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Acts of kindness ... one by one by one

PRINCETON — For many people, birthdays are all about getting gifts, but for Pat Polson, her birthday has been about giving gifts.

The Princeton woman is celebrating her 75th birthday by doing 75 random acts of kindness for family and friends, neighbors, community members, strangers. She began her acts of kindness mission in mid-April and has about 10 more acts to go.

Polson said she came up with the idea about six months ago after reading a magazine article about a woman who had done a similar thing in celebration of her birthday. Polson, who turned 75 years old on May 1, decided to start her mission in mid-April and to give herself one month to complete her 75 random acts of kindness. After all, 75 is a big number, she said.

The Princeton woman prepared for her mission by jotting down a list of ideas for the random acts of kindness on a sheet of paper. She has kept adding to the ideas list until it is now more than three pages long. It’s been great coming up with the ideas and watching the list grow, she said.

As she thumbed her way through her ideas list, Polson talked about what fun it’s been to do the random acts of kindness, like the time she took plastic bags each filled with eight quarters to give out to people at a local laundromat. Or, there was the time she paid a late fine for someone at the Princeton Public Library. She’s given out packages of gum at her grandson’s ballgame and left bigger than usual tips for waitresses.

Since she has a lot of flowers in her yard, Polson has taken flowers to a doctor’s office, to a neighbor she doesn’t see very often, to the friends in her prayer group, and to the office at Perry Memorial Hospital where her granddaughter works. She has taken fruit to the Princeton Police Station and written letters of appreciation to city leaders. One time, she bought a book of stamps, divided those stamps into groups of four, and gave them to people coming into the post office.

The list continues. She’s prayed for more people than normal, written letters to her grandchildren, fixed food for others, and made donations to local agencies and groups. She’s even put out nesting materials for the birds to use in her yard.

Polson said she has tried to be creative and to do things which she wouldn’t normally do, to go above and beyond in giving to others. Some random acts of kindness have cost a little bit of money, but others haven’t.

With more than 60 random acts of kindness already completed since April, Polson said her project has reinforced something she already knew about people.

“It doesn’t take much to make others and yourself happy sometimes,” Polson said.

As she does her random acts of kindness, Polson also gives the person a small card, made by her daughter, telling about how Polson was celebrating her birthday by doing random acts of kindness. The card goes on to say “I hope you enjoy it, and pass it on.”

And that, the “passing it on,” could be a random act of kindness given back to Polson.

In sharing her story publicly, Polson said she doesn’t want to draw attention to herself, but rather to maybe encourage someone else to start their own random acts of kindness mission. And they don’t have to wait until their 75th birthday to start, she said.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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