When a ball came soaring in our direction, a young teenage boy sitting in front of us caught it. He immediately turned around and offered it to my girlfriend and me. We thanked him and insisted that he keep the ball. But his kindness, especially at his age, MMT.
  37. Today, it’s been two years nice my mom lost her battle with cancer. She was 40 at the time and I was 13. Since then her best friend, Joy, has treated me like her own daughter. She picks me up for school 3 days a week on the mornings my dad has to leave early, packs me lunches, takes me to doctor’s appointments, talks to me about the birds and the bees, etc. Recently I told her that I appreciate it, and she replied, “There’s no reason to thank me. As far as friends go, your mom was my soul mate. And although I decided to never have kids, I have one, you. I love you like my own daughter.” MMT
  38. Today, my son is confined to a wheelchair and can’t participate in a lot of things because of it. This past weekend we went to an orchard to buy apples. The orchard staff was offering wagon rides for a small price. He wanted to go but we couldn’t get his chair in the wagon. A couple of men working at the orchard picked him up, chair and all and took him on a 20 minute trip around the orchard. When they returned they unloaded him and refused to take the wagon ride fee. My son had the biggest smile on his face. MMT
  39. Today, after drinking several beers at a bar downtown for my friend’s birthday party, I walked down the road to the bus stop and waited. I was too tight on cash to get a taxi, but I could afford a bus fare. While I was waiting at the bus stop, a taxi pulled up to see if I wanted a ride. It turned out to be a taxi driver who has given me a ride several times before over the years. I said, “No thanks, I’m tight on money right now and I don’t have enough cash on me.” “Don’t worry about it, jump in,” he said. “You’re a regular, and you’ve tipped me well over the years. I’m getting off my shift now anyway, and I’m heading your way.” He dropped me off at my home free of charge, and even refused a small tip. He smiled and said, “Tonight I’m giving you the tip.” MMT
  40. Today, my direct supervisor got a promotion, and instead of accepting the full dollar an hour raise that went with it, she requested to split the total raise 50/50 with me, since I was her hardest worker and hadn’t gotten a raise in the past year due to budget cuts. MMT
  41. Today, in my check-out line at the grocery store where I work, a flustered elderly woman realized she was six dollars short on cash for her groceries, and didn’t have a credit card on her. The three people in line immediately behind her each chipped in two dollars so she didn’t have to put anything back. Their spontaneous generosity MMT.
  42. Today, on my birthday, on my last delivery of the night, I delivered a pizza to one of our regular customers. When he opened the door, he threw confetti, grabbed the pizzas, and said, “Jason, you’ve been delivering my pizzas for two years now and they’re always hot and delicious! Your co-worker told me I would be your final delivery this evening, because you’re taking the rest of the night off to celebrate your birthday. Happy birthday! Have some fun on me this evening.” And then he handed me a $100 tip. MMT
  43. Today, on a really busy morning at the grocery store where I work, I was ringing up a teenage boy who came to my register with a cart full of groceries. I scanned all of the items and began to bag them when he told me that he would bag them, which people rarely do. Once he paid, he stood nearby waiting on his little sister who was in the restroom. I began to scan another customer’s groceries and the teenage boy walked back to my register and began to bag the customer’s groceries for me. He said, “You look tired, and I’m just standing around. Let me help you.” He bagged her groceries, smiled at me and left when his sister returned. MMT
  44. Today, while walking my dog I saw a homeless man holding a box of kittens. When I asked him about them, he said that someone had abandoned them next to a dumpster in the alley way where he sleeps. “I’ve been feeding them whatever food I could find,” he continued. “But I could use some help if you know someone who could give them a better home.” I called my dog’s vet, who is the ultimate animal lover, and told her the story and where to find the homeless man. This evening I received a voicemail from the vet. She said, “I just wanted to thank you, and let you know that I have temporarily adopted the kittens. I will make sure each of them finds a permanent, happy home. Also, I was so moved by Shawn’s (the homeless man) goodwill, and the fact that he seems levelheaded, that I have offered him a part time job at the animal clinic and a free place to stay until he can get his act together. Not sure how that will go, but I figured it was worth a try.” MMT
  45. Today, I am an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran. Upon arriving home three years ago from my final tour to Afghanistan I found out that my wife had been cheating on me and had spent/stole almost all of our money. I had nowhere to stay and no phone and was suffering from severe anxiety problems. One of my close friends from high school, Shawn, and his wife, seeing that I was in need of help, took me in and let me live with their family of five. They helped me deal with my divorce and get my life together. Since then, I’ve moved into my own place, opened a fairly successful diner, and my friend’s kids call my Uncle Jay when they see me. The way they adopted me into their family in my desperate time of need will always MMT.
