Last week I told you about the opportunity my family had to drive a GMC Terrain Denali around town and spend some of GMC’s money on random acts of kindness. The rules were loose: spread some happiness. But I wanted to include my young children and while buying someone’s coffee would certainly spread happiness, it wouldn’t resonate as much with my kids as would alleviating a small drop of the need they see all around us.
My kids want to give some money to every homeless person we see, every panhandler, every beggar whose path we cross. I struggle with creating the balance between the generosity I want to cultivate in them and the pragmatic hold I need to maintain on my wallet. We can help save the world, I always tell them, but we can’t save the whole thing. Still, they always ask if I have any dollars with me.
So when the opportunity was presented to me to spend of of GMC’s Random Acts of Kindness money around town, I immediately said yes and broke it into small bills. I told me kids the deal was this: we’d put one dollar in every collection box and Salvation Army bucket we saw, and five dollars in the hands of every person asking for money. We’d give at each chance we got without saying “no, sorry” even once until the money ran out.
We gave away all our money before our week with the Terrain ended. My kids enthusiastically rolled down windows and gave and gave. And then they looked for more opportunities. We broke our established rules to buy a bag of groceries to help end hunger, for example, which depleted our giving funds but gave us another kind of way to help.
And we used the Terrain to spread non-monetary kindness, too. I used its spacious interior to help a neighbor clear a fallen tree from his yard. We filled the trunk and loaded the backseat, as well.
And of course, we did a little joyriding, too. It’s not often that anything boasting a new-car smell parks in our driveway. All week my kids asked: are we taking the black car? Please can we take the black car?
It was so much fun to play benefactor this week with GMC’s Random Acts of Kindness money, and it was certainly a treat to drive a shiny new SUV for a bit, too. But the best part of the week was reinforcing my kids’ instinct toward generosity, and letting them have the chance to give and give and give as their little hearts understand justice and empathy and building their world into a better place. It’s the kind of sentiment we always hope to have on our minds as the year draws to an end, and this year I got to embody it fully.
Honestly clause: The GM Northeast Team loaned me the GMC Terrain Denali (with a full tank of gas) to drive for the week and provided the funds for my random acts of kindness. I was not compensated in any other manner, and the opinions about the car are completely my own.
When Robin isn’t at the wheel she’s at the keyboard, and you can find her at her own blog, The Not-Ever-Still Life, or on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.