Monday, May 31, 2010

CIndy Day 7

TITLE: Two positives made a negative

Date: 20 Feb 2010

Explanation of the act:

The awesome Project Nice coordinator Erinn explained she couldn’t drink any beer because she was going to donate blood the next day while we were out at a bar. I expressed how wonderful I thought it was that she was doing that. She went on to say that she was a bit nervous about all of it and she had never given blood before. I explained I was free the next day and would go if she wanted company and I would even be a good person and donate too! Erinn immediately eased up about the situation. Nice Deed Part 1 done!

Erinn, her hubby, and adorable kid picked me up so that I wouldn’t have to drive. Her hubby and kid toured the mall a few times while we went to the blood drive. We got in line and won some prizes for trivia! Good karma already! Erinn and I each go back to our information gathering person who decides if we are suitable for blood donation. Well I noted and issue with my heart which took about 30 minutes, 4 phone calls, and 6 people to say that I could donate blood. I really should have taken this as a warning sign. I figured by now Erinn was already giving blood by herself and I was feeling really guilty that I wasn’t there. Alas they let me go with paperwork to donate and Erinn was still waiting in the donation room. I felt better. We get two chairs next to each other. They work on Erinn first and come to find out her veins are too small! The needle is bigger than her veins and she couldn’t donate. My veins were fine and I could but they made Erinn leave, donors only were allowed in the area. So I listened to my iPod and one handed texted to her for the 7 or so minutes it took. I felt fine so I was released to the snack table where I enjoyed some pretzels, water, and juice. A success right? I helped save someone’s life!

Erinn was disappointed she couldn’t give and my hubby was so proud of me for giving. You would think it would end here right? Wrong! No good deed goes unpunished that’s for sure. I woke up at 2am and 6am puking! I called the number and the women on the other end explained that sometimes first time female donors have a bit of a reaction and that I may need to go to the ER for some fluids if I don’t improve. At 10am I still felt bad, called the nurse mother-in-law and within 45 minutes was sitting in the ER and stayed there for the next 9 hours…

Would I do it again?

Nope! I didn’t realize that donating blood dehydrates you (yes I should have known) and my medical conditions make me very suseptiable to dehydration. I will have to find other ways to help. Unless it is for a family member or close friend I will not be a vampire donor, sorry Edward!


$40 for the ER visit

If you are healthier than me then it costs you nothing


Not too much


The donation process is time consuming especially if they are busy. Be sure to block out 2-3 hours. I had the added time of an ER visit

Sunday, May 30, 2010

CIndy Day 6

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CINDY!!!!! YOU'RE THE BEST!!! Or at least in the top ten!!!!

Shaken Not Stirred

Date: 20 Feb 2010

Explanation of the act:

I go to the same Starbucks several times during the week. They know me and my order. I get the venti unsweetened black ice tea. Starbucks advertises their ice tea to be shaken which means that ice, water, and concentrated tea go into what looks like a martini shaker. It get shaken and poured into the glass. It is delicious! Well several baristas just put everything in the cup and give it to you. It doesn’t have quite the same taste. The shaken is way better!

Today I decided to make a special point to thank my barista for shaking the tea. So I said upon receiving my tea “Thanks so much for actually shaking it. Not everyone does and it tastes so much better.”

Smile from barista and “I agree it tastes so much better and you get that nice little froth at the top. Have a good day!”

Would I do it again?

Absolutely!! How hard is it to thank people for doing a good job. We complain when people don’t do what they are supposed to but don’t thank or point out those that are doing it because “it’s their job” or “they get paid to do that.” Everyone likes to be thanked and acknowledged even if it is for doing what they are supposed to do.


Nothing! I was buying a drink anyway

Minimal – it was a natural conversation topic


30 seconds (if that)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

CIndy Day 5

TITLE: Tried to pay for lunch

Date: 30 Dec 2009

Explanation of the act:

Spontaneous event. Pay for someone’s lunch. After Project Nice coordinator was on TV we decided to go to the best salad place in all of Washington D.C., Chop’t.

I was paying for my salad at one register and the girl next to me was paying too. She only had a Discover Card and Chop’t doesn’t take Discover. She didn’t have any other credit card to use. I offered my Visa card without skipping a beat. It was only going to cost under $15 no big deal. I told them to swipe my card for both meals. The girl wouldn’t hear of it. I tried to insist. Project Nice coordinator was just on TV for nice things this was the least I could do to try and be as awesome as her. The cashier said she would take care of it, I think this kind of thing must happen fairly regularly. It did seem as though they were going to make sure the girl got her lunch and that was what mattered. No one should miss out on a Chop’t salad lunch!

The girl thanked me many times for the nice offer. I tried to explain that we just left the TV studio for nice things but I was so flustered that I don’t think it came out very intelligibly . One the plus side I think it may have made her day that someone offered. That’s the goal right?

