It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and miss what this special time is all about: helping others through selfless acts of kindness. No matter how small or large your gift may be, Christmas is about filling hearts around us with peace and joy, and giving to those that may be less fortunate.
So, in the true spirit of Christmas and paying it forward, here’s 8 inspiring stories that make us rethink our approach to the holiday season, and remind us how important it is to always be kind, above all else.
Note: You might want to bring out that box of tissues…
The Anonymous Secret Santa Who Fills Strangers’ Pockets With $100 Bills
It’s like finding a dollar in a coat you haven’t touched since last winter — but better. An anonymous, wealthy businessman from Kansas City has been lifting the holiday spirit of strangers for the past 12 years by handing out extra cash to those “who look as though they could use a little boost”. With the help of a dozen local police officers, he hits up a few cities and hands out anywhere between $100,000 and $200,000 each holiday season — all in the form of $100 bills. Mystery Santa said he looks for people who have sadness on their faces so that he can “give them hope that their life can be changed.”
“Our mission as humans is to do random acts of kindness. Kindness is the bridge between all people,” the anonymous businessman told CBS News.
We still don’t know who he is or where he’ll show up this year, but keep your eyes peeled for a surprise visit from the real secret Santa.
image by new darlings
The Christmas Tree Angel From Michigan
When Michigan resident Chad Rose just happened to have an extra Christmas tree that was used on his business’s parade float, he did what any decent person would do: he posted on Craigslist to give it away for free. For some, a tree is an annual necessity and integral part of the holidays, but for many it’s an expense that needs to be saved for daily essentials. After posting the ad, his inbox was immediately flooded with touching stories of why various families deserved to have the tree.
With each e-mail he read, it became clear how significant a simple tree can be in contributing to the holiday aura. One email, which he shared with MLive.com, read, “Having a real Christmas tree would be such a great blessing this year [because] usually we draw a Christmas tree on a large poster and hang it in the corner.” Realizing that $25 towards a tree was too much for some families to spare, Chad went out and bought 40 more to give away for free. He spent most of the next day going over his list of emails, checking it twice, and not paying much attention to who’s been naughty or nice – just deserving.
But the good holiday spirit in this story doesn’t stop there — Ann Posont of East Grand Rapids read Rose’s Ad and contacted him, not to get, but to give. She offered to donate ornaments and other trimming for the 40 trees he had picked up.
“Going out to gather up more trees after realizing the impact it would have on those in need is just so generous,” she said. “It tells a lot about his character, and makes you want to help.”
The College Student Who Found Her ‘Home Away From Home’ for Christmas
While all her classmates were eagerly making plans with family and friends for their trips back home for the holidays, Jackie Turner, a junior at William Jessup University near Sacramento, was worried she would be the only student left on campus for Christmas. “This time of year is hard,” Jackie said. “Everyone is talking about their cousins, their families, all the things that make up Christmas.” But Jackie says she doesn’t have any of that — and never did. She told CBS News that her childhood was abusive, and she never shared in any of the experiences she heard her classmates talk about. Instead of feeling sorry for herself, the straight A-student posted an ad on Craigslist offering $8/hour to rent parents for the holidays. “Maybe for like a couple hours,” she said, “just be, like, the light of their life for that moment.”
She got dozens of responses to her ad — about half from parents who wanted to help, for free of course — and about half from other young people who felt the same way she did. So, she held a meet up Christmas potluck dinner.
“People are hurting and broken and we need each other,” Jackie said. “We need to be loving people. And I think that’s what tonight’s about.”
Jackie not only found a mentor for herself that holiday season, but matched the needy with the needed. She continues to host yearly meet ups with a potluck Christmas dinner, because no one should ever feel alone on Christmas.
The Airline That Made Holiday Dreams Come True
Canadian airline WestJet delivered holiday cheer for 250 passengers on a flight to Calgary. The airline placed a digital Santa Claus at an airport, and asked passengers what they wanted for Christmas. While everyone was in the air, 175 WestJet workers sprinted to nearby stores and bought everything they asked ‘WestJet Santa’ for — from pairs of socks and underwear, to big-screen TVs. When the passengers arrived at their destination, every one was met with their dream gift at baggage claim.
This isn’t the first time WestJet has whipped out the holiday cheer, either. Last year, a flash mob of 150 volunteers performed a jolly dance in the waiting area for a red-eye flight, complete with Santa on the tarmac and stockings stuffed with new iPods.
image by hannah haston
The Little Girl Who Signed Her School Holiday Concert for Her Deaf Parents
Five-year-old Claire Koch used sign language during her kindergarten Christmas concert to make sure her deaf parents wouldn’t miss out on the holiday cheer.
“Claire used sign language in the play because she was considerate of us and wanted us to understand the lyrics to the song,” her mother told TODAY.
With her fingers and true Christmas spirit, Claire signed Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Jingle Bells, and more—and totally stole the show.
When Beyonce Surprised Walmart Shoppers With Their Gifts
While en route to a concert in Boston, Queen B made a pitstop at a Massachusetts Walmart to make Christmas that much brighter for a bunch of shoppers. The Grammy-award winning singer gave out gift cards to each shopper in the store, totaling roughly $37,500 total in gifts for their friends and families.
The Homeless Man With Terminal Cancer Who Gave Everything He Had
A homeless man in Colorado used what little he had to give a selfless gift during a toy drive at a local Walmart. Glen McCarthy walked to Walmart to get a cup of coffee, and was instantly touched by the toy drive that was going on. He ended up buying a Barbie and a Hot Wheels set, but he couldn’t stop thinking about a shiny new kid’s bike he saw. “And I looked at that bike, and the bike was marked $59, but the tag underneath it said $44,” he said.
It’s not a lot of money for some, but for Glen, it was nearly everything. Later that night, he still couldn’t stop thinking about the bike and how happy it would make a kid in his shoes, come Christmas morning. He walked back to Walmart and asked about the bike, since the tag listed two different prices. Once a clerk realized what he was doing, she told him that he could have the bike for $44.
I got to thinking, this is probably going to be my last Christmas. I’m no one, so might as well make some little kid happy. It took my losing everything to realize that I’m happier now in my life than when I had when I had big money,” he said.
The Teen Who Couponed His Way Into Buying $1,000 Worth of Food for the Poor on Christmas Eve
Sixteen year old Jordan Cox has a knack for extreme couponing, a talent he uses to help he and his struggling mom get by, according to the Telegraph. But this Christmas season, the savvy teen decided to also use his unique skill set to help struggling families in need. Jordan collected hundreds of coupons and purchased about $935 worth of groceries for less than a penny. He then donated it all to Doorstep, a nonprofit that disperses food to disadvantaged families.
“I decided I wanted to help as many people as I can, and to also show that it’s possible to shop very cheaply, if you know how,” Jordan said.
May your days be merry, bright, and full of love. Next time you’re feeling stressed about the holidays, we hope you remember these stories, count your blessings, and try to pay it forward by giving to those that need it most right now. Merry Christmas to all!