• Julie Fitz-Gerald

REFUELLING YOUR SOUL THROUGH VOLUNTEERING AND RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS

A giving heart – there is truly no better gift. Taking time out of your busy schedule to put the needs of someone else above your own; extending your hand; brightening someone’s dark day. When we reach out to others something in our own heart is changed in the process. It may be in a small way, but sometimes it can be on a much larger scale.


I’ve been fortunate to be on the receiving end of beautiful, giving hearts. When unemployment struck my family or an illness knocked me down, those wonderful spirits came knocking at my door bearing gifts of kindness to ease the strain of the situation. Always humble, these friends downplayed each act of giving, but I wonder if they know how incredibly huge it was to my family and I in that moment, on that day, and even now as I look back.


We never know how an act of kindness will impact a person. It will brighten their day for sure, but it can also cause a ripple effect – a chain of kind gestures multiplying from one person to the next. Maybe you help a stranger who’s struggling with their bags at the grocery store or you pay for a person’s coffee in the drive-thru line. Perhaps it’s on a larger scale than that. By reaching out with joyful hearts, that joy is often passed on and the recipients continue paying the kindness forward as they interact with others throughout their day.


I was fortunate to witness Living Water host the soup luncheon benefitting the Uxbridge Loaves and Fishes food bank. I expected there would be a few soups and some tables and chairs set up. What I walked into was something much more elaborate. There were enough tables to seat 50 people. They were beautifully set with table cloths, napkins and baskets brimming with hearty bread. Vibrantly painted china mugs lined the dessert table, the smell of freshly brewed coffee filled the room and the kitchen was bustling with volunteers of all ages, from teenagers to retirees. In addition to homemade soups and chili, our church members assembled bruschetta, tortilla dips, an apple-cream cheese-toffee concoction and a number of pies that had attendees raving about the menu.


The second time I attended the soup luncheon, those who came to eat remembered us well. “You’re back!” one lady exclaimed, her eyes twinkling with excitement. “You put on a lovely lunch. I’ve been thinking about those apple and cream cheese desserts ever since the last time you were here!”


Our giving hearts had made an impression. As I served bruschetta to each person at the crowded tables, one after the other thanked me for the effort our church was putting forth, for going beyond what was expected and making it a memorable day. It mattered to them. As the crock pots grew bare and the gymnasium emptied out, my heart swelled.


Volunteering for the benefit of the food bank was actually food for my soul. And it inspired me to do more – to volunteer with other organizations that give a hand up to those who need it most. It’s something I’ve been following through on. My heart was changed, proving that the gift of giving can be as impactful to the giver as it is to the receiver.


Our society today is so focussed on the individual that we must remind ourselves to take a moment and look outwards to those around us. To see a need that we can meet and then take the time to actually meet it. It’s about human connection, recognizing that we’re the same in many ways despite our differences. Love, compassion and friendship can alter a person’s day and sometimes even their life. It’s how Jesus lived; and it’s how we should live too. So let’s set our phones and tablets down and do something nice for a stranger today. Let your kindness unfold, like a stone skipping across still water, rippling outwards from each jump for an even greater impact.


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© 2017 JULIE FITZ-GERALD

Uxbridge, ON | E-mail: jfitz-gerald@sympatico.ca