Would I do it again? Sure!

Cost: $0 but if successful would have been about $15

Effort: The effort was in trying to convince them to take my credit card!

Time: About 3 minutes

Friday, May 28, 2010

CIndy Day 4

TITLE: Let them have the shorter line

Date: December 2009

Explanation of the act:
Spontaneous event. I am not in a hurry and my line is going to move faster so let the person in the in the other line jump into my line.


My grocery line had a person with a couple items and the other line had someone with many items. The second person in line stood behind the person with lots of items. My person was getting ready to pay so I offered up my line. The person was thankful but then STRIKE my line paid with a CHECK! Who pays with checks still?! Well that slowed things down considerably and the other line finished first. Crap! The idea wasn’t for me to check out first but for them since I wasn’t in any sort of hurry. I apologized and offered back the original line.

The lady laughed and was totally nice about it and wasn’t in a hurry either. She appreciated my effort. So a sort of win for showing niceness…

Would I do it again? Maybe, but assess the situation more closely

Cost: Nada

Effort: Minimal

Time: A few minutes

Thursday, May 27, 2010

CIndy Day 3

TITLE: Disney World Fast Pass to the Tower of Terror

Date: 12 Jan 2010

Explanation of the act:

In Disney World they have this fabulous system called Fast Pass. You get a ticket and come back at the specified time and you move to the front of the line. You can get a new one approximately every 2 hours. The idea was to give someone our Fast Pass tickets.

We were getting ready to leave Hollywood Studios for Epcot. We got some Fast Pass tickets for the Tower of Terror that were usable in an hour or so. I approached a couple people heading there asking if they wanted them since we were leaving (even though I had deliberately procured the tickets.) The said no they would just go on the ride now. Strike! Really?! This is the best ride in the park, we try to ride it as many times as possible! I saw an middle age couple with “Happy Anniversary” buttons. Perfect! I approached them and offered them the tickets with a “Happy Anniversary” worked in.


They were appreciative. Hopefully this added to their anniversary trip.

Would I do it again?

Sure! This was easy enough. Next time I would get the tickets and hold onto them until it was the appropriate time and then approach someone who was in the regular line at that time so they could skip ahead. I may also choose a ride that has a longer line like the Toy Story Mania ride. Those Fast Pass tickets are a hot commodity and sell out within a couple hours of the park opening!


Nothing, it’s included with our park admission


Not much but next time I should be more strategic


About 5 minutes

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

CIndy Day 2

ITLE: Free Bagel Coupon

Date: 30 Jan 2010

Explanation of the act:
We had a coupon from the internet for a free bagel and “smear” at Einstein Brothers. Who doesn’t love a free bagel?! We were planning to use it ourselves and printed out an extra to give away.

Well it was another snowy Saturday! Driving to the Einstein Brothers was a slow event. We got there and the place was packed! Awesome lots of potential people, although many of them already had their food, darn. The line was a few people deep. The lady in front of us seemed nice. I asked if she was getting a bagel and cream cheese. She said she was getting a box of bagels. Strike! So I still offered her the coupon indicating it wouldn’t expire until the next day.

As an additional note I made many copies of the coupon and left them in the staff room at school.

She took the coupon, thanked me and stuffed it into her purse. It probably didn’t get used. Personally I am always happy to just have the coupon even if I end up not using it. She wasn’t overly thrilled but thanked me. It is hard when people are already there for a specific purpose.

I saw several staff members excited for the coupon. I guess it makes more sense to give it to people who haven’t gone yet.

Would I do it again?

Sure who doesn’t like a good coupon. I do need to work on my strategy of how I approach people.

Cost: printer ink an paper (5 cents maybe..)

Effort: not much I was going for myself too. More effort was in the driving there and back

Time: 1 min to print and 30 sec to talk

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

CIndy Day 1

Edit from Erinn: Cindy got extra days... why? Not just because she's been my number 1 cheerleader, or featured in many of my own good deeds, but because she was hospitalized because of one of her good deeds. AND she's still friends with me.

So yeah, she got a few extra days, deal with it.

Hello everyone out there in Blogger-land. I am kind of new to this whole blogging thing. I did just in the past 2 months set up my own blog. You can read it at . It’s about using technology in a math classroom or my experiments with it. So anywho I teach across the hall from Project Nice coordinator and cheered her on when she first began the be nice to a stranger project. I try to always be nice to people so I thought this wouldn’t be so hard. I have learned that my unplanned attempts at being nice go much smoother than my planned ones! I hope you will find some comic relief in the account of my attempts at being overly nice. Happy Nice Blogging!

