Just because: Random Acts of Kindness Day spurs altruism

The acts of kindness can be simple; carrying a senior’s groceries, complementing a colleague’s work, or donating some canned vegetables at the area food bank — but the rewards are substantial.

February 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day in the U.S. — it’s celebrated on other dates around the world.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has celebrated this day since 1995, in an attempt to make kindness the norm.

In more recent days, some people have had the surprise of pulling up to a drive-thru window and being told the person ahead of them already paid for their coffee.

Other acts of kindness are more grand: In 1984, a Dobbs Ferry, New York, police officer split a $3 million winning lottery ticket with a server at a Yonkers pizza restaurant. The story is the basis for the 1994 romantic comedy, “It Could Happen To You.”

The theme of improving one person’s life as a way of improving the world is the premise behind the film “Pay It Forward.”

The person who has the kindness bestowed upon them isn’t the only one who benefits; scientists said witnesses to acts of kindness often perpetuate them — suggesting kindness is contagious.

And the person doing the giving also benefits, as researchers have concluded that generous behavior is known to increase happiness.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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