  46. Today, my husband and I were shopping at a thrift store and came across a huge lego collection that they were selling in bulk. We wanted to get it for our son for Christmas, but we didn’t have enough cash on us and, truthfully, it was out of our price range. After a short discussion, we moved on and shopped around the rest of the store. About 30 minutes later when we got to the checkout counter the entire lego set was sitting up there. The cashier said, “These legos are for you. A man who was in here earlier paid for them, pointed to you and said, “I’m buying this for those two over there. Please have them pick it up before they leave.” MMT
  47. Today, it’s been ten years since my best friend became ill and needed a kidney transplant. As I was a fitting donor, I chose to donate one of my healthy kidneys to her even after doctors said her chance of survival was only 30%, and that there would be inherent risks to my health as well. But here I am at 10AM, getting ready to drive to her wedding venue where, in just a few short hours, I will be her maid of honor as she marries the love of her life who she happened to meet at the hospital ten years ago. MMT
  48. Today, after coming home from an exhausting twelve hour shift at the hospital, I realized I had forgotten to collect my laundry from the dryer in the shared laundry room of my apartment complex. I was particularly bitter about this because it meant that all of my clean work clothes would now be wrinkled and need to be ironed. Tired and with aching feet, I went to retrieve my laundry only to find that someone had taken all of my clothes out of the dryer and neatly folded them for me. MMT
  49. Today, it’s been four months since I totaled my car. I have been in and out of the hospital a lot ever since with severe back pain. This forced me to use all my sick time and vacation time. This morning my boss, who is usually really hard on me, called me into her office and told me she talked with HR and donated five days of her own unused vacation time to me so I would still get paid when I go out of town to visit my parents for Christmas. MMT
  50. Today, I was putting quarters into a parking meter for my parking spot downtown when a homeless man asked me if I could spare some change. I actually had a lot of coins in my purse, so I handed him about five dollars in change. The meeting I attended downtown ran about two hours longer than I had expected it to, and about an hour longer than I had paid for on the parking meter. But when I got to my car, the homeless man I had given change to earlier was putting a quarter into my parking meter. When he saw me, he said, “Oh good, you’re back. A little while ago the meter maid was ticketing cars with expired meters, so I’ve been slowly putting some change into your meter to keep you out of trouble.” MMT
  51. Today, I was hungry when I boarded my flight home from San Diego to Chicago. I was craving a Sullivans Steakhouse filet (Sullivans is my favorite restaurant), so I sarcastically tweeted, “Hey @SullivansSteak – Can you meet me at the O’Hare airport with a 10 oz filet when I land at 8PM? Great, thanks! :)” It was just a joke, so I didn’t expect anything to come of it. But when I walked past the security exit toward baggage claim there was a man wearing a Sullivans polo and holding a sign with my name on it. When I introduced myself, he said, “Our CEO just happened to see your tweet this evening and had us prepare this for you. It’s on the house. Welcome home.” MMT
  52. Today, I met an older woman at a large art fair my company was attending who sat at the booth next to ours. Her small business makes pressed flower books. This morning I overheard her explain how difficult it is to perfectly press the flowers. She said that the hardest part of making a book is to find the right flowers – ones that are in good shape. She said she wished flowers would just pop up nearby in perfect shape. On my lunch break I came across a patch of beautiful wildflowers on the side of the road. I stopped and picked the nicest flowers I could find and put them in a plastic bag. When I got back from lunch, before she got to her booth, I put the bag of flowers in the woman’s booth. Ten minutes later when she opened the bag, the look on her face was like a little kid opening a great present on Christmas morning. I didn’t tell her they were from me, but she noticed me looking at her, held the flowers up for me to see and with the biggest smile on her face said, “Someone just made my week!” MMT
  53. Today, I was ringing up a soldier wearing his uniform at Walmart. When I thanked him for his service, he smiled and said that he just got back from Afghanistan and was happy to be home. Then as I read him the amount he owed for his purchases, a man with a small son who was in line behind the soldier stepped forward and handed me cash for the soldier’s purchases. He looked at him and said, “Thank you for your service. This one’s on me,” and then looked down at his son, pointed back at the soldier and said, “This is what a hero looks like.” MMT
  54. Today, I served a large table of rude people at the restaurant where I work. The cook made one small error on one of the orders and, even after I fixed the mistake, all ten of the people at the table, who I had waited on hand and foot for two hours, didn’t leave me a cent for a tip. One of them actually wrote, “Maybe you’ll get it right next time,” on a napkin. It almost brought me to tears. Then a few minutes later I went to pick-up the final signed receipt from two business men who were sitting across from the table of ten. They left me a $100 tip and also left me a note on a napkin that said, “Don’t let those fools ruin that beautiful smile.” MMT
