We're approaching the winter holidays, and 'tis the season not only to be jolly and eat lots of food, but also for performing random acts of kindness. If those classic movies from when we were kids taught us anything, it's that our good-hearted heroes, who get no recognition for what they do at first, always come out on top in the end.
These do-gooders responded to the AskReddit, "What random act of kindness did you commit, and not tell anyone?" Maybe these will inspire you to do some good deeds of your own!
Here’s A Free Tip
“I leave HUGE tips for anyone throughout the entire month of December. I’m talking at least 50%, and more than that if they are amazing.
When I was waitressing to put myself through school, I was struggling. There were some LEAN months. I got an amazingly large tip one December and the person had just written ‘Happy Holidays’ on it. In the blink of an eye, I was suddenly able to afford presents for my family that year. I’ve never forgotten it and vowed to do the same when I could afford to. I never even get to see their reaction, but I am hoping it brings a smile.”
He Just Needed A Boost
“I have a recent one, but I’ll admit it wasn’t my first reaction to be helpful.
Just about 2-3 weeks ago, I was getting home late night after a double shift at work. I park my car on the street and was stopped by an older guy in a run-down car. Tired, and thinking he was hitting me up for money, I said I couldn’t help him and continued to walk into my house.
As I was rinsing my lunch dishes in the sink, I couldn’t stop thinking about the guy needing help. I put my hoodie on and walked back outside where he was. It turned out he needed gas and a jump-start for his car, and was stranded. I helped him get the gas from the station down the street, moved my car to jump his, and bid him a good night.
I went to bed much later than intended, but with a clean conscience. It felt like I put a little good in the world, despite my initially dismissive behavior. Better late than never.”
The Lucky Winner
“One of my co-workers works about 70 hours a week between a full-time job and at least 2 part-time jobs. She’s just trying to keep a roof over her and her son’s head and make sure he has everything he needs for school and sports. In addition to all that, she’s still the sweetest lady, makes time to help out others with problems, and always comes to work with a great attitude.
I know she NEVER buys anything for herself, and even cuts her own hair (not very well). So everyone from worked chipped in to give her a big spa day: massages, manicure, pedicure, facial, and a real haircut and color. Now… we had to be sneaky about it because she’s not one that accepts gifts or she’d want to pay us back or something foolish like that. So we made an official letter and mailed it to her, basically a ‘YOU’VE WON!!!’ With all the gifts cards to this particular spa.
The first thing she did? Called our work and tried to share the gift cards with everyone. (See?! The sweetest!) I quickly told her the gift cards probably weren’t transferable since she had won them… thankfully she fell for that and went and had a great spa day for herself.
That was 2 years ago, and after Christmas, we’re going to start saving up to do it all again for her birthday!”
One Family’s Leftovers Is Another Man’s Feast
“I went on vacation years ago with my then-boyfriend’s family, who happen to be rather rich. After the week-long vacation, the fridge and kitchen was full of our leftovers – lunch meat, bread, cheese, cake, drinks, juice, crackers, chips… probably enough to feed a few people for a few days.
His family was going to just throw it all away. I said, ‘No, we aren’t throwing this away.”
I bagged it all up and made one last trip down to the beach park where there was a group of homeless individuals hanging out. I walked for a bit and found a guy sleeping in the grass, and that guy felt like he was the ‘right’ guy for some reason. I calmly walked over to him and said, ‘Sir? I’m sorry to wake you, but are you hungry?’ Confused, he hesitantly said, ‘Yeah, usually.’ I handed him the bags and walked away. I watched him take a careful look inside.
Then, immediately, he got up and ran over to where some of the others had gathered and they all joyfully started reaching into the bags.”
One Less Christmas Present, But The Reward Was Greater
“I went out to dinner last week with my husband. I could just tell that there was something weighing heavily on our waitress. About halfway through our meal I said, ‘please don’t take this the wrong way, because I’ve never met you before, but are you ok?’ She opens up and tells me that she is 4 1/2 months pregnant and just got into a fight with her mom and sister.
We are certainly not rich, but I figured my family could do with one less Christmas present this year. I gave her a $100 tip.
My husband went to the restroom while I was signing the slip. I left it on the table and then stood outside waiting for him. He wanted to go back and see her reaction to what we did. I, on the other hand, feel like that cheapens it for me. I didn’t do it so she would thank me. I did it because I wanted to help her.”
