Alyssa Leibman of Myrtle Beach wants to spend the holiday season spreading Christmas cheer in a unique way.
You and I should join her.
Others in the area, and around the globe, already have.
Leibman launched a “Random Acts of Christmas” Facebook page to encourage people to find simple ways to, well, commit random acts of kindness, at least one per day between now and Christmas. (Her page can be found here: facebook.com/events/288472267922593).
It’s her personal spin on an old holiday tradition but has little to do with turtle doves.
“My grandparents were Holocaust survivors and instead of being bitter they raised my father and his siblings to put the needs of others before yourself and to recognize our moral obligation to advocate for others, even if it isn’t the popular choice,” she said. “My parents raised me to see the good in people, to respond to everyone in kindness and to believe that everyone has a natural capacity for generosity.”
She’s already heard from fellow graduates of Myrtle Beach High School and the College of Charleston, as well as friends and family. They are challenging each other to complete the 12 random acts.
“It started out after I was talking with friends about gifts for each other this year,” Leibman said. “With the economy and our tuition rates, we realized that we really couldn’t budget for gifts. I thought this might be a way to show our appreciation for each other and help other along the way. My old college roommate, skipping down King Street in Charleston, was putting dimes in all the parking meters. Another friend dropped off cookies to her local police department. One sent about 20 soldiers a long and grateful Christmas card.”
Leibman offered to edit and review the final term papers for foreign students. On Thursday, she planned to drop off desserts to local fire and police stations. Next week she plans to visit an English as second language class at Myrtle Beach high and help with a service project.
“When you study political science on the graduate level, they’ll try to convince you that everyone lives their life in a state of competition,” Leibman said. “They’ll often quote Hobbes and agree that by nature, man’s life ‘is nasty, brutish, and short.’ I was never of that school of thought and I’m pretty sure I never will be.”
Samantha Shaw, a transplant and married mother of 2 boys from Pennsylvania, has taken up the same mantle, turning the “it is better to give than receive” biblical edict into reality.
“I know a family that is struggling to provide gifts for their children after losing a lot of their monthly income. I went home one night and went looking online to try and find ways to help them,” Shaw said. “I called all the organizations that provide toys only to find out they have deadlines. While looking for things I came across Random Acts of Christmas Kindness and loved the idea.
“The project for me and my son is going great,” she said. “We enjoy making, buying and giving things each day to random people or people we know. We all need to bless a random person or someone who is a blessing to us as often as we can, not just at Christmas time.”
On Wednesday night, they baked cookies and gave “them out to the people in our lives that we don’t say thanks to enough.”
She wants the idea to spread around the Myrtle Beach area like a virus. It already has around the world. On another Facebook page, a man from Australia said he helped pay for a woman’s petrol while they were in line together.
Shaw’s Facebook page – facebook.com/MyrtleBeachRACKd – includes these suggestions:
• Buy a gift certificate from a restaurant, put it in an envelope and leave it in a shopping cart, church pew, sales counter or anywhere it is likely to be opened and noticed
• Pay for the food of the person in car in the drive-through behind you
• Triple the size of your tip and tell the waitress “Merry Christmas”
• Buy a present for your neighbor’s dog
• Take a pizza or batch of cookies to the nearest police department, firehouse, radio station, nursing home or hospital, or anywhere people work on Christmas day
Make up your own list.
Rub your wife’s feet before she asks. Apologize to that cousin you’ve been avoiding. Accept the apology of a friend in a strained-relationship.
Be kind when someone else is mean.
Let a co-worker go home an hour early by finishing up her work for the day.
Hug that stranger who seems as though he hasn’t had one in a decade.
The best thing about the idea is that the task can be completed without spending a dime, or just a few.
I haven’t heard of a better way to illustrate the reason for the season: selflessly helping others.