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upworthy

random acts of kindness

@inspiringbelfast/TikTok

Maybe this dose of wholesome humanity brighten your day.

Imagine walking down the street, minding your own business, when a complete stranger unfurls a red carpet at your feet. What do you do? Awkwardly avoid it and continue along your route? Tell the person off for not respecting boundaries? Or do you wholeheartedly accept the impromptu invitation and strut your best stuff?

For the passersby of Belfast, option three was the only choice.

Alan Wallace, who routinely posts uplifting videos that “share the warmth” of his hometown over on TikTok, recently added a video of himself going up to random folks on the street and giving them a moment to shine. And let’s just say, they nailed it.


Folks from all walks of life—including a construction worker that could be Michael Sheen’s doppelgänger—lit up at the opportunity to catwalk, skateboard, cartwheel and even do the worm down the crimson strip.

In a mere matter of seconds, we see all that humanity has to offer—humor, free expression, joy, inclusivity, connection. Such powerful stuff shown in the simplest way.

Even if the moment wasn’t quite as spontaneous as the video makes it appear (Wallace likely asked for permission before rolling the carpet out each time) these people still agreed to play. And that’s what’s magical about it.

“Everyone understood the assignment, from young to old, it was perfect,” one viewer wrote.

@inspiringbelfast Red carpet for strangers in Belfast #inspiringbelfast #belfastcity #belfast #heartwarming ♬ Beautiful Things (Sped Up) - Benson Boone

It’s natural for most people to not want to interact with strangers. And of course there are legitimate safety reasons influencing this instinct. But a lot of the time our avoidance comes from expecting things to be unenjoyable. And yet, research shows not only that people are often pleasantly surprised by how much connection, kindness, belonging and optimism they end up experiencing.

So maybe we don’t need a red carpet to simply enjoy saying hi to someone we meet on the street and reaping the benefits. But hey, it certainly helps.

Courtesy of Kevin Cate

Man gives away $13,000.

Usually, seeing "Florida" and "man" in a headline makes me take a deep breath in preparation for some sort of shenanigans. The short phrase has become synonymous with outlandish antics, but this is a Florida man story everyone can get behind. Kevin Cate, a former campaign spokesperson for President Barack Obama and owner of CATECOMM, a media consulting company, caught a random act of kindness by a Florida man while dining at a Waffle House in Midway, in the northern part of the state.


Cate watched as an anonymous man attached money to small handmade notes. Eventually, curiosity got the better of Cate and he asked the man what he was up to. Turns out the elderly gentleman had been spending his time passing out $1 and $5 to strangers at the restaurant and other places. According to Cate, who documented the interaction on Twitter, each note said “Love Every Body,” in bold text. Turns out those words were the last thing the generous stranger’s mother said to him before she passed away.

“She didn’t say ‘I love you.’ She said ‘Love everybody.’ So that’s what I’m doing,” the man said, according to Cate. That’s one powerful moment that clearly stuck with the man. Cate wrote that since 2014, the mysterious donor has given away more than $13,000 to strangers and preps to give away his money by printing and cutting out the notes every few days.

What a sweet way for the man to honor his mother’s memory. Surely there are people who receive his gift just when they need it the most, and for the others it likely brings a smile to their faces. Since Cate shared the encounter with his Twitter followers, the man spreading kindness is spreading hope on social media.

Twitter

One commenter, Tiffany wrote, “I just needed to tell you thank you for posting this. Ever since my sister was killed in the Boise mall shooting, it feels as though a snow ball effect has taken all of the light from the world. This thread helped me remember the lights still there.”

Twitter

Another commenter, Doug, pointed out, “While we might not know this from Twitter or the news, trust me when I say there are far more good people out there than bad. They just don't make the news. It's really nice to be reminded.”

I’m pretty sure Doug is onto something. Media rarely focuses on the good in the world, and the constant barrage of bad news can make you forget that good still happens. And not just occasionally. Good things happen daily, multiple times a day in large and small ways. It’s unfortunate that we don’t bolster all the kindness around us to balance things out, but it’s clear this Florida man's acts of kindness are restoring some of our faith in humanity.

