Twice a month he hands out cash to strangers. This is how it all began.
For Allstate employee Jaime Angeles, this random act of kindness—a small gesture of generosity—has become a big part of his everyday life.
Editor’s note: Kindness is all around us. Even in today’s polarized political climate and sometimes toxic social media landscape, it’s not hard to spot genuine acts of kindness and generosity. That’s why we’re launching the Kindness Chronicles, a regular series on The Renewal Project that exposes the goodness that we know exists in every neighborhood. Submit your story to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to us @therenewalproj, using the hashtag #kindnesschronicles.
They say you get whatever you put into the universe. For Jaime Angeles, a lead consultant manager with Allstate, his gift of choice is kindness. The Mount Prospect, Illinois, resident started a random act of kindness campaign about two years ago and hasn’t looked back since.
The idea is simple: Once a pay period, Jaime sets aside $20 that he hands out to strangers in denominations of $5. He expects nothing in return, but these small deeds pay dividends in knowing that he’s made someone’s day.
We talked to Jaime about his kindness campaign. Here’s his story, in his own words, plus tips on how to replicate this simple show of generosity in your own hometown.
The nuts and bolts
Every pay period I take a $20 bill. I get four fives, four envelopes, and put $5 in each envelope along with an index card with a saying, something like, “Today feel the sun on your face and smile.” Just a random thought in my head wishing someone a great day.
I seal it up and walk to wherever I’m going. If I see somebody who’s struggling, like a mom with three kids, I go and give her an envelope. Or someone sitting alone looking pensive, or groups of people having a good time. It’s random.
Sometimes when I’m out with people I’ll ask them to join me. I’ll have my friend give out an envelope. They don’t feel comfortable at first. “Who should I give it to?,” they ask. “Anyone who you think should get one.”
It’s really interesting to watch people. Sometimes what happens, people are reluctant to take the envelope. They don’t know if it’s an ad or what it is. The majority don’t read it right away.
You don’t wait around for the person to thank you. You don’t do it to get something from the other person.
Once, in downtown Chicago by “the Bean,” I had given an envelope to a person in a group and they walked away. They opened it up and chased us down, and we sat around and chatted. It’s a great opportunity to make friends. That made me feel proud that they had a positive experience in Chicago. It’s not a scary place that sometimes it’s made out to be.
It all began when …
We go through life and we think about the things we don’t have. At that moment in my life I was feeling like I was lacking. We think we don’t have, but the reality is that we do have.
I started doing this with no expectations and all of a sudden positive things started happening. I can’t begin to tell you how rewarding it is, in the sense of what you gain. You don’t wait around for the person to thank you. You don’t do it to get something from the other person. I give them the envelope and I walk away.
‘Have a coffee on me today’
This is gonna make me choke up. I was at a Starbucks and there was an older lady by herself reading books. She looked kind of sad. She had left her table. … I left the envelope on her table, and I don’t know what she was going through, but she started to cry.
You don’t know what people are going through. Is she a struggling mom? Is she having a stressful day? Does this person feel lonely? I don’t know what she was going through, but I hope it made her day.
Do this at home
Tips are: first and foremost, don’t expect anything. Give without expectations.
Then don’t be surprised if people don’t take it. People aren’t receptive to strangers approaching them and handing them an envelope.
Just be patient.