Villagers are renowned for their seemingly endless generosity. We read often about clubs, churches and businesses in our community that raise thousands of dollars for local charities or dedicate hundreds of volunteer hours to worthy causes.
That said, it’s not always the large donations or the well-known kind acts, the ones that merit coverage in the media, that make a difference in and around The Villages. Often, it’s the spontaneous gesture or random act of courtesy or generosity, the one that goes relatively unnoticed, that makes us what we are.
Case in point: Last year, I was at Lake Sumter Landing one cool winter evening when I noticed a young man in a Marine Corps uniform trying to walk around the square, his arm lightly resting on his wife’s shoulder. They were with two other couples — I assumed were either his or his wife’s parents and grandparents, judging by their ages.
Without exaggeration, this young Marine was stopped every few feet by Villagers who thanked him for his service. After about 10 such stops and having moved only a small distance, I overheard him tell the older gentleman in his group, “I’ve never had so many people come up and thank me — I’ll never forget this.”
As a journalist, I’m used to observing people, and observing this young man being clearly moved by the experience that continued to unfold as he slowly made his way around the square made me take notice.
Could those comments to that Marine be random acts of kindness? Absolutely. Were they small gestures? Some might say yes, but there is one young man who would most likely disagree — a Marine who’ll probably never forget that evening in The Villages.
Random acts of kindness are like an unplanned gift: You don’t see them coming, yet when you give or receive them, they’re more meaningful by their very spontaneity. Random acts of kindness occur in and around The Villages every day. We see them played out when lost wallets are turned in, stalled golf carts are towed by strangers, or when a Villages newbie is given directions.
I recently witnessed a man on his daily walk pick up another Villager’s dog droppings and place them in a plastic bag. He said he had walked by the mess the day before and just thought it was the right thing to do. Then there were the couple who paid for a veteran’s dinner because the WWII vet was wearing a baseball cap with a military insignia.
One day, as I was standing in line at a fast-food eatery, I overheard a man wearing a Villages baseball cap tell his cashier he would pay for the meals of a young mother and her three children standing in the line to his right. I glanced over and observed the woman frantically counting out change in an attempt to cover the cost of her bill.
Random acts of kindness aren’t always about money: a compliment to the woman you saw helping an elderly man with his groceries; a thank-you to that waiter for his efficient service; better yet, asking to see his manager and saying how pleased you were.
All of those random acts have the potential to transform someone’s day.
As the Christmas season gets into full swing, it’s only appropriate I thank each and every one of you for your random acts of kindness. I’m proud to be a part of a community that has built its reputation on a foundation of compassion and caring.
Have a wonderful holiday.