Hopefully being a witness to or reading about someone else’s kind deeds will inspire others to follow suit in their own ways.

In a time when we've watched people fight over toilet paper, argue over mask-wearing and storm government buildings with firearms, a nice random act of kindness story is always appreciated. And when that random act of kindness happens to someone who is famous-adjacent, the impact somehow seems all the more pure.

Actor Nathan Fillion, best known for his starring roles in the TV series Firefly (and subsequent movie, Serenity) and Castle, shared one such story on Facebook this week—and people are loving it.

He wrote:


"The other day in Canada, a woman buying gas at a Costco had trouble with her credit card. The attendant bought her gas out of his own pocket and asked only that she pay it forward. That Costco was in Edmonton, that attendant was Les Thompson, and Les? That woman was my mother. You restore my faith in humanity, sir. My dad and I are sending three iPads and headphones to a nearby senior care facility so that folks there can visit with their families. Right now, we could all stand to be less afraid, and a little more Les. (Canada, Costco, Les, iPads, and my mom not pictured.)"


Fillion's post has been shared nearly 30,000 times, and commenters have expressed their gratitude for highlighting the fact that there are lots of good people out there. Some said they were proud to be Canadian. (Canada is well known for the general kindness of its people.) Others said the story reminded them that hope is not lost, even in the face of fairly constant bad news. Some inquired as to whether or not Fillion was married. (He's not.) But most simply thanked him for sharing a seemingly small, but oh-so-meaningful story about the power of a simple, selfless act of generosity.

Well done, Les from Costco. Well done, Fillion family. Thanks for giving us the boost of faith in humanity we need right now.

Sometimes humans strangers pull together for no reason other than to simply bring joy to another human.

That's what happened when Upworthy shared a request we'd been sent by a reader whose grandmother had fractured a vertebrae. Leslie Agan contacted Upworthy saying that her 90-year-old Grandma Florence needed a little pick-me-up. She had fallen on Christmas morning and fractured a vertebrae in her neck, and was "feeling depressed in rehab after being told she won't be able to go home for several months."


"She is 'all there' mentally, and just celebrated her 90th birthday last May," wrote Agan. "Would it be possible to invite your followers to send her a card/note wishing her a speedy recovery?"

"She is an amazing woman who has a wonderful sense of humor," she added, "is very personable and sweet, but is having a hard year so far."

We felt for Grandma Florence and invited our Instagram followers to help her out.

And help her out they did.

People from all over the world began responding to the Instagram post, saying that they were putting a letter in the mailbox for Florence. Even actress Jennifer Garner responded with a heart and a checkmark.

Grandma Florence has received more than 1,500 cards so far, and they keep on coming. "She has been genuinely overwhelmed and overcome with emotion," Agan says. "She says she wishes she could hug and thank every person who has sent her something. She was feeling so depressed and now she says, 'To receive cards every day - it feels like Christmas! I can't thank everyone enough.'"

Grandma Florence is determined to read every card she gets immediately—but it's not just cards she's received. A reader from Australia sent her a stuffed koala, a couple from New York sent her a Harry Potter book and a picture of their baby, and she even got a card from "Bob the Dog" in England.

She also received handmade notes from an entire classroom of kids. "My grandma cried when she read all of the beautifully hand signed and drawn cards from Classroom 10," says Agan. "Those might've been a favorite."

Agan's mother, Liberta (Florence's daughter who has been helping her with rehab) says, "One thing I've noticed is that people don't just sign the card, they always write a paragraph or two. It's very sweet what these people are doing."

When Upworthy fans are called to show kindness, we're not surprised that they show up in droves and go the extra mile. Taking immediate action to help out a fellow human who is struggling is the most Upworthy thing there is.

"The world is full of negativity, and this outpouring of love reminds me that there really are others who are willing to help someone who is struggling," says Agan. "At the same time, my heart goes out to the elderly that are just left alone in these facilities, forgotten and alone. We really need to let loved ones know that we care, no matter their situation. I'm so thankful that Upworthy has provided the platform to bring my grandma this kind of joy and hope."

And we're so thankful you gave us the opportunity to help.