Sunday, June 24, 2007

Steppin' UP

The following letter to the Editor appeared in yesterday's Boston Globe:

I am a first grade teacher in Norwood.

In September, I received a package at

school filled with children's books,

stationery, stickers, classroom decorations,

pencils, and candy. Inside was a note from

someone identifying herself only as

"a friend", encouraging me to stay positive.

The author fondly recalled her own years

of teaching and her love of children.

As the months passed, I continued to

receive packages at school--at Halloween,

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter. After

each delivery, I discussed the beauty of

our gifts with my students. I was able to

convey the value of giving without expecting

anything in return.

About a week ago, the school secretary called

down to my room and reported that another

package had been delivered.

I ran to the front of the school and followed my

mystery angel, a woman unfamiliar to me, to her

car. "Who are you?" she asked as I asked her the

"I won't tell you my name," she told me, "but I will
tell you that I never wanted you to see me. Some-
one in your school told me that you were new
here, and I wanted you to feel encouraged and

She said she felt that educators often don't
receive the support and love they need to carry
out their jobs.

After embracing me and wishing me well, my
"friend" drove off, leaving many of my questions

Although I never learned her name, I did learn
a lifetime of lessons from her this year.
Megan Walsh

A simple act. A huge act.

It's pretty easy to be a Mystery Angel. You just have to do something nice and not get caught doing it.

And most of the time you end up feeling terrific, not to mention the effect on the receiver of your kindness.

Today I offer you a CHALLENGE: sometime during the next three days--from now until Tuesday or Wednesday of the week--find a way to be a MYSTERY ANGEL.

Do something nice and don't get caught.

Then feel good about it.

Then tell me. And I will reward you with a prize. It might be a poem written especially for you, or something else--you never know....

Be a MYSTERY ANGEL this week. Just one time. Do something that heals and helps.

I ask this of you because I think acts like this make a difference in the world far beyond our assumptions.


  1. OK, I have an idea for Wednesday.
    I'll tell you.
    I have a colleague at work, we don't work that closely together.
    She has been absent for about two months after surgery to remove two brain tumors. Not malignant, fortunately. She comes back to work on Wednesday. There will be a bunch of flowers on her desk when she gets in :-)

  2. oh pieterbie, fabulous. remember long ago when i told you you were a doll? you really are.

    thank you for a great start to the challenge of MYSTERY ANGELS.

    ok, guys: who's next????

  3. Wonderful story, KJ. I have another suggestion: choose someone less obvious, who works behind the scenes in ways that don't demand attention and is always available and willing to help. People who volunteer to coach teams or run charity events that demand thank you speeches, etc., are all doing fine work and get plenty of kudos and recognition. Teachers are so flooded with presents and thank you's at year end that it can be overwhelming. Even people facing a devastating illness or a loss get flowers and cards and kindness because it's the right thing to do and we feel deeply sorry for them. But what about the person who's always willing to babysit your kids on a moment's notice, toils behind the strong personalities, supporting their high-profile efforts while doing the grunt work most won't do, who always remember your birthday ... and who never make a peep when they're continually ignored. These people probably need anonymous gifts of kindness more because it may have been years since anyone even acknowledged their existence. Thanks for the idea, KJ. I'm off to find my quiet angel now...

  4. I have another one.
    Remember me posting something about that young cleaning lady who does my office, in fact the whole floor so well?
    I'll find a way to provide her with a little gift. I'll buy her some chocolates, put them on her trolley when she is not looking, with a little note thanking her for a job well done.
    Thanks, KJ, I really think you have given me an idea to spread somehappiness. In fact I will do this from time to time as of now and I'll think of you everytime.

  5. you rock girl, get us going!

  6. this story made my day! about a year ago, i went into starbucks in an incredibly foul mood about something school related. i went to the counter and ordered a drink, but when i attempted to pay, the cashier said that an anonymous donor had come in and paid for everyone's drinks that day and to encourage the customers to do something helpful for someone else that day. my mood immediately lifted and i was so inspired. i am going to take you up on your chalenge and hope that all of your readers do. oh, imagine the possibilities!

  7. kj,
    this put a smile on my face on a Monday morning. And i needed it badly. Joshua's running a fever, Faith screaming and crying this morning about not wanting to go to school and me feeling guilty about going to work when I feel I should bring josh to the doctor instead of my mom doing it.

    i love this idea. am going to work on it. :D

  8. This is fantastic. It restores one's faith in humanity!!

  9. andrea, i can't wait to see who/what you come up with.

    pieterbie, and i'll think of you as well.

    singleton, thanks. are you in?!

    ruby, so nice to hear from you. i can't explain the scientific basis, but i've read/know that collective positive energy has a strong positive force. that's what i think of when i envision kind acts, one building on another.

    mench, i hope josh is better and faith is coming. how well i remember monday mornings like those. sometimes the best you can do is remind yourself it's the best you can do!

    bibi, 'restoring faith'. i imagine that would move us forward at rocket speed. too much bad news filling our heads and not enough reporting of good kind affirming acts.

  10. What a heart-warming letter, KJ!
    I am going to dig out my wings and think of some random act of kindness...
    The only thing is that I am so nosy, I'd love to know how the other person will react.
    I think that would defeat the object, wouldn't it?
    Back to the drawing board...

  11. cream, maybe you could figure out a way to do this and then watch it unfold. if you know how to run a restaurant, which you do, you can definitely figure out how to observe your kind act in action!

    i'll be waiting to hear what happened!


  12. I missed the deadline as I was out of town, but its a wonderful story and a wonderful challenge. Even though it's too late, I'll work on a way to do something, and let you know.

  13. cs, it's not too late! you have until wednesday, plus you are granted special dispensation if you need more time.

    go at it, cs!


  14. Hmmm, I've had two mystery angels in the last couple of years visit but too tired to think of a unique gift to give. This doesn't mean I'm selfish! Enjoying reading these comments ... :)

  15. Well who is that angel who always makes me do the right thing the very last minute...oh that's my conscience.

    I do laundry without complaining most times, would that be considered a kind act? No, just responsibility?

  16. anon, no doubt you are not selfish. even the birds know that.

    ces,yes, alright, ok: you can count doing laundry as a kind act...


  17. OK, report on action 1.

    First the lesson learnt: even in a major city like Brussels it very difficult to find something nice to give before 10:30. All flower, chocolate stores remain closed until 10:30.

    But I did find a unique gift of good tasting stuff, I slipped in to the colleagues office and left it on her desk.

    I had a meeting with the colleague later in the course of the day and she was very happy with all the positive attention that she was getting. Her staff got her a lovely bunch of flowers and someone unknown had left a special bag of luxurious chocolate creations on her desk :-)

    Yep, it makes you feel good.

    Action 2 will be in the future, as the cleaning lady has been rotated to another floor. But the one who is here now is not doing a bad job, so she may become my victim tomorrow :-)

    Thanks for this idea, KJ, I'm really enjoying this.