How I spent my 30th Birthday (30 Random Acts of Kindness!)

A few weeks ago, it finally hit me – I was REALLY about to turn 30! What the heck happened to my 20’s?! Where did they go?! LOL I kept thinking about how I am getting older and how so much has happened in this last decade that it makes me wonder what will happen over the next decade. I wanted to do something special to commemorate my 30th birthday though…something unique, something that I’ll never forget. I asked my friends on facebook what they did for their 30th birthday and several of them said “cry” (lol) but another group of people said that they took trips, had fun with friends and family or did something meaningful or special. I decided that night that I’d much rather be in the group of people that did something meaningful for their birthday and if I was going to cry, it would only be happy tears that day. 😉

So I set out to do something that I had read about a few months ago on another favorite blog of mine, Mix Mingle and Glow. This amazing woman decided that she was going to do 1 random act of kindness for each year that she had the privilege of living in her life. I thought that was an excellent idea! The world needs a little more kindness, you know? So I decided that some of my “random acts” would truly be random, and others would be planned out a bit more…I mean, afterall, I had 30 to do in one day! (Imagine when I’m 60!) 😉 I decided that many of the people who received my random acts of kindness would be my friends, family & clients since they mean so much to me, some acts would be big and others would be small, but they would make someone’s day nonetheless.

Throughout the day, I took photos on my iPhone and on my real camera (I know you’ll be able to tell the difference here so don’t judge, k?) and I updated facebook constantly. All 2,000+ of my friends were tuned in to see what the next awesome thing would be and it became highly interactive, I loved it! The cool thing is that I also asked each of them to do a random act of kindness in honor of my birthday that day and many of them did…kind of a “pay it forward” thing. I wanted to blog all about my 30th birthday though because it was so incredibly awesome, it was definitely one of the best days of my entire life. I think that when you take the focus off of yourself and off of what could potentially be viewed upon as a negative (like getting older!) and turn your attention to helping other people and making their day, it really changes your entire perspective and point of view. I actually had way more fun watching other people’s reactions all day and making so many memorable experiences that I’ll never forget. I truly believe that if you put good stuff “out there” it’ll definitely return to you. 🙂

So without further adieu, I give you “the list”…

Random Act of Kindness #1 = Do something fun and memorable for my husband! I sent John on a fun scavenger hunt throughout our house to find my list of date night plans for the upcoming weekend. There was 1 clue for each year that we’ve been together. (10 total) I planned out an entire day full of fun things that he and I both enjoy doing together but we don’t always have the time to do. He totally loved it! 🙂 (Pics from those festivities coming in another blog post later!)

Random Act of Kindness #2 = Sent a card to an old friend, just because. She was so touched that I had thought to send her a card without it being a holiday, birthday, etc. 🙂 I took this pic of her and her new baby the last time she was in town…we’ve been BFFs for over 10 years now!

Random Act of Kindness #3 = Donated to a Greyhound rescue group in honor of my Aunt Mary who rescues Greyhounds herself and owns an amazing dog retreat called the Canine Retreat! When she found out what I did, she posted this on facebook: “THANK YOU SO MUCH SWEETIE!!! All of the wonderful greyhounds out there waiting to find their forever home appreciate your kindness!! Your donation will help them make the transition from track life to their forever home! You are such a special gift to me! Thanks for thinking of me and helping a cause so very dear to my heart! I love you! HAPPY BIRTHDAY…see you soon!!” 🙂

Random Act of Kindness #4 = Donated to a Westie rescue group in honor of my Aunt Therese, who recently lost her Westie, Rocky. I talked to her later that night and she was so appreciative too! (Photo by Therese Hession)

Random Act of Kindness #5 = Joined (applied for) Wish Upon a Wedding Indianapolis! If you haven’t heard about this, you must check it out. It’s the first nonprofit wish granting organization providing weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness and life altering circumstances. This one will be a gift that keeps on giving! 🙂

Random Act of Kindness #6 = Wrote letters to my parents thanking them for everything they’ve done for me and for giving me this great life. (They both loved it!) I never want to get to the end of my life and wish I would’ve said thank you to someone for what they did for me. They are both the best parents ever!!

