Spread the kindness: United Acts of Kindness Day is Nov. 9

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By Sarah Lindner, United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha & Pierce Counties

This summer, my family visited the Minnesota State Fair. As we walked through the midway, my 10-year-old daughter spotted a bright blue gorilla hanging from one of the prize booths. She just had to have it.

The carnival game appeared simple enough. Contestants squirt water at a target with a tiny hole in the center. The first person to fill it up and ring the bell at the top wins. She tried and tried and tried with no luck.

My 12-year-old son, however, turned out to be a natural at the game and won one stuffed animal after another — trading each one in for a bigger prize each time. When he noticed she didn't have one, he won one for her, too. What a kind big brother! It made her day, and it warmed my heart.

But the story doesn't end there. At the end of the afternoon, the kids still had a few tickets left. So we went back to play some more. This time, my daughter asked her uncle to help her aim. After a few attempts, they won another prize. Her blue gorilla now had a lime green pal. She was beaming.

On the stool next to them sat a young boy and his mom. They had played several times with no luck, and they were out of tickets. He cried as they walked away empty handed. My brother suggested she give the gorilla to him, and she did.

The mom was so thankful, and the boy was all smiles after that! And so was Mia.

That one small act of kindness put smiles on so many faces that day.

A bit later, my daughter tugged on my shirt. "Mom, remember when I gave that stuffed animal to the little boy? That made me happy." Me too, kid. Me, too.

We need more of that in this world. Everyone who was part of this story benefited from kindness — the giver, receiver and even the bystanders. We are all capable of being kind. It's a choice. Choose to hold open that door, share those cookies and offer to lend a hand. Something as simple as a smile can make a difference in someone's day. Kindness is contagious ... in a good way!

Kindness starts with me and you

Join United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha & Pierce Counties on Nov. 9 for United Acts of Kindness Day. Let's make the world a better place by spreading love and kindness. You could treat someone to coffee, help a neighbor with yard work, or simply lift someone up with your words. All day long, be intentionally kind to everyone you meet. The smiles on their faces (and yours) will be worth it.

Encourage someone with a kind word. On Nov. 9, you may pick up your Kindness Cards at Associated Bank, Hanisch Bakery, HOPE Coalition, Mandy's Coffee & Cafe, Merchants Bank, Red Wing Library, United Way and more. Limit three per person. Write a quick note on the back and give it to a friend, a neighbor, a coworker or a stranger.

Share your stories

We can't wait to hear all your kindness stories. What did you do to show kindness to others? How did others show kindness to you? Spread the love by using the hashtag #LIVEUNITEDMN on all of your social media posts that day. Not a social media guru? You can reach us through traditional channels too. Call 651-388-6309, email sarah.lindner@uw-gwp.org or stop in the office at 413 W. Third St., Red Wing.

This event is cosponsored by HOPE Coalition and Universal Music Center.