Today I began my new set of adventures: honoring the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Random Act of Kindness #1 was dedicated to Noah Pozner, age 6. I learned from the internet that Noah “had a huge heart and was so much fun, a little bit rambunctious, lots of spirit… he was really the light of the room” according to his Aunt in a CNN interview. I knew right away what I could do to remember this sweet soul, a son quite similar to my nine year old: balloons!
My first stop was the Dollar Tree where I purchased 6 of the brightest, happiest, smiley faced balloons I could find; one for each year of his short life. The sales associate, Dean, was extremely helpful, holding the balloons while I attached a new business card to each string, taping a quarter on the back to act as a weight (and an extra surprise!) He shared his pen so I could write a message on the back of each card as well. He asked me if this was something for my son (noticing the little boy’s name on the cards), and I was surprised to find myself getting a little choked up explaining the purpose of the balloons. “No, these are not for my son. I’m doing 26 acts of kindness to honor the lives of those from Sandy Hook Elementary School.” He nodded (as did the other sales associate in the next lane over), and in a solemn voice asked, “Is he one of them?” pointing to Noah’s name. “Yes. Yes he is. Today is Noah’s day. He’s my first random act of kindness. I’m taking these balloons to a nearby playground and leaving them for children to discover and enjoy.” Ringing up my purchases, Dean smiled and said, “That is really nice of you. Really nice.” I gathered my balloons, returned his smile and said, “I can’t wait to surprise the kids!”
Driving to the playground, my brain was swirling. I was really hoping the playground would be empty so it truly could be a “drop and run” kind of act. Turning into the gravel lot, my tires crunching loudly as I pulled into a parking place, I could see several families already enjoying the swings and slides. What would they think when their children saw what I brought? Would they allow them to come near? Would they caution them about speaking to a stranger? It wasn’t my intent to hand out balloons; I wanted to leave them on the fence and had created a sign to explain my purpose:
As I tied the sign to the fence and started to separate the balloons, I heard a little boy to my left ask his Grandma, “What are the balloons for?” As his Grandma replied, “I’m not sure”, I looked up and met the eyes of a boy who very well could have been Noah himself, only a few years older. I smiled and said, “Oh! The balloons are free! Would you like one?” He came near (under the watchful eye of his Grandma, mind you) then as I untangled the balloon strings, a little girl came forward (who I later discovered was his sister.)
“Here you go! Have fun!” Smiles all around. Mission accomplished! I started to untangle the rest of the balloon strings (it was a little bit windy) and saw the Grandma approaching me. She had read the card attached to the balloon and simply said, “Thank you. Thank you so much.” She engulfed me in a tight hug and it was in that moment that the impact of this purpose, these 26 acts, hit me full force. With tears streaming down my face, my voice cracked as I sobbed, “It’s the least I can do.” Our tears were shared as she repeated “Thank you. Thank you.”
As we finished our hug, we started laughing through our tears. Oh, how good it felt to laugh in the midst of such an emotional, heart-felt moment! I asked her permission to take a picture for this blog:
As she went away with her grandchildren, I finished my task of placing balloons on the fence. Two balloons taken, four remained. This is what it looked like when I was done:
This is the business card I attached to the bottom of each balloon string:
I hope the children who found the last four balloons (and quarters, too!) were as blessed as I was with the Random Act of Kindness. It was a much more emotional task than I ever imagined, but I am so glad I took the time out of my day to bring a smile of joy to someone else. For Noah, I hope your memory continues to be lifted as high as smiley faced balloons as others pay it forward.
Blessings to each and everyone one of you reading this blog. 🙂
3 thoughts on “New Beginnings: Act 1”
I am writing you because my son, Eli, received the last balloon you left at Pole Green Park yesterday. Unfortunately, I did not go to the park with my son but my husband took Eli so he would run off some of his leftover “holiday energy.” Like Noah my son has a lot of spirit and a smile that could light up the darkest room! You have no idea how much that balloon meant to Eli and how very much it meant to me. My son is 7 years old and balloons are his favorite! We often times treat him with buying a balloon when he has a good week at school. You see my son has autism and the most simplest things can really make him happy…balloons are one of those simple things. In fact, last month we bought him a balloon and he let it go (by accident of course) in our house and it floated to the top of our vaulted ceiling. He had a major meltdown and it took us a long time to explain that he was not going to get his balloon back.
So when I opened his closet door last night I was shocked that I saw a smiley face balloon in it. I thought my husband had taken him to the store to get the balloon but he informed me that he got it “free” at the park. I laughed and said, “Yeah, right. A clown was at the park giving away balloons?” Eli showed me the letter and quarter that came with the balloon and tears filled my eyes. He had kept it in his closet because he was cherishing the balloon and didn’t want to lose it.
I was overwhelmed by your kind gesture and also by the memory of Noah Pozner, who I know was such a sweet little boy who was taken way too early. I tried to explain to Eli that this balloon was given to him by God in memory of a little boy just like him but who now lives with Jesus. I am not sure if he “got it” but I certainly did. I make the promise to you that I will pay it forward and keep Noah’s memory alive. Again, thanks so much for your act of kindness…it did not go unnoticed by our family! Your kindness has inspired us!
Like you, Tamara, I am also doing my 26 Acts now. I’ll be doing my Act 9 on Thursday. It’s amazing how quickly this spreaded throughout the world. I love your ideas for each act!
That is a really inspiring act of kindness. I am always amazed by your creativity!