  55. Today, after the veterinary informed me that the tumor in Rogan’s (my 7 year old dog) abdomen was malignant and life threatening, I cried in the waiting area for several minutes and told the doctor that I could not afford the $920 that it would cost for the surgery to remove it. “Well, we’ll keep him here for the rest of the day and run a few more tests,” the doctor said. “Go home, get some rest, and I’ll call you in a few hours.” I left and I didn’t hear from the veterinary’s office for 7 hours until this evening at 7PM. The doctor called and told me he decided to do the surgery free of charge. “I’ve already removed the tumor,” he said. “Rogan is doing well. Since we caught it early, he will likely make a full recovery.” MMT
  56. Today, my son is a competitive freestyle swimmer at the top of his sport both locally and regionally. He was won both the county and state 200 meter and 400 meter races. About six years ago, when my son was only thirteen, I lost my job and struggled to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. Although it killed me inside, during this time, I had to force my son to dropout of swimming competitions and camps simply because I could not afford the swim gear and associated costs. Once he dropped-out, his swim coach came to our house and insisted that he re-join the team and all the competitions. “He’s too good,” he said. “I will help you pay his way.” And he did. Now six years later, my son received an invite to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. MMT
  57. Today, after being laid off for several months from my normal construction job, I returned home from my temporary bus boy job that I’m working just to keep on the lights, and came to the realization that I could either afford to pay the mortgage or buy food for me and my daughter. Due to an unexpected hospital visit this month, I simply didn’t make enough money. As I was sitting alone at my kitchen table trying to figure out what I was going to do, I received a knock on the door from my neighbor who owns a local grocery store. He said, “Some wealthy couple ordered and paid for 50 platters of cold cuts, fruit, salad, and chicken wings for some party they were hosting, but then called me this afternoon and said that they had to cancel the party. When I told them that the food was already prepared and paid for, they said, ‘Give it away to someone who needs it.’ I know you’ve been struggling with your job recently, so I thought of you first.” Needless to say, my daughter and I now have enough food to last us the rest of the month until I get paid again. MMT
  58. Today, my husband, who is an Army Ranger deployed in Afghanistan, emailed me 15 photos and a short video clip of him and 7 of his platoon mates laughing and goofing around while wearing the Santa hats, vests, and various holiday trinkets I shipped to him last week. At the end of the video clip they all struck a funny pose and shouted, “Thanks for making us smile, Amy!” Knowing my small gesture made a difference MMT.
  59. Today is the one year anniversary of my mom’s death. I woke up this morning feeling really down about it, but when I turned on my phone I had 8 text messages and 4 voicemails from different friends, all letting me know that they were here for me if I needed them. The fact that they care and remembered without me saying anything makes me smile and MMT.
  60. Today, it’s been almost 30 years since I first started volunteering at the local library for the bi-weekly ‘Children’s Story Hour.’ Reading to the kids, seeing their expressions and answering some of their curious questions has been my healing escape from the daily grind over the years. But I never really looked at my volunteer work as anything more… until today. Today our local news channel completed a series entitled, “Local Heroes.” 127 adults in the county voted for me, saying something like, “Cheryl’s ‘Story Hour’ is one of the warmest memories from my childhood.” I didn’t even realize I had been nominated until a news truck pulled up to my house this afternoon. My 127 votes landed me a tie for 2nd place. And interestingly, all the other names on the top of the list were local firefighters, police, and politicians. MMT
  61. Today, a few months after my fifth bone marrow donation for my 8-year-old cousin who is battling leukemia, I found out that he is now healthy enough to return to “normal daily activity.” He starts school again next week. MMT
  62. Today, I finished my four years of active duty service in the Marine Corps. I’ve spent the last few days tying loose ends in the area. This afternoon I went to a local pub I’ve been frequenting for the last couple of years. I had an open tab for what probably amounts to a couple hundred dollars and I wanted to pay the tab before I left town. The owner wasn’t in, so I had the main bartender look up my tab for me. “Didn’t you pay it off already?” she asked. “No,” I replied. “Well, our records indicate that you paid it off last week.” She showed me a receipt marked ‘paid’ initialed by the owner. “He’s very meticulous with his finances,” she continued. “So you must have paid it last week.” I was out of town last week. MMT