The Good Kind Of Eavesdropping
“This is a very modest ‘good deed,’ but back in high school we had a really good ‘Hot Lunch’ line that was waaay better than the normal cafeteria food. They had loaded baked potatoes, pizza, some tasty salads, etc. The problem is it was more expensive, so they didn’t keep enough for everybody so that they wouldn’t have to throw any away. It was a first come first serve type thing, and the classes let out for lunch at different times. So the early classes always got first pick, and it was usually sold out before the late classes got there.
My class let out for lunch right about the time they always sold out, so we were always the ones who bought the last of everything. I would always either casually ask or eavesdrop on the people behind me to see what they were going to get, and then I’d get the opposite so that they could still get the food they wanted. If what they wanted was the last item left, I’d just buy a bottle of water and then get in line for the cafeteria food. I didn’t really care that much about what I ate for lunch, it seemed to be a bigger deal to everyone else.
So, I’m pretty much the best person ever.”
He Earned His Stripes
I paid for a WWII Veteran’s meal at a bar, after I had noticed his hat.
He found out it was me, and before I could slip out, he came up to me. We chatted a bit and I told him my first name, and that I worked up the street. A week later, I was called into HR and became instantly nervous. I find out that he tracked down where I worked and dropped off a very nice letter to my company. I contacted him again to see if he wanted to meet and get to know each other a little more, because he went above and beyond by improving my employee file even though I did it just to pay my respects.
We agreed and it turned into a few pizzas and drinks, talking about everything from war to our love lives. It turns out his son is a very well-known celebrity. It’s a small world.”
Before And After
“My boyfriend and I saw a homeless man, who must have been around our age (we’re in our mid-twenties), in the parking lot of a grocery store. He had two dogs with him. A few days later he was still there in the cold, sleeping. So we went home, grabbed a warm parka my boyfriend never wears, two sleeping bags that you can unzip (for him and his dogs), one of our bags of dog food, some groceries, and a few euros. We left it in a bag between him and the wall behind him so no one could steal it. His dogs licked us but he was still sleeping.
Yesterday I drove by and he was wearing the parka and his dogs were under one of the covers. It was a great feeling.”
“I used to stop at this convenience store daily on my way to work. There was a homeless man who sat outside this place and did nothing but say nice things to people. ‘Have a great day,’ ‘Happy Holidays,’ etc. I never heard him ask for anything or pester anyone.
One day, I pull up and he’s sitting on the ground – looking pretty banged up. I look over and see that his bike is pretty much mangled. I concluded that he got hit by a car. I asked what happened – and he confirmed that a lady ran him over and didn’t stop. She just drove away. He said that his bike is his livelihood – that he rounds up recycling and scraps it for money, but can’t do it without his bike. I told him I sympathized with him and hesitantly went about my business. As I was pulling away, I saw that there were two pawn shops less than a block over. I had the time, so I pulled in to see how much a bike was.
I told the pawn shop clerk what I was doing and we agreed on a price for either of two bikes, one of which would be given to the homeless fellow. I got a written contract from the manager and then took the receipt to use as a token. I let the homeless fellow know that he would have his choice of 2 bikes – and that I’d follow up tomorrow to make sure they didn’t try to work him over. He gave me a very smelly hug and cried a good deal. I saw him the next day on the new bike – but I left him alone because I don’t take compliments or appreciation well – and I didn’t want him to think he owed me anything. I’ve never told anyone about this.
One thing that has always bugged me is people that do good things and then boast about to anyone who will listen, with the expectation of getting praise in return. I know that they still did a good thing – but I believe that the good deed alone should be your source for satisfaction.”
A Few Extra Quarters
“When I worked at the mall, I’d make sure I had extra quarters in my pocket to give to the kids that wanted to play on the merry-go-round and other animal rides but didn’t have the means to. Seeing their faces light up when they realized they could actually ride on the rides for real and not just climb on them and pretend, was always amazing.
I also kept band-aids on me because I’d have a lot of kids walking around with blisters on their feet; I once made a mom carrying her crying son come into my store so I could give her band-aids to put on his feet. I’d also have times where kids had no concept of tax and if I had the extra change/money, I’d cover the rest they owed (it was usually only a dollar, at most). I ended up making an area where I’d hide loose change we found on the floor, just for this.
I spent a lot of time learning to listen to customers around me and stepping in to help whenever I could, and that kind of carried on outside of work. I learned to stop hesitating when I heard people needing help and started just doing it. It’s honestly been one of the best things I’ve learned to do.”
Great Customer Service
“I was at a discount retail clothing store and the line was TREMENDOUS. They must’ve had five cashiers, and as I’m standing waiting for one to open up, a younger woman with flushed cheeks and puffy eyes went to one of the unused registers. The girl next to her asked if she was okay and she said ‘yes’ and proceeded to call me over to her counter.
