Week Seven: Random Acts of Kindness Weak (Week….)

Project: Love Letters for the Elderly and Random Acts of Kindness Week

Actual Time Taken: 35 minutes

Blast. Missed my weekly hour goal again. But at least that “A” for effort is there, right??

I finally finished up the Love Letters for the elderly program by dropping off our 300+ Valentines Day cards to the Meals on Wheels of Honolulu. (The entire campaign raised over 100,000 cards nationwide, which is nothing short of amazing!) I’m happy to report that they were completely taken aback by the volume of cards and were extremely appreciative. It felt so good to drop them off to the office and see the surprise on their faces at the sheer number of construction paper hearts.

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“Hearts” and crafts. Ha!

Also, Facebook, where I (sadly) ingest most of my breaking social news, informed me that it was Random Acts of Kindness Week. Feeling a bit lazy after such a concentrated effort on the Love Letters project for so many weeks, I decided to make this the focus of my hour of volunteering for the week.

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Random Acts of Kindness RAKS… apparently.

To kick off Random Act of Kindness (or RAK, as the graphic above calls it) week, I pulled out the ‘big guns,’ and bought a $10 Jamba Juice card (after purchasing my own Strawberry Raspberry Banana with energy booster, natch). I instructed the slightly confused cashier to give it to the next customer who came into the store. I was lucky enough to see this person come in as I waited for my order to be filled, and smiled quietly to myself into my matcha green tea shot as the woman receiving the card reacted with surprise and delight. She covered her mouth in shock and kept saying “No way, no way!

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My friend Hero and I downing our matcha green tea shots with our brave faces on…

Yes way, lady. It’s the power of the RAK.

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Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness. #6 is something weird like “try a new fruit,”

so I guess that falls under being kind to your… body?

The next day, I brought sushi to a friend at work (Ok, not so random… but still kindright?) because I know she loves it and it absolutely made her smile. Wednesday, I went on a scuba diving trip and ended up giving a ride to some people on the trip who I had just met but who were stranded at the dive shop, but that really felt like something I would do any given day, so I’m not sure how much that ‘counted.’ (Also, I’m not sure if I know who’s actually ‘counting,’ either. So there’s that…)

Thursday night, while grocery shopping with my boyfriend, I realized I hadn’t done a RAK Act (as I’ve now coined it, ahem…) for the day, so at the checkout register I bought the Kit Kats on sale, 4 for $3 (what a steal!) and gave one to the cashier, one to the person behind us in line, one to my boyfriend, and one to myself. (It’s kinda like the list says about trying new fruit, except I’m being nice to my tongue and not necessarily my body…)

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So this article came out yesterday. Timely! (And strange, what’s a Chicken Dinner candy bar?!)

Friday I fell behind and had planned to make up for it over the weekend, by doing lots of extra ‘acts,’ but by Saturday morning I found myself in the hospital, doped up on morphine for the first (and hopefully last) time of my life.

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Oh don’ t you worry. I checked in at the hospital on Facebook. Natch.

A little personal medical history: four years ago I herniated a disk in my neck. This is one of the many party gifts that a career in dance leaves you with- numerous, random, and sometimes serious injuries you get to nurse into your twilight years. Anywho, Friday night I felt something strange in my neck while I was dancing on stage, but ignored it, as we dancers are used to ignoring most pain… that is, until you can’t anymore. That moment came for me sometime around 6 am on Saturday morning, when I woke up in a full neck spasm and unable to move whatsoever.

Long story short, a trip to the ER and a litany of drugs knocked me out for the rest of the week, thereby stealing my chances to continue my RAK week (yes, lame excuse, going to the hospital. I know…) but I think I’ll try to sneak a few acts in this week (I think I’m about three behind?) to finish out my RAK week strong! (My neck, on the other hand, will be taking it nice and eeeeasy…)

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Week Six: Finishing up and starting a(new)

Project: Love Letters for the Elderly and Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind

Actual Time Taken: 30 minutes

 This week I made two realizations. One- I’m not technically behind on blogs. I can’t very well write about what I’ve done during the week before it’s over, now can I? So now I’m writing in retrospect– such as this week- since it’s currently Week 7,  I’ll write about Week 6. So now I won’t be so hard on myself for being ‘behind‘ anymore. (See my resolutions post on being nicer to myself in 2014)

Secondly, I realized that without proper motivation (i.e. money) I probably wouldn’t get close to the goal of 500 Valentines Day cards for the senior citizens with Meals on Wheels program in the greater Honolulu area. So after posting posters to entice my 100+ person cast to help out with the cause, I upped my ante (literally) and offered a reward for the most cards made and a random raffle that everyone who made a card would be entered into.

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Apparently, that did the trick.

By the end of the week, we were pushing 250 cards, and more were being made daily. On Sunday, our little cubs counted up the cards and found out that our grand total was 330 cards! Amazing!!!

