Warren Tidwell said he "started the Facebook page (26 Acts of Kindness ) as soon as I knew the enormity of the tragedy (at Sandy Hook)." He invited others to join him in doing random acts, and to share their stories.
Neither knew of the others' inspiration, but it was an idea whose time had come.
The original book, "Random Acts of Kindness," was considered a radical and innovative perspective when it was published two decades ago, but now it's become a part of the culture.
NBC contacted Tidwell, and when the "likes" on his Facebook page reached 1000, he happily handed it over to them to moderate. By Christmas Eve, less than two weeks after it was started, it had over 82,000 likes.
According to NBC News, Tidwell "posted a photo of his first act, giving a box of chocolates to an unknown woman at his local supermarket in Auburn, Alabama. Attached to the box was a note that read, "To honor the 26 taken from us at Sandy Hook we are doing 26 acts of kindness. You are #1.'
"He followed that act by giving a $10 gift card to hungry students at the deli, then picked out toys to give to the local firemen's Toys for Tots drive, and then prepared cookies to wrap and place on the windshields of first responders.
" 'I felt empowered, instead of the helplessness, hurt, and fear,' said Tidwell. 'I can put the good back in the world that was taken from it.' "
Others who posted on his Facebook pages noted that they gave gift cards or made baked goods to give their local fire and police departments. Some anonymously paid off Christmas layaways.
Random Act of Kindness
(Image by Written by a third grader, via Warren Tidwell's Facebook page) Details DMCA
I asked Tidwell if he could share a favorite story or two and he responded that there were many, but one that stood out was the woman who had budgeted $780 for a family vacation, and instead split it three ways as gifts for each of her three children's teachers.
And he shared, "I think the ones that touch me the most are the small thoughtful ones. You know, people taping a quarter to the gum ball machine for a little kid ... That one, for some reason, really got to me."
And Tidwell mentioned the lady who told him, "since my daughter's birth, we set aside money each month. I have a very low income as I'm a single stay-at-home mom of 5 kids, (two with disabilities) and we take that money and do simple things such as hand out flowers to residents and staff at nursing homes, hand out cheap little toys to kids in hospitals, hand out dollar bills to little kids being good in stores, etc."
I asked Tidwell, "What has happened as a result of the 26 Acts Facebook page that you started, that surprised you the most?"
He responded, "I think the fact it has actually come to match the original hope for it that I had in my head - meaning, I wanted to see kindness and goodwill everywhere to show there is far more goodness than evil in this world."