A random act of kindness is a selfless act performed by a person or people wishing either to assist or to cheer up an individual person or people. The phrase may have been coined by Anne Herbert, who says that she wrote "Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty" on a place mat at a Sausalito restaurant in 1982 or 1983. Either spontaneous or planned, random acts of kindness are encouraged by various communities. Another story credits much of this phrase to Bakersfield College professor Chuck Wall of Bakersfield, California.,
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The Jewish concept of a mitzvah is used colloquially to mean a good deed or an act of kindness. Judaism teaches that "the world is built on kindness." Kabbalistic teaching sees kindness as emerging from the first of seven Divine emotional attributes; to be effective kindness must be balanced and considered, while mercy is also for the undeserving. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson told reporters that to bring the Moshiach sooner, people should "add in acts of goodness and kindness."
Social Storehouse is the largest Random Acts of Kindness Network allowing people to post what they need as well as allowing people to post what they have to donate. Social Storehouse believes there is enough to go around for everyone!
Caffè sospeso is a tradition in the working-class cafés of Naples where a person who has experienced good luck financially pays for two coffees, but receives and consumes only one, the second being left until a person enquires later whether a sospeso is available.
The BBC 1 London News ran a News item entitled 'Hampers at the Ready' following 'The Kindness Offensive' event on the 22 December 2008, which saw the group work with seventy volunteers to hand out over thirty-five tonnes of presents to the public at random, as well as many other charities and community groups. The Kindness Offensive suggests that their Christmas event on the 22 December 2008 was the UK's largest ever random act of kindness.
HelpOthers.org is the home of Smile Cards and a portal of kindness stories, ideas, and online groups. It allows people to send random notes of kindness to others.
2012: The Newton Project attempted to quantify the benefits of the Random Act of Kindness concept in order to motivate people to perform additional acts of kindness.
On 14 November 2012 an NYPD officer, Lawrence DePrimo, was photographed giving socks and a pair of boots he had purchased for a bare-footed homeless man. The photograph later went viral.
Started in February 2014, the Feed the Deed campaign has inspired over 10,000 random acts of kindness around the world.
In film and literature
1993: Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty, a 1993 children's book published by Volcano Press and authored by Anne Herbert, Margaret Paloma Pavel, and illustrated by Mayumi Oda, with a 20th-anniversary edition published in 2014 by New Village Press that includes a foreword penned by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
2002: Join Me is a book written by humorist Danny Wallace; in which he tells of the cult he started by accident, the group's purpose is to encourage members (called Joinees and collectively known as the KarmaArmy) to perform random acts of kindness, particularly on Fridays which are termed "Good Fridays". Wallace has also published a book called Random Acts of Kindness: 365 Ways to Make the World a Nicer Place.
2007: The film Evan Almighty ends with God telling the main character, Evan, that the way to change the world is by doing one Act of Random Kindness ("ARK") at a time.
2009: Karen McCombie's book The Seventeen Secrets of the Karma Club revolves around two girls who (inspired by their favourite film Amélie) start up their 'Karma Club', the intention of which, is to do random acts of kindness anonymously.