America celebrates Random Acts of Kindness Week this week. The beauty of participating is that kindness doesn’t cost you one thin dime.

I was fortunate to spend time late last week with some pretty great kids at Sheffield’s Brookside Intermediate School. They ranged in ages from 8 to 12 or 13. They were celebrating Valentine’s Day with parties and fun activities in their classrooms with their classmates at the end of the day on Friday.

I asked a few what they like about Valentine’s Day. Their photos and responses are to be found elsewhere in this edition. I expected them to say “candy,” “cards,” “talking with friends,” “playing games” or “having fun.” All are perfectly appropriate answers given their ages and the setting. However, I also heard things like “caring,” “sharing,” “loving one another,” “spending time with my family.” The depth of those heartfelt, sincere answers melted my heart.

It also reminded me, as I literally ran from one thing to another all day Friday, I could still find a few seconds here or there to do something kind. So if we cross paths this week, don’t be surprised to see that I leave behind sticky notes containing positive messages — for the librarian who holds a book for me; the checkout clerk at Marc’s who always smiles, even when the lines are long; my awesome mail carrier; and so on.

Perhaps I can squeeze in time to bake a batch of cookies for older neighbors or the staff at the Sheffield VA; take time to sit and listen to someone who’s having a bad day; or pick up groceries for a friend suffering from the sniffles. The more I think about it, the more I realize it takes very little, but can mean so very much.

I hope you will join me. Not into sticky notes? What about sending a nice email or making a long-overdue phone call? I always like hearing about random acts of kindness — the pay-it-forward type like buying coffee or a sandwich for the person behind you at the drive-through window or plunking down a few dollars to pay for the groceries of a stranger. I’ve been known to drop “anonymous” presents on a porch, ring the bell and run like uh, heck, to keep from being discovered.

While we haven’t had much snow, it has been grey and that does affect some of us. It’s too soon to garden outside, but stores are carrying primrose and tulips. Their cheery colors can bring a smile.

I suspect you have your own ideas. I just hope you will take a little time this week to remember to be kind. Your smile and a “hello” can mean just as much as anything you might purchase and connects us to our deepest sense of what is good and kind, like those third- and fifth-graders were able to do so well.

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