I basically asked something like, ‘Bad day?’ And she began telling me about how this customer completely ripped into her for something that wasn’t her fault and made her feel less than human. She was tearing up again as she spoke and I lended her a sympathetic ear. When she was done, I quickly asked if she liked chocolate and, confused, she said yes. I ran down to the displays I’d been previously waiting at and grabbed a bag of fancy assorted chocolates and bought it. It was only after I told her to keep it out of the bag that you could see it dawning on her, that I, a perfect stranger, was buying her something to cheer her up. She tried to decline it but I refused, and ultimately she hugged me across the counter and thanked me for being the exact opposite of her previous customer.
My favorite part about this was that I had my 6-year-old with me, and as we left the store she kept asking, ‘Is that your friend?’ ‘Do you know her?’ and so on. I was able to use this as a springboard to help reinforce that it’s important to be nice to people whenever you can.”
They Had A Deal
“I let a homeless teen eat and sleep in the restaurant I worked at, during my graveyard shifts.
When I was 18 or so, I worked graveyard at a restaurant. Most days, it was just me and the cook. Before my shift one night, I gave a friend a ride home who lived near a golf course. After backing out of the driveway, I caught a glimpse of something under an evergreen tree. As I slowly passed, I noticed it was a person. I wanted to stop my car, but I was scared.
Fast forward 2 hrs into my shift and this teen walks in and orders a coffee. He stayed a few hours, reading old newspapers, and we got to chatting. He told me his story and told him, ‘Hey. It’s pretty cold out there and winter is just starting. How about this, you can come here every night if you want. The cook is usually asleep the majority of the time, we’re slower in the winter, and I’d appreciate the company.’
I could tell he was giving it some thought.
So I did a couple side duties to give him some time to think. It gave me time to think as well. I came back to his table and said, ‘It’ll work. I can see it now. It’s not unusual for students to come here, drink coffee, and pull an all-nighter studying. I’ve seen them take a snooze on the floor in shifts with their friends. You’ll blend right in!’
He nodded, ‘I could do that.’ ‘Yeah! And if you need a ride into town for anything, I get done between 6-7 a.m. My place is in the country south of town so I have to drive through town to get home anyway.’
Our little deal worked out well. When we’d get hit with a bar rush, he helped bus tables for me. The cook didn’t notice as some regulars would help from time to time. He never had to pay for a meal because there were ‘mix-ups’ on the food ticket or people making a To-Go order who thankfully never drove to pick it up.
I stopped seeing him around town about 15 years ago. Good guy. I was glad to help him out. It didn’t cost a thing and he was treated the same as any of my regulars. No one was the wiser.”
She Did The Right Thing
“I was working as a waiter and had a nice table of 4 tourists with a bill of several hundred dollars. They paid in cash with crisp, new $100 bills and they left me a tip of exactly 20% + an additional $100 bill. Seeing how the new bills easily stuck together and knowing they were tourists who may have just taken money out for their trip or exchanged currency, I knew it had to be a mistake.
I ran out to the street, found them, asked how much they meant to tip me and gave them $100 back.
Could I have used that extra money? Heck yes. I was in my twenties, living away from home, had a tiny studio, a beater car, and was slanging fish & singing happy birthday multiple times per shift. But I just couldn’t live with myself knowing I chose that option and knew it would only enable me to make excuses for other immoral decisions down the line. I never regretted it and have had an amazing life since.”
There’s Nothing Better Than Pizza And A Taxi
“I’d just finished one of my evening swims. I’m getting changed and I hear a lifeguard getting shouted at because the floor was wet. In a pool. Like seriously, give her a break. This guy was laying into her about how he nearly slipped over and did the whole ‘I’m going to speak to a manager’ bit and then stormed off. I’m getting changed at this point, and I hear her start talking to one of her co-workers how she just wants some food, to go home and let the day be done. I’ve been going to this pool for ages, and I know that the pool closes at 10:00 pm and the staff leave at 10:30. I arranged for a pizza and pre-paid taxi to be waiting for her when she left, with a note saying, ‘Not every customer is a jerk. Hopefully this will cheer you up.’
When I next went swimming, I overheard her talk about this ‘amazingly random pizza and taxi,’ and how she ‘really needed it.’ I just smiled and carried on. Not bad for a guy with social anxiety and depression. That was when I found out my best coping mechanism was being a kind stranger.”
These comments have been edited for clarity.