  63. Today, one of my regulars – an older guy name Jay – came into the convenience store at my gas station and ordered his usual coffee and newspaper. He placed them on the counter and then went to the back and grabbed a bag of dog food and a pre-made sandwich. I didn’t think anything of it until about 10 minutes after he left when I stepped outside to have a cigarette and a homeless man with a dog was sitting out front. The dog was eating directly out of a bag of dog food and the man was eating a sandwich. MMT
  64. Today, when my wife showed up to do a 5K walk in support of her breast cancer, over 400 of her current and past students (she’s a high school English teacher) and several of her colleagues showed up, unexpectedly, wearing pink shirts with her photo and a caption that read, “We’re going to beat this together.” I’ve never seen my wife so overwhelmed with joy before in my life. MMT
  65. Today, my two daughters, 4 and 6, wanted ice cream from the ice cream shop next to the grocery store we had just finished shopping at. But ever since my husband and I were forced to foreclose on our home we have been budgeting our money down to the penny, and only using cash for our purchases. I explained to my daughters that I had only brought enough money for the groceries. They were upset, but okay with it. Then, as we were packing all the groceries in our car, the ice cream store owner walked up with two double scoop ice cream cones. He said, “I was out front a minute ago and overheard your conversation. Today the ice cream is on me.” MMT
  66. Today, an elderly woman sitting at a Starbucks where I was eating my lunch accidently spilled her coffee. Before she could even get up, a man sitting at a table nearby (a total stranger) grabbed his napkins and pushed the spilt coffee on the table away from her before it dripped onto her lap. As an employee walked over to help clean up, he asked the elderly lady what kind of coffee she was drinking and then went up to the counter and ordered another cup for her on his own dime. MMT
  67. Today, almost 5 years after I stopped volunteering at the suicide prevention hotline, the new manager gave me a call. She said this afternoon they received a $25,000 anonymous donation to help fund the support line. Along with the donation they received an email that read, “Thank you Claire. You saved my life.” Apparently, I’m the only Claire who ever volunteered there. MMT
  68. Today, my dad brought me into the city to one of his favorite restaurants. He ordered a large amount of food and only ate half of it. On the way home, he drove a route I was unfamiliar with. He pulled over near an alley and said, “I’ll be right back.” Then he grabbed the leftovers, ran into the alley, and returned empty handed. When I asked him what he did, he replied, “There’s a homeless veteran back there who I’ve been giving leftovers to for the last 10 years.” MMT
  69. Today, I ran into the same homeless man twice. The first time was when he asked me for some spare change and I handed him a five dollar bill. The second time was in the grocery store line 30 minutes later when I realized he was at the register two people in front of me buying milk and bread totaling $4.97. MMT
  70. Today, as I stood at the foot of my fiancé’s grave crying, a pretty woman came up to me and gave me a huge hug. She said, “I’m sorry for your loss. I know exactly how you feel. My husband passed away 3 years ago.” Then we stood in silence together for several minutes. Now I’m sitting across the table from her at a coffee house. Her name is Angel. We’ve spent the last two hours talking. MMT
  71. Today, my oldest brother was deployed to Afghanistan for 9 months. My mom was really upset. This evening my brother’s best friend knocked on our door and spent a couple of hours chatting with my mom and telling her funny stories from the past about my brother. He told me, “I came over just to make your mom smile.” MMT
  72. Today, a boy in my 9th grade home economics class brought in two dozen red roses and gave one rose to every girl in the class, then handed me the remaining roses and said, “These are for you.” He did this following a conversation a few of my girls started in class yesterday about never receiving flowers from anyone. And they finished the conversation by asking me if had. I jokingly said, “It’s been a long time.” MMT
  73. Today, on the NYC subway I was riding a very pregnant woman got on the packed train and an elderly man immediately got up and offered the woman his seat. She smiled and sat down. Then, no more than 5 seconds later, a teenager with spiked blue hair got up and offered his seat to the elderly man. The elderly man smiled and sat down. MMT
  74. Today, we live in a lower-middle-class neighborhood. My wife was just diagnosed with breast cancer, so my 14-year-old son decided that he wanted to raise money to help pay for some of her miscellaneous medical expenses. His idea was to go door to door around the neighborhood with battery operated hair clippers and let people shave a part of his head for a small donation of their choosing. He asked me whether a $100 goal would be too much. I told him not to get his hopes up. He came back home ten minutes ago with a totally bald head and $1,223. Two people gave him $100 bills. MMT
  75. Today, I stopped on the side of the road to help an elderly man who was struggling with changing a flat tire. It turns out he was the firefighter who pulled my mom and me out of our burning apartment when I was a kid. Even though I hadn’t seen him in 30 years, it only took me a few seconds to recognize him. We chatted about it for awhile, and then as soon and I had the spare tire secured on his car, we looked at each other, shook hands and said, “Thank you,” simultaneously. MMT

