Okeechobee residents accept Christmas Challenge

OKEECHOBEE — Americans have always loved a challenge, and often it seems as though the challenges involve something dangerous or ridiculous. Take for example the Tide Pod Challenge, the Cinnamon Challenge, the Ghost Pepper Challenge, Car Surfing, Salt and Ice, the Ice Bucket Challenge, the KiKi Challenge or even many years ago the “how many goldfish can you swallow challenge.”

Right now there is a new challenge in town, and it is a kinder, gentler challenge — much more suited to the Christmas Season. This challenge is the Random Acts of Kindness Challenge. Many people do it every December. It involves doing something nice for a stranger for no reason at all and with no expectation of anything in return.

Some people do an act of kindness every day during the month of December, and some just do one occasionally. I asked several people for their stories about their random acts of kindness this year, and these are the responses I received. Because most of these acts were done anonymously, I am using first names only to help preserve their anonymity.

Pam and her husband Phil delivered decorated mini trees along with stockings filled with little treats to some shut-ins. They also chose two names off an Angel tree to buy gifts for.

Patti, who lives in N.Y., shoveled a neighbor’s driveway after the last snowstorm.

Christina secretly bought lunch for her police chief and his family at the local diner. She said his wife had just gone through her last round of chemo, and he puts his life on the line every time he puts on his uniform. It takes a whole family standing behind someone with cancer, and she wanted them to know someone cared.

Jamie, who lives in Nepal, gave a little boy a chocolate bar.

April bought groceries for a family in need.

Frieda paid for lunch for a carload of people behind her at McDonald’s and also put some extra money in the Salvation Army Kettle outside Michael’s.

Sarah went on her very first mission trip to an orphanage in another country even though she was scared.

Caroline works at Stages Theater in Houston in the winter time and said they sell British Sweets and Popcorn which she claims is the best popcorn in the world. She said everyone loves it. They sell it before the show and during intermission, and any leftovers are up for grabs to the workers, stage hands, actors, crew, etc. Caroline has been making an effort to see to it that the valets, who are outside during this very cold winter season get some of the popcorn while it is still warm and before everyone else grabs it all.

Ingrid works at a school cafeteria and keeps money in an account so that kids who normally would not ever be able to afford a special treat can have one once in a while. Usually this is used for foster children, who have their lunch paid for but never get the special treats that other children get. So every so often they get to hear the words, “someone is treating you to an ice cream today.”

Most challenges leave the participant either injured or feeling silly, but every one of the people who completed this challenge came away feeling better about themselves afterward.

Not one of them expressed regret for accepting the challenge. Won’t you consider accepting the challenge today? Ask yourself, “What can I do to help someone today? Who can I be kind to?” Chances are, you won’t regret it.

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