Random Act of Kindness #7 = Surprised my mom with flowers (and her card) at breakfast, she loved it so much, we both cried.

Random Act of Kindness #8 = Left a note and a bag of homemade sugar cookies in our mailbox for our mail carrier.

Random Act of Kindness #9 = Donated clothes to Goodwill.

Random Act of Kindness #10 = Donated a Petco gift card to one of my favorite charities, Cats Haven. They are always in need of items for the shelter!

Random Act of Kindness #11 = Donated a portrait session gift card to The Hair Ball, a benefit for Spay & Neuter Services of Indiana.

Random Act of Kindness #12 = Delivered mail back to the people who we bought our house from…funny story, for the last year and a half we’ve been returning their mail to them but we hadn’t met the wife yet, only her husband. When we pulled up, she was getting stuff out of her car and John startled her by saying her name. She probably thought, “who are these people and how do they know my name?!” lol

Random Act of Kindness #13 = Donated a bag of groceries to a local food drive.

Random Act of Kindness #14 = Returned stray carts from the middle of the parking lot to the cart corral at a local grocery store. One woman was so surprised at what we were doing, she actually sat and watched us!

Random Act of Kindness #15 = A few years ago, I gave away Dave Ramsey’s book “The Total Money Makeover” (blog giveaway contest I think) and one of the people who received the book recently wrote to tell me that thanks to my giveaway and their hard work, she and her husband are now debt free! Yay! So I gave away another one of his TMM books via facebook on my birthday to another deserving person. (Photo credit: Dave Ramsey website)

Random Act of Kindness #16 = Picked up my youngest sister from school and surprised her with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies! She devoured them! 🙂

Random Act of Kindness #17 = Provided cold bottled waters to accident victims on 82nd street. The looks on their faces were absolutely priceless. They were standing out in the heat waiting for the tow trucks and the cop to finish with the paperwork and they couldn’t believe that someone thought to bring them a cold drink. One guy held up his water and said “at least one good thing happened to me today!” (Photo credit: Ethos website)

Random Act of Kindness #18 = Bought my great grandma her favorite cookies, just because.

Random Act of Kindness #19 = Gave a stranger a lotto ticket.

Random Act of Kindness #20 = Delivered cards, balloons and crossword puzzles anonymously to residents of a nursing home who don’t have frequent visitors. My sister and I decided to go back to the particular nursing home that our Gramdad was in before he passed away earlier this year…that way we also had the chance to thank the great nurses who took care of him while he was there. They were not only appreciative that someone actually came back to thank them but they couldn’t believe we showed up with all of this stuff for people we don’t even know. When John & I would visit Gramdad, we often noticed that there weren’t very many visitors there at all, it was sad. We delivered one of the balloons to a young stroke patient and you could tell it made her day!

Random Act of Kindness #21 = Dropped off quarters at a laundromat.

Random Act of Kindness #22 = Bought flowers for my grandpa, just because. He absolutely loved them!

Random Act of Kindness #23 = Taped money to a vending machine to make someone’s day! The leasing manager of our office building commented on this one: “The money you left on the vending machine had people asking me questions. It was great to share your adventurous day with our tenants!”

Random Act of Kindness #24 = Enlarged a family photo that I took for my uncle, just because. 🙂

Random Act of Kindness #25 = Gave my other sister (who is in college) some pizza money for a fun night with her friends!

Random Act of Kindness #26 = Bought my youngest sister coffee after SIX attempts to pay for the person in line behind us! No one ever got in line behind us, in fact, one guy cut me off and tried to beat us to the drive thru line but little did he know, if he had only been nice and let me go ahead of him instead of being in a hurry, I would have bought his drink! Something to think about the next time you’re in a hurry. 😉 (Photo credit: Starbucks website)

Random Act of Kindness #27 = Returned a checkbook that I found at a grocery store!

