Nicole Phillips, Published November 18 2011
Kindness is contagious: Nuns, children find kindness in Fargo
I haven’t figured it all out, but it seems that the best way to repay people for stepping out of their comfort zones and helping others is to show them that their actions matter.
People don’t necessarily do things just to hear how wonderful they are, but it sure doesn’t hurt to get a pat on the back once in a while.
Recently, I received an email from Sister Mary in Fargo that got me thinking again about the two concepts, kindness and gratefulness, and how closely they are intertwined. The letter read:
I read your article on Kindness in the SheSays section of Saturday’s Fargo Forum. It inspired me to write about a Random Act of Kindness that was shown to me last year. I was shopping at the southside Kmart. After purchasing my commodities I went to the check-out counter. A young man waited on me. When I came to pay my bill I realized that I didn’t have enough money. I was short about $2.50. I said to the clerk ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t have enough money with me, take back the hand lotion.’ He said ‘Are you sure?’ I said ‘Yes.’ But instead of taking it back, he took his own credit card from his pocket and scanned in the difference.
When I got home I wrote a letter to the manager of Kmart explaining what this kind young man had done for me. I said that it isn’t everyday that you meet such kindness. He was really living the Spirit of the Season, it was close to Christmas. I had the young man’s name from the invoice, so I was able to mention his name.
A few weeks later I was again at Kmart. I saw the young man at another counter. I asked him if his manager had read the letter to him. He said ‘No, but he put it on the bulletin board and I am going to make a copy of it and take it home and frame it.’ Kindness is contagious!”
The fact that Mary was grateful enough to write a letter to the clerk’s manager ended up being an act of kindness in itself. Think of how incredibly proud that man felt when he saw the letter hanging on the bulletin board.
My kids go to school at Longfellow Elementary, home of the Longfellow Lions. The school has a new program in place this year aimed at changing children’s behavior through positive reinforcement. Each time a teacher “catches” a child being kind or doing something respectful, the teacher sends a note to the principal. The principal then gets to call the child’s parents and report a “Roar of Approval.”
You cannot even imagine the pride on a child’s face when he or she is caught being good. Kids suddenly want to behave, want to be kind to others, and believe they can excel. One sheet of paper and one phone call home and kids are magically transformed into Purveyors of Kindness. But it doesn’t just stop in childhood. I think all of us want to hear that what we have done has made a difference, and just like kindness, being grateful can be contagious, too.
Continue to share your random acts of kindness stories at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.
Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.