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The Angel Checklist

When I found the Great Kindness Challenge list, I knew my son would love participating. We became two earth angels on a quest to help others.

By Alina Larson

WEB EXCLUSIVE

I’m a list person. It’s the only way I can remember to do things. And what a great satisfaction it is to check things off once they’re done, right?

So when I stumbled on the Great Kindness Challenge, I was thrilled. The event features a checklist of 50 kind acts. Though the event is August 14, and Be an Angel Day is August 22, the ideas are things adults and children can easily do any day. Like fellow mom and Angels editor Colleen Hughes, I loved how the list combines everyday courtesies and fun activities.

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When Luke and I looked at the list together, it was fun to see things that we’d already done: smile at 25 people, feed the birds, hug your friend, call Grandma, hold the door open for someone, recycle. Check, check, check…

Then we decided on a handful of things we wanted to do: thank a bus driver, pick up trash, cut out 10 hearts and leave them on 10 cars, and plant a garden.

Focusing on kindness has also made me more aware of the everyday angels we meet.

Like a transit worker. One morning I was at the end of a line of 25 people (I counted) waiting to buy subway passes. In the summer, subway stations are saunas, and we all stood sweating in our work clothes. Suddenly I heard a weary, “Come on” and turned to see a transit worker holding the door open so we all could ride the subway for free. It was the heartiest "thank you" I’d given in a long time!

Or like the couple who let us squeeze our car into the lane we needed when no one else would. I only had two extra dollars to pay toward their $8 toll, but it felt good to let them know that I appreciated that small gesture.

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Luke’s favorite part of this has been the element of surprise. This morning, after we slipped 10 pink hearts on the windshields of 10 cars, we had so much fun imagining the car owners’ reactions.

Walk or bike instead of driving, check. Compliment five people, check. Donate clothing, check. Joining my son in the joy of giving—great big check!

Photos: Picking up litter in my neighborhood; Luke helps his dad bag food for his church’s food pantry; Baking cookies to thank Luke’s teachers; Putting hearts on cars. Won’t the driver be surprised!

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Alina Larson is a senior online editor at Guideposts.org