It can mean paying a compliment to a family member or friend, refraining from a hurtful comment at work or in school, smiling to a stranger on the street, willingly doing a chore at home (even if it's "not my job"), or something as simple as cleaning up one's own mess after lunch. To quote another axiom: Little things mean a lot.-- RHEAL IN OTTAWA, CANADA
DEAR RHEAL: I agree. Sometimes they can be the simplest things, opportunities we take for granted that are right in front of us. I was touched by the responses I received from readers suggesting other acts of kindness:
DEAR ABBY: Animal shelters often need volunteers to walk dogs. Rescue organizations could use foster families for pets, or even pet food donations or supplies. Veterans organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project welcome volunteers to help with events, or mentor or assist vets in writing a resume.
If you sign up with Volunteers of America, they can match you with organizations that suit your skills -- reading to the elderly in nursing homes, etc. Youth shelters can sometimes use volunteers to help teens learn basic life skills such as balancing a checkbook, smart grocery shopping or meal planning.
Around the holidays, my husband and I visit the cemetery and clean/maintain headstones that look neglected, especially those of veterans.-- LYNN IN BOTHELL, WASH.
DEAR ABBY: As an avid teenage volunteer, I have some suggestions! Donating your hair to Locks of Love is one of my favorite acts of kindness. Your hair will help make wigs for women with cancer. Donating blood is another great way to help strangers.
If you prefer to give your time instead, nursing homes are always looking for people to play bingo with patients. Shelters for women and children need volunteers to come and play with the children, so the moms have time to talk with counselors.-- SARA IN SUGAR LAND, TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: "Trying" could join a neighborhood watch or help with Meals on Wheels, take the newspaper to an elderly person's front porch, or start a recycling program in her neighborhood.-- LUCY IN ST. LOUIS
DEAR ABBY: I decided, after a self-imposed seclusion (my daughter passed away at a young age), to go back out in the world and spread the joy of flowers. I contacted a local supermarket and asked them to save me their wilting flowers that would have been thrown out. I took the best, arranged them in vases, and distributed them to local nursing homes, memory-care facilities and hospice. In this way I have brightened people's last days on Earth with something that would have otherwise been discarded.
My "mission" has expanded now and includes another store and a shelter for abused women and children.-- KATHY IN NAPLES, FLA.
DEAR ABBY: Volunteer to drive people to vote on Election Day. And the easiest -- call the aging members of your family regularly and let them talk your ear off!-- MARY IN EAST HARTFORD, CONN.