If you enjoyed these short stories from Makes Me Think, I highly recommend you also read PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives and Other People’s Love Letters: 150 Letters You Were Never Meant to See.

Photo by: Brandon Warren

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32 Comments

  • AWESOME to the very first story, and the many that follow! This is where we shine as a world. Instinctively, no matter what our race, color, religion, gender, or social status, we always respond when we see another human being who’s in pain. It’s the way we should live every day, every moment, every second.

  • These stories are wonderful!!! I loved reading them. Thank you and thanks to everyone who shared them!

  • Wow! Some of the stories you post here from time to time bring tears to my eyes and a swell in my heart. Keep them coming; I have enough paper napkins for nose blowing. Inspiring!

  • Beautiful stories!

  • AMAZING Stories!
    Here is one from Sunny South Africa.
    On a weekday after work, the traffic was once again as usual a nightmare, on one of the main road traffic lights were off, this was causing absolute havoc. A selfless African gentleman got out of his comfy Merc and started directing traffic. He didn’t need to. There are good people out there!!!

  • Some of those brought tears to my eyes. Absolutely beautiful.

    On my radio show I normally discuss bizarre news stories, but today, as a change, I’m going to talk about some of these.

    :-)

  • Thanks for sharing these wonderful stories! Each one is an example of the kindness and generosity in the world.

  • THANK YOU! to everyone who took the time to send in their stories and to Marc and Angel for taking the time to share them. I read every one and they are all so beautiful. Wouldn’t it be lovely if this was the sort of news we could have on our TV’s each morning?! xo

  • Thank you. These are indeed day-brighteners and give hope to folks who have little. May the heavens continue to bless you as you spread happiness and good news.

  • This is such a wonderful way to begin my day. Stories like these just reaffirm my belief in the generosity of everyday folks.

  • Thank you for the wonderful stories. I am having a rough day and needed this so your generosity in sharing these stories :)

  • These beautiful stories made my day. I am here at work trying to stop the tears of joy. Thank you.

  • I was in such a funk today and these stories brightened my day considerably. Some of them made me cry tears of joy for the beauty that people bring to others. Thank you :+}

  • Thank you for sharing those beautiful stories. As I read them at my office in between assignments, it warms my heart and keeps me “connected”.

  • Another heart warming post by you two! Thank You.

  • Amazing stories! Thank you so much for sharing and reminding us of people’s generosity…

  • I wonder if the blue mohawked guy in #73 is the same young guy I bought an ice cream for after he dropped the one he’d just bought in times square last week. I’d like to think so… We were visiting from Australia.