Random Act of Kindness #28 = Gave my sister some dog treats to take back to Ella, her “dorm dog” (Photo credits: Mother Hubbard website & phone photo by Mary Hession )

Random Act of Kindness #29 = When Gramdad was in the hospital earlier this year, John recorded some of our conversations with him when he started giving advice about life. John sent me the audio files and I made copies for our family. Everyone was so touched at the thought of being able to hear his voice one more time, I think it meant a lot to them.

Random Act of Kindness #30 = I gave away a wedding dress that had been donated to me for a photo shoot! Yup, it went to a very deserving bride…just another reason to friend me on facebook, you never know when I’ll post something awesome like that! 😉


Here are some other random acts of kindness performed by others inspired by my birthday:

Judi Gott – I won’t go through them all, but the last one of the evening was that I drove a friend with car problems home from work (after 9pm) so that her husband wouldn’t have to come pick her up! We live in opposite directions, but it was a joy to help her out! Thanks for inspiring all of us, Erin!

Julie Owens – I’m very inspired… I took a friend to lunch, that’s a start 🙂

Elizabeth OMeara Ahlgrim – added 4 more ideas to our family’s list!

Julie Owens – It feels good to just do something because you want to and seeing peoples’s faces when you do is such a reward! I just took care of a couple’s bill at Walgreens, they are on vacation! It felt great! What an awesome idea Erin… Everyone who overheard me explaining what was going on was inspired and I told’em to pass it on 🙂 Happy Birthday!

Andrea Baker – I donated a bag of clothes to Goodwill!

Jennifer Truran Edmondson – I spent the morning reaching out to students new to the country who can’t speak any English. I met the boy and girl as I was walking into a high school to do observations and threw that to the wind to help these students adjust and learn. Reaching the unreached. At risk high school. What an experience!

Tenille Meyer – Wow! Jennifer tops me….I brought my hair stylist coffee! Lol

Angie Garlinger Eberhart – Put extra change in the parking meter…free parking for somebody 🙂

Brooke Wilson – I just wanted you to know how truly beautiful you are! God has blessed you with compassion and an art. You moved so many people with your actions, even strangers! I spent the day working at the heart center, but I want you to know your compassion was in my mind all day as I cared and prayed for my patients. God bless!

It’s definitely never too late to join in…comment below if you were inspired by this blog post and keep adding to this list! 🙂 My birthday was definitely the best EVER!! Thank you to all of you who participated, commented and encouraged my endeavor! (I’ll post more pics of my actual parties and things later)




  • Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Erin, This was an awesome awesome thing to follow on facebook that day. You have totally inspired me to put this in my back pocket for my own 30th birthday. The things you did helped your family, strangers, and the community!
    And of course, anything that supports Aunt Mary! Ray Ban loves her Aunt Mary!

  • Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Erin — I just happened upon this post this morning and had to comment. This is such a great idea, and it’s hard to believe that you fit all of this into one day. As someone who is staring down the big 3-0, I now plan on doing the same thing for my 30th. This is really inspiring.

    I also wanted to let you know that you can find our exactly how much good your Goodwill donation did by entering what you donated in our Donation Impact Calculator at http://donate.goodwill.org. One pair of jeans, for example, can provide 7 minutes of career counseling for someone who is having a hard time finding a job.

    Thanks, again, for this great post and all of the good you’ve done in your community.

  • Thursday, September 23, 2010

    LOVE this, Erin. And, that it was done on a day that’s supposed to be about celebrating one’s self that all the better!

  • Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Oh Erin…I just LOVE this! I love that you read my blog, but more importantly I LOVE that you were inspired to celebrate your birthday this way, and by doing so have inspired others to pay it forward! What a blessing! I know how you feel today, but trust me when I say how it will CONTINUE to bless your heart and life for MONTHS (and maybe years) to come! My birthday was in January and I am STILL feeling like it’s that same wonderful day over and over again, even 8-9 months later!
    Thanks for the shout out. Love your site. You rock.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY girl! 🙂