Unforgettable Connections Built By Kindness

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When I started writing this column, I was excited to hear from the people of Fargo-Moorhead. I had a hunch there were beautiful acts of kindness happening all around me, but I wasn’t quite sure how to find them. So, I put out a call for help. I asked readers to send me their stories of kindness, and I prayed. I hoped people would be open enough to share their stories with me and with an entire newspaper audience, and I desperately prayed people would take the time to actually write those stories down and send them in. I was looking for several things. I wanted to hear about the times when people initiated an act of kindness and how great it made them feel, but I also wanted to hear about those times when kindness had taken them by surprise and touched their hearts on a day when they may have needed it most. I still get a jolt of joy every time I open my email or find a letter on my desk addressed, “Kindness is Contagious.” I love reading the stories that come straight from the lives of people in the Red River Valley. When they write about something that happened at the mall or the grocery store, it resonates with me, because I’ve walked down those same aisles. I am reminded on a daily basis, regardless of what the rest of the newspaper says, that goodness exists in my community. What I never guessed when I asked for those stories is how often I would become part of the circle of kindness and how far the ripples of kindness would reach. Here’s what I haven’t told you about the mail I’ve gotten. More often than not, there is money involved. People have sent me checks to pass along to Samaritan’s Feet, Diva Connection Foundation, my friend whose son is losing his vision, the lady who needed money for a bus ticket, and many other causes I have talked about in this column. Several of you have sent checks payable to me, asking me to do an act of kindness of your behalf. I am honored to be trusted with such a beautiful task, but honestly, I’m also stunned. I simply cannot believe the generosity in your hearts. A woman in her 90s started writing weekly letters to my children after I mentioned in a column how much I long for local grandparents for my little ones. Now my kids are learning what it was like to take a horse and buggy to a one-room North Dakota schoolhouse, and they are practicing their letter-writing skills. I have been the recipient of colorful letters myself from the Kindness Club in Evansville, Minn. Barb Bratvold is the teacher who started the club in 1995. Since that time, 316 students have been inducted as lifetime members, sending out more than 47,000 greeting cards to people who are lonely, facing adversity or could just use a smile. My cards came from first- and second-graders, and they sure did brighten my day! But wait, there’s more. A man from Kentucky sent me a book, called “Random Acts of Kindness,” he thought I might enjoy reading. That was a random act of kindness in itself! A retired letter carrier from Canada who has been nicknamed “The Singing Postie,” sent me a stack of his inspirational writing. I have even gotten a letter from a South Dakota man serving time at the U.S. penitentiary in Kansas. He just wanted to tell me how important kindness is in this world. When I started writing this column, I hoped that by sharing essays of kindness, we could convince people in the Fargo-Moorhead area to step out of their comfort zones and show love. I believe that is happening, thanks to your stories. But also, thanks to your stories, the kindness isn’t limited by geography. What I have found out from people in Florida, California, Kentucky, Canada and Kansas is that kindness matters all over this world and it really is contagious. This column was written exclusively for The Forum. Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at nphillips15@hotmail.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107. Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.

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