  • How easy it would be for us all to help create a more kind world simply by looking outside ourselves. My 8 year old Italian Greyhound had a Mast Cell Tumor that needed to be removed. As I am going through a long overdue divorce, and my money had been cut off, I could not see a way I could afford the care she needed. My sweet aunt and uncle arranged for both of my dogs free boarding at the Vet Clinic he use to own while I traveled out of state for divorce meetings. I came home to pick up my dogs, my Greyhound having had the surgery at a huge discount I could afford. I found out today they got all of the cancer. Such gratitude. I commit to and challenge others to looking for opportunities to make life happier for others.

  • Wow! These are some amazing stories. You do such a good job at telling these stories. This is the type of story that warms the heart.

  • So many great stories, but if I had to pick favorites, I’d say 6 and 73.

  • Today, I was sick and had to cancel all my plans that I was looking forward to. I finally began to feel better enough in the late afternoon to check my emails. I was feeling kind of down as I did not really enjoy my day. Then I got an email that listed 75 instances of people doing good things for each other! It MMT. Seriously, we sure could use more of this sort of thing, it would help us to feel better about each other! Thanks for the reminder.

  • Thank you for compiling this list of inspiring life stories. I cried on reading them. Also realized that I’ve already been doing random acts of kindness by just being myself. (previously i thought random acts of kindness required more effort)
    Keep doing what you’re doing… Spreading the words of positivity =)

  • In a world that often seems full of negative these were refreshing, positive, simple but meaningful acts of generosity. A random act of kindness, a smile, character and common courtesy still have value in day to day life. Thanks for sharing:)

  • These stories made me tear up. Damn you onions… :)

  • Wonderful stories, self motivating and inspirational! Great reminders that we should always have a very big heart.

  • after reading all of that I wanted to add my own. At my father’s funeral in 2001, an older gentleman walked up and introduced himself to me. He told me the story of how one weekend his furniture warehouse caught fire and all of his inventory was lost including much of the showroom. and how later that evening my dad, his competitor and someone he had only briefly met before, called him and asked him what furniture he needed and if he needed warehouse space to continue operating until insurance and his suppliers could get him operational again. I always wanted to be like him, but never more so then at that moment.

  • Its a public holiday today…no work…and someone emailed me a link to this so I have read each story whilst in bed woth a big smile on my face cos there are people in this world who have wonderful hearts who make people smile and know how to love…thank you…

  • Thank you for these wonderful stories. I have been having troubles lately in every aspect of my life (school, work, housing increase, car accident, debt…etc etc). Then I hear some of these stories and the kindess of other people, it reminds me that not everyone is out to get me and I could be worse off.

    Although I do truly wish that people would look more closely at the bigger picture and how every action has a chain reaction either it would be good or bad. Let’s hope for more good and kindess!

    I still have my health and I thank God everyday for that.

  • Samitha De Silva
    June 12th, 2012 at 3:18 am

    Amazing stories!
    thumbs up !!

  • These story’s give me hope! :)

  • These are all very inspirational!

  • Today I went into work as normal (I’m a firefighter). My Chief called a team meeting shortly after which wasn’t unusual. So I changed into my uniform and joined the team meeting. It was then that he had announced that I had been nominated for ‘Hero of the Year’. Naturally I was extremely shocked and said that I wouldn’t accept the award because I was doing what all of us had done in the past.

    It wasn’t until then that I heard the talking and walking of people outside the station, my Chief said “Vicki, they’re here for you, go take a look”. I went outside and was met by about 50-60 people just staring at me with massive smiles on their faces. The rest of my station then walked past me and joined the crowd.

    One of my colleagues who I had never really gotten on with came up to me, and said ‘Vicki, you’ve saved all of us at least once, some of us more so, and we’d like to show you our appreciation for all your help, loyalty and unwavering bravery’

    It was at that point that I just broke down and started to cry. That’s when the Mayor walked up from between people in the crowd and said, ‘If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here today, and I wouldn’t be able to present you with this award.

    The whole situation made my heart warm. To this day, I maintain that I was just doing my job, but knowing that I could make a difference to all those people, makes it 100% worth it.

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