~shared by J. Ranner
Many moons ago, I was a business student trying to learn as much as I could about the economy, salesmanship, consumer trends, advertising and management. And while deep down I truly love the subject matter and the challenge it presents, I was always thrilled to choose my “gen ed” credits in school. They offered me a chance to free my mind from the business world for a few hours and appreciate all kinds of arts, sciences, and humanities.
My favorites of these electives were always Philosophy courses. Even if it had “nothing” to do with my ultimate career goals, I was always up for a good spirited debate with friends on the issues. One of the topics that I latched onto and kept in my life long after my last Scantron was the definition of “Good.” What makes something or someone good? Is there such a thing as “good for the sense of good” without any selfish alterior agendas.
I’ve come to the conclusion that there certainly IS. It’s entirely possibly for all of us to commit truly good deeds so long as we expect absolutely nothing in return. The deed is the reward in itself, so to speak. The next set of our “12 Days of Giving” objectives all centered around what you might call “random acts of kindness.”
THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS
5. The Salvation Army “Angel Tree” – Back in early November, a tiny Christmas tree was placed in our staff dining area with the names, ages, and needs of local children on tags. And little by little, the spirit of the season drove our employees to each “adopt” a child and ensure that they have a nice holiday. Little did we know that the program would take off the way it did!
What started off as an uncertain 50 names being placed on our tree was quashed with our signature positive energy. Not ony were all 50 names snatched up within a few weeks, we kept going until over 115 children were adopted and shopped for. Storage for the gifts spilled out of the normal executive office hallways… and into the executive offices themselves!
6. Coffee Shop Takeover – Because you’re a loyal reader, I’ll be frank with you about myself: my day simply cannot start without a proper cup of coffee. Throw in anxiety about shopping, bills, and work pressure and I will eventually transform into your worst nightmare. But not if I get my coffee. It makes everything right in the world, and I feel I’m not alone on this issue.
So on one chilly morning a week before Christmas, I sent my boss (loving the role reversal) and our very own Road Trip Concierge to surprise some people with an unexpected free cup of joe at the Northern Lights Coffee Shop in downtown Scranton. For an hour, patrons showed up and were treated to delicious java and a holiday greeting from the Woodloch family.
7. Free Hugs – Outside of this marvelous microcosm I like to refer to as “Woodloch Land,” the world can sometimes be a very cold and dark place. And sadly, I sometimes feel that society is slowly descending into a state where outward love and compassion are taboo- if a man kisses his girlfriend in public, we’re so quick to stare, scratch our heads, and even be outwardly disgusted. I don’t buy that at all. Show love and let someone know how you feel while we’re here and can do so, because NONE of us know what lies ahead in the future.
But, as Dr. Marvin would say, “baby steps.” So moving directly between the lines of yuletide fire (i.e. busy shopping malls on a December Saturday morning), Woodloch sent a collection of our most cuddly and friendly faces to offer those in need “FREE HUGS.” Distraught and stressed out shoppers and even employees approached us with our “FREE HUGS” sign. Little gestures like that can certainly go a long way- sometimes, everyone just needs a hug.
8. Random Gifting – Once again, I’m pointing the finger of blame upon “society.” Everyone always thinks that no matter how great of a thing might be happening directly to you, there’s always some kind of “catch.” There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Except when there IS.
Once again utilizing a crowded shopping mall as our environment, The Woodloch Crew purchased a stack of Visa gift cards that can be used literally everywhere. And then, we simply handed them out to people that looked like they needed a picker upper. We said “Hi- happy holidays,” made our drops and disappeared as mysteriously as we had arrived. We got a great reaction, including one from an employee that was down on his luck.
So just like Stella from “A Streetcar Named Desire,” every once in a while, you actually CAN depend on the kindness of strangers. Especially if Woodloch has anything to say about it!