October 29, 2014

HOOJA | $100 of Kindness

Print More

By GUNJAN HOOJA

In December of 2009 my grandmother passed away from breast cancer. She was one of the strongest, kindest and most full-of-life people that I have ever had the privilege to know. Every year since then I’ve wanted to do something in her memory; something that exemplified her values, her life and her legacy. Something that would show her, wherever she is, that the world is better because of her.

Fast forward to Spring of 2014. It’s May, and I know that I have made around $650 dollars this semester thanks to my job as a research assistant. An idea strikes me, and suddenly I know what I want to do in honor of her memory. I decide that a $100 of what I’ve made I’ll spend it on random acts of kindness. I start making a plan and I breakdown the 100 dollars in the following way:

$35 – Donuts and coffee for my elementary school teachers lounge.

$35- Coffee for the English, History and Science departments at my high school.

$30- Trips to pay for the person behind me in our local coffee shop drive thru.

Now, I promise it wasn’t my intention for all of these acts of kindness to revolve around coffee. The idea actually sprung out of my love for caramel iced coffee from my local coffee shop. I thought that if the person in front of me ever paid for my coffee one morning it wouldn’t just make my day — it would make my whole week. I realized for me, a simple two dollars had the power to perpetuate so much kindness and happiness. So that became my mission. With no other frame of reference, I decided to do acts that if the tables were ever turned would make me personally ecstatic.

After finishing the semester, I began doing these acts of kindness in my hometown. I noticed quite soon that these acts of kindness were greeted with peculiar looks and I realized that doing random nice things was not a norm. People that I came in contact with in the schools or in the drive thru liked the idea, but were initially very puzzled. These reactions made this project even more important to me, for I hoped that by doing one little act of kindness for someone they would hopefully be motivated to do the same later on.

I have always been an idealistic person, almost to a fault. Yet, I hoped that in this particular case my idealism wasn’t too far off the mark. Looking back on it now, I don’t think I could have picked a more perfect way to honor my grandmother. Her life was a testament in doing good, helping others and living a life filled to the brim with unique experiences.

After completing my mission, I realized that money in this case was a bit irrelevant. It was just because I chose coffee as my medium of doing good that those $100 were needed. I could have done a multitude of other things without money that would have achieved the very same goal. Hold the door for someone, volunteer, showcase your talents. In the end, if it puts a smile on someone’s face, it’s mission accomplished.

My call to action is simply this: Each day, each week or even each month, think consciously of doing small random acts of kindness. Do it for selfish reasons (it feels really good) or for selfless ones (making this world a little bit better). Either way, you’ll make this world a little easier to live in.

Gunjan Hooja is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at gh338@cornell.edu.