year of kindness challenge: week 8

Happy Monday, friends!

I spent this past weekend in Louisville for a literature & culture conference at the University of Louisville. I presented a paper on Saturday morning, and then Mike and I stayed an extra day to take in the sights and have a mini “vacation.” We had so much fun! Louisville is only a few hours south of where we live in Indiana, but it felt very different there — warmer weather, lots of fun shops and new restaurants to explore, and that lovely Southern twang! If you’ve never been there, I would definitely recommend it as a great city to check out! We are already talking about going back sometime in the spring or summer.

Another novelty about the weekend? Both Mike and I left our computers at home and neither of us have smartphones, so we were Internet-free for two days. It was a nice break to be “off the grid” for a little bit! We both returned home feeling recharged. I don’t really think of myself as someone who wastes time online — usually when I’m online, I’m checking emails or reading blogs or looking up recipes or reading submissions for Sycamore Review, etc etc etc — but in the past few weeks I’ve found myself checking my email and going online perhaps more often than I need to. I think it’s easy to fall into “Internet autopilot” and feel like we must be constantly engaged with the web, staying updated, checking posts … and all of that can just be exhausting after a while, you know? It was such a relief to lie down on the hotel bed, crack open a good novel and not feel like there was anything else I was “supposed” to be doing. I think Mike and I are going to try to “unplug” more often as part of our weekend routine!

Now, on to the kindness! 🙂

year of kindness button

Last week’s kindness challenge was to drop off a donation of canned goods to a food pantry, homeless shelter, or soup kitchen. This idea came when I was thinking about how we often hear a number of opportunities to donate food to the hungry during Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it seems donation efforts die down once the holiday season has come and gone.

My first step was to go through my cupboards and pantry and find a variety of nonperishable food items to donate. As you can see, a lot of tomato-based products made the list, since I have made a big effort the past few months to fully weed out tomatoes from our diet. {Nothing against tomatoes! But Mike is allergic.}

cans from pantry

Then I picked up some canned veggies at the grocery store to round out the donation, and put everything into a big bag! {Note to self: next time, use two smaller bags. Mike helped me carry carried this big bag to my car for me.}

food donation bag

A quick Internet search brought up multiple food pantries in Lafayette, including one just a five-minute drive from campus. I dropped Mike off at school and zoomed over to the food pantry before I had to teach my class. Like last week when I dropped off Valentines to the nursing home, this only took me a short time, but it brightened my whole day! The woman working at the food pantry was SO surprised and grateful for my drop-by donation. I definitely plan to go back and make more donations in the future. It was a drizzly, cold, gray day, but walking back to my car afterwards I swear the world seemed sunnier. Every week of this project just proves to me more and more how being kind to others brings so much kindness and joy into your own life.

A reader emailed me that instead of donating food this past week, they donated toiletries to a women’s shelter. I think that is such a great idea that I am officially making it the Week 8 Kindness Challenge: donate toiletries to a women’s shelter or homeless shelter. Are you someone who stocks up on those free hotel soaps and shampoos and lotions? Why not clean out your stash by donating it to those in need? Or pick up an extra bottle of your favorite shampoo/conditioner/body wash next time you’re at the store and bring it by a shelter in your area. I know it will be appreciated!

Blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a marvelous week!
-Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry