Let’s be real: 2020 was a difficult year. But all across the globe, people rose to the occasion with their own random acts of kindness ideas to make a bad year feel a little brighter.
Whether you’re looking for inspiration to spread your own cheer on Random Acts of Kindness day on February 17th — or just some good news to brighten your day — here are some examples of the best of humanity from 2020.
1. Oakland residents turned an abandoned lot into a sanctuary for homeless women.
In 2020, San Francisco resident Stefani Echeverria-Fenn noticed the fenced vacant lot she walked past on her way to work was an eyesore with no real purpose in the community. So she took action: With a city of support behind her, they added a solar shower, a vegetable garden, a communal kitchen, and camping toilets to create a sanctuary for homeless women. The grounds are maintained and kept clean by the homeless population in partnership with Echeverria-Fenn and other community members.
2. Hundreds of Americans became “foster families” to ailing senior veterans.
In the United States there are nearly 38,000 homeless veterans and over 82,000 living in nursing homes. A medical foster home is an alternative that allows veterans the care they need while preserving their dignity, and Americans have been rising to the occasion to let these heroes into their homes and hearts. “Many of our caregivers and vets become family,” Dayna Cooper, Director of Home and Community Care in the Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care for the US Department of Veterans Affairs, told Southern Living.
3. Coors Light gave donations up to $100 to 1,000 people to cover dog adoption fees.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Coors Light committed to covering the adoption fees for the first 1,000 new pet parents to send a picture of their furry friend to the company. Since many animal rescues rely on donations and volunteer work, Coors Light will not only make a difference in these pet owner’s lives, but the shelters as well.
4. Chef Andres turned Michelin-star restaurants into kitchens serving take-out food to anyone who needed it.
When COVID-19 caused millions of families to struggle to make ends meet, Chef Jose Andres stepped In March, Andres announced that his restaurants would close to the general public, but eight of his locations would continue to serve gourmet food to struggling families. They asked for a donation of $7 per to-go meal but those who could not afford to pay would be welcome as well.
5. Michael Jordan and his brand pledged $100 million to black communities over 10 years.
In June, Michael Jordan announced a $100 million donation to organizations dedicated to social justice, racial equality, and access to education. His nonprofit, the Jordan Wings Program, had historically donated to programs that helped offset systemic racism, but this new announcement came with the intention to also partner with the government and civic leaders to ensure that real change can happen.
6. The World Food Programme won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize
In the year prior, the World Food Programme helped close to 100 million people around the globe, and in October they were recognized for their efforts in reducing hunger and improving living conditions in war-torn areas. When the pandemic hit, the World Food Programme demonstrated the ability to scale quickly where help was needed.
7. A Florida man paid off past due bills for 114 families who were at risk of having their utilities shut off.
In December 2020, Michael Esmond donated $7,615.40 to pay the bills of 114 families who were about to lose their utilities during the holidays. Once unable to pay his own bills, Esmond now owns Gulf Breeze Pools and Spas and is committed to helping families when he can.
8. 800 California inmates gave their prison wages to send a kid they never met to college.
Recently, 800 inmates pitched in anywhere from $1 to $100 to help a kid realize his dreams. In three years, they raised $32,000. The family of the recipient had fallen on tough times. During his sophomore year of high school, his father had a heart transplant and his mother had an accident that left her blind. Both lost their jobs, and the possibility of college was out of reach. When he found out who funded his tuition, the now 19-year-old said he felt beyond grateful and plans on paying that kindness forward.
Remember, there’s goodness all around us, and if you’ve been itching to do a random act of kindness yourself, let this serve as inspiration: it doesn’t take much—just an idea and a little work. The world will thank you.