It feels good to give. Sure, giving back should be an altruistic, selfless notion, but the truth is that giving back is good for both the giver and the recipient. Studies even prove that there are amazing benefits to giving, whether you are taking on a regular volunteer position, donating money, or simply doing a random act of kindness.

When I had gotten laid off in Arizona during the recession, I had nothing but time. Although I spent hours applying for work, I still had so much free time. I decided to go to St. Anne’s church annex building nearby which I had known was a sort of local food bank and ask if they needed any volunteers. Mind you, I am not Catholic. Guess what? They didn’t care. They were so excited to have an able body who could help prepare boxes of food that the local grocery stores had given us that day for the people in the area.

And so, it started, every Saturday I was there. My daughter, 12 at the time, started going with me. I started helping on Wednesday’s too. And before long, without them asking once for more days of help, I was there 6 days a week. It gave me a purpose. They counted on me. I met so many friends who were also volunteers. To this day, they are still some of my closest friends. I finally did get employment and had to go back to only Saturday work. And then moved back to Oregon.

So, while I was struggling this past weekend flying from Oregon back to California trying to pull two suitcases, my backpack and purse, this very kind woman asked if I needed help. Looking up and expecting to see an airline employee, I was shocked that this was just a very kind woman in her 50’s that was offering to help me. After accepting her help, I was for once in my life, tongue tied on how to thank her. So, upon arriving at the ticket counter, I hugged her and thanked her for her kindness.

I know people in Oregon are very kind, helpful and caring. Therefore, I love my state. I miss volunteering and helping people. Until the time comes when I can make the time to do so, I will be focused on random acts of kindness, paying it forward. That kind woman reminded me what I great feeling it is to be on the receiving end of kindness.  I encourage everyone to do this, not because it is the holiday season, but because it is the “right” thing to do.