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Random Acts of Kindness – Ask: How Can I Help?

The other day I was picking up trash on my morning walk, as I went to throw it in the dumpster I noticed a man in a wheel chair nearby.  I didn’t want to scare him with the crash of the dumpster lid, so I said “Good morning.”  He looked up and replied, “Not for me.”  He explained that he had just broken the seat of his wheelchair.  As I looked closer I could see that he was balancing precariously, and I noticed that he was missing a foot.  I asked, “How can I help?” He had me call his ride dispatch to see when they were coming.  He was on his way to the warming shelter at a local church.

As I walked away, I was trying to think of creative ways to fix the seat of his chair.  Then it came to me, I could see if I could find a wheelchair.  I called the dispatch, to find out where they usually take him.  I explained the story, I am just a local citizen, out on a walk.  I am inspired to help.  They gave me the phone number for his social worker.  I called him and shared the story.  The social worker explained that this transient had gone through 5 wheelchairs last year–often they are not sturdy enough for his size.  This explains why the seat fell through…

I found a post on craigslist, for an extra-large, extra-capacity wheelchair for $125, and made arrangements to meet the seller.  I shared that I was getting it for a homeless amputee that I had just met.  The seller and I arranged to meet in Seattle, after I got off work the following day. The next afternoon, when I gave her my ETA, she told me she was on her way to me.  Curious, but, O.K.  I met her just thirty minutes away, instead of me driving over an hour each way.  When we met she explained that she was a retired nurse, and she loved my story of helping a homeless man, so she decided to get in the car to deliver the wheelchair closer to me, AND  then she discounted the price by $40!  She also refused my offer to pay her bridge toll to drive back across the Narrows Bridge. She explained that these were the ways that she could help.

I loaded the wheelchair into my Subaru and called the social worker, to tell him I had the chair.  He shared the places this man is known to frequent, the 7-11, Library, and the warming shelter.  I also called the dispatch company, and let them know I had the chair, in case they talk to him.  When I got to the warming shelter, they were closed.  As I went home with the wheelchair in the back of my car I was reminded that there are times when the Universe is conspiring on your behalf–even when you are unaware of what is going on behind the scenes.  This homeless man has not idea that there is a new wheelchair on its way to him.

The next day I delivered the chair to the warming shelter, and shared the story again. They called the other church to let them know they had a chair for Thomas (not his real name).  I texted the case worker, and left word again with the dispatch.  The chair is waiting for him at the church.

One of the volunteers helping me, said, “But, now he’ll have two chairs.”  I explained that the chair he has can be repaired and given to someone else who might need it.

As I drove home I wondered to myself… “How great would it be to practice regular random acts of kindness–maybe once a month?!”  Let’s see if we can do more good and share more good.

The Moral of the Story:  Practice Random Acts of Kindness.  And let’s share more stories of random acts of kindness. It inspires a ripple effect. Just ask yourself: “Who needs to be served?”  “How can I help?”

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