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Unfortunately, making the incentive posters only took about 15 minutes, and I was feeling a bit run down, so I didn’t take too much time to make more cards. (I told you I would be honest about falling short of my hour goal every week!) To try make up for that lost time, I started on my next project, which is for the Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind.

This is a program I signed up for years ago when I was touring in the north east, but never got a chance to actually volunteer for them. They offer many services, such as interpreting for and reading to the blind. I randomly received an email newsletter a few weeks ago and realized it was perfect for this my mission this year!

I wrote to them about possibly helping out while I’m traveling and they wrote back with the perfect project for me. I will order a book (or get it from the library) that they choose and transcribe it into a Word document. It’s usually a children’s book, so it’s not too lengthy. After I send them the book in Word format, they feed it though a program that will turn it into braille form.

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So I guess I’ll be reading/typing this book for a few weeks…

I ordered the book off of Amazon (another 15 minutes worth of work) and expected it to come early next week. We’ll see how fast Two Day service can get to Hawaii…

I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t make my whole hour of service this week, but I am simply going to use that as motivation for next week. After all….

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Week Four: Wash and Repeat

Project: Love Letters for the Elderly

Actual Time Taken: 45 Minutes

This week I was really torn.

My original goal with this blog was to give an hour a week to charity.

But the rules are fuzzy.

Do I need to give exactly an hour every week? Do I need to find a different charity every week? Do I need to stop making up rules to my own charity blog?

The Answers are: No, No, and Yes.

I had committed to making cards for home-bound seniors through the Letters of Love campaign from www.dosomething.org. I took about an hour last week to make them with the help of our young cubs on our tour. We made about 35 cards and I was feeling pretty good about this number, until I went to drop them off at the local Meals on Wheels location.

I met the local representative, who was very sweet and completely thrilled by the unexpected cards. Smiling, she happily informed me that they will do wonders for the 500 people they deliver meals to every week.

That’s 35 cards. For 500 people.

We have some work to do….

So I decided to dedicate this week’s hour, and every other week’s hour needed to make at least 500 cards for everyone to which they deliver.  Ultimately, I decided that it’s ok that this week’s hour is going to the same charity, since the goal of this project is to experience what it feels like to carve out an hour every week to give to a worthy cause, and not just to find 52 different short term volunteer efforts.

And this week, it feels right to give another hour to the very worthy cause of bringing a smile to a Hawaiian home-bound senior’s face for Valentines Day.

Week Three: Child labor for the Elderly?

Project: Love Letters for the Elderly

Actual Time Taken: One Hour

This week, my volunteering hour is relying on child labor.

Well, sorta.

See, I found myself running out of time in my first week here in Hawaii. It’s our opening six days at the Neil Blaisdell Center in downtown Honolulu and we have nine shows to perform, counting the dress rehearsal. Not that I have anything to complain about, working in paradise and all, but the usual “first-week-in-a-city” errands and my lack of housing were eating up all of my free time this week.

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The “errands” in this city included TWO separate blessing ceremonies. *bliss*

So I scoured the interwebs on Friday for a volunteering project I could do from my computer while sitting backstage between scenes. (We have four shows between Saturday and Sunday, so essentially I spend all weekend on or off stage in the theater.)

I found some good leads, but the one that both piqued my interest and was time sensitive was the Letters of Love campaign from a website called www.dosomething.org.

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This project focuses on making Valentines Day cards for elderly people in need. The website directs you to create three or more anonymous Valentines Day cards and send them to your local Meals on Wheels location. The cards should include three facts about yourself such as what your hobbies include, (so I would say dance) what your dream job is, (my current one, dancing in the Lion King! Easy! But for anonymity’s sake, I said hosting a show on TV, another dream of mine!) and what state your from (hard for me to answer right now, since I’m on tour full time…. So I just said Florida, where I grew up).

I was planning out what I wanted my cards to say when the thought occurred to me that we have kids sitting backstage during the show that need fun things to do too, so I approached our cubs (our young Nala and Simba actors) for some help. We have two sets of cubs, and they alternate every other show. So while one set of cubs is performing, the other sits backstage during the first act just in case something happens and they need to take their counterparts place on stage.

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Nya and Jordan helping with the cause!

Since I’m busy performing the majority of the show, I dropped some craft supplies off in the kids’ dressing room at the top of the show on Saturday and joined them during our 15-minute intermissions to make cards. During the rest of the show, while I was changing in and out of costumes, they continued to happily craft away without me.

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Nate and Zyasia helped out in costume too!

By Sunday night, the kids were so into it that one of them had created a chart to document how many they had made. They had a lofty goal of 165, and although they were determined, we topped out at 35 and called it a weekend. They were so excited by the project, however, that they were disappointed when I said I had to send them in this week to make sure that the program received them in time to distribute them all. However, to me, this simply means that I have their interest for other projects, like sending letters to service men, or doing my laundry. 

Ooook, maybe not my laundry….

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Success!