I guess I’m a bit behind, which isn’t all that unusual. It’s been a little over a month since NBC News correspondent Ann Curry challenged her Twitter followers to complete 26 acts of kindness–one for each of the 20 children and six adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14, 2012. The campaign went viral.
#26Acts was soon trending on Twitter; its Facebook page now has more than 100,000 “likes.” It isn’t hard to find Instagram photos and social media posts about all of the generous, and unique, ways people have found to pay it forward.
That was the week before Christmas. Apparently I’ve been living under a rock.
Then, today at church the pastor mentioned a member of the congregation named Mandy Johnson. Johnson, a resident of Tuscaloosa, has taken on Curry’s challenge. An article in the Tuscaloosa News featured Johnson’s story, which is unique in that each of the 26 acts of kindness connects in some way with the Newtown victims. She put a gift card in an Olivia the Pig book to honor victim Olivia Engel, in addition to hiding a gift card in a copy of Brides magazine in memory of slain teacher Rachael D’Avino, whose boyfriend was planning on proposing on Christmas. Each act comes with a note.
Dan Powell read the TNews article and recognized the act of kindness he had received. The paper ran a follow-up article on Powell’s story. After losing his mother, Powell was searching for a sign. He found it when an anonymous do-gooder paid for his lunch at Newk’s restaurant. It was Johnson.
Curry’s challenge has spanned the nation and the state. Al.com posted a list of 26 random acts, all simple, all doable, all meaningful.
In a time when a text message is more commonplace than a phone call, when football and politics are debilitatingly divisive, and when eating dinner together means scanning the Facebook mobile app on separate smart phones, 26 random acts mean much more than a free lunch or a bouquet of flowers. 26 acts of kindness unify us. 26 acts allow us to grieve. 26 acts allow us to remember. 26 acts allow us to change the world.