Dessert for the security guards

Date: 6 Feb 2010 aka Snowpocalypse weekend

Explanation of the act:

Our little community has a guard shack at the entrance. These guys have to deal with people who can’t use a call box and keep out those who shouldn’t be in the neighborhood. They don’t get paid much and always have a wave when you are entering and exiting the community. We are currently snowed in with 3ft of snow! They are stuck here in an 8 by 8 room (if its even that big). I decided they needed some dessert.

Prior to the snowpocalypse I got the ingredients at the store – chocolate cake mix, chocolate cook and serve pudding, containers. While snowed in I made the dessert. It is super simple – make the cook and serve pudding according to the directions then mix in the dry cake mix, stir and put on a sheet pan. I then made a buttercream icing and mixed in mini chocolate chips. Once the cake was cool I cut it in half, spread the icing on one half, sandwiched them together. The tough part was not the making but the travel to the guard shack! That took way more effort to go the ¼ to ½ mile there in 3 feet of snow. I met a few of my neighbors along the way which was nice. One lady was impressed and gave me some sodas to take them as well! Spreading the nice!

When I eventually got there two guards were pretty engrossed in conversation. They opened the door and I explained I brought them dessert to thank them and that someone else donated the sodas. They thanked me and that was that. They weren’t overly excited (but that’s because they hadn’t tasted them yet!)

Would I do it again?

Sure! When snowed in I have nothing but time so an hour to make the food and the trek over there (30 min or so) was not a big deal and I got quite the cardio workout! Everyone likes to be appreciated.

Cost: About $5-$7 because I had a few ingredients already at home

Effort: More effort was in the walking over than the baking

Time: About an hour with the cake, cooling, another hour for walking there and back and socializing with neighbors along the way.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Emily Day 8 BONUS!!!!!

Day 8: Made blankets for sick kids.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of Project Linus, but it’s a great program. Participants donate a blanket to Project Linus, and they give the blanket to a very sick child at a hospital who could use some comfort, and lets them know that someone cares.

Event: My mom had bought some big squares of fleece a while back, to make into blankets for Project Linus, but we never got around to it. So, with new enthusiasm, I located the fleece, and my mom, my brother, and I made three blankets out of the material.

Reaction: We just dropped them off at the fire station, (The Project Linus donation box is there.) so I won’t get to see the recipient’s reaction to the blanket. I wish I could, though!

Would I do it again? Yes! It was actually pretty fun making the blankets.

Cost: My mom bought the fabric so long ago. I don’t remember how much it costs.

Effort: My fingers were a little stiff when I finished, but nothing too strenuous.

Time: About an hour.

Emily Day 7

Day 7: Tried to pay for other people’s library fines.

Personally, I think the library is pretty awesome. Where else can you go for a huge selection of free books, movies, and music?

On the other hand, paying fines is not-so-awesome.

Event: I went to the library, armed with $10 and some slips of paper The idea was that the $10 would pay for the next few people’s fines, and the librarian could give them a slip of paper that explained about Project Nice and suggested that they try do something nice for someone else. Is this what happened?


After I explained to the librarian what I wanted to do, he said that he couldn’t because it would be unfair to the people who’s fines weren’t covered by the $10. I could see where he was coming from, but I was still annoyed that this wasn’t going the way I had hoped. The librarian did tell me that I could donate the $10 to the library, so that’s what I did instead.

Reaction: The librarian seemed kind of irritated that I didn’t know I couldn’t pay for other people’s fines. Hopefully, whatever that $10 went towards makes someone else happy, though.

Would I do it again? Probably not. I don’t want to anger librarians more than necessary.


Effort: Not much.

Time: 1 minute for me to explain my vision, and another minute for the librarian reject the idea.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Emily Day 6

Day 6: Gave the mailman brownies.

Mailmen in general are pretty great, and yet, we seem to take them for granted. They ensure we get our letters and bills (Though I’m sure many people wish they didn’t.) and magazines, regardless of snow, sleet, hail, rain, and so on. They’re probably freezing in the winter, and sweltering in the summer because their car (Is it a car? I really don’t know.) has that open door thing so they can put the mail in the mailboxes. So, I decided to show him my appreciation.

Event: Baked some brownies, and put some in a nice bag with a note that thanked him for making sure we got our mail even with all this snow. In the morning, I put the bag of brownies and the note into my mailbox.

Reaction: I checked the mailbox after I came home from school, and the brownies were gone.

Would I do it again? Definitely.

Cost: Nothing. I found the brownie mix at the back of my cupboard, and the bag was in my basement.

Effort: I had to make the brownies, and walk down to the mailbox. So difficult.

Time: 20 minutes to make the brownies.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Emily Day 5

Day 5: Gave pens to the Emergency Room.

Before my dad was admitted to the hospital, predictably, he had to fill out fifty billion forms. He didn’t have a pen on him, so he borrowed one from the front desk in the ER, and was given one that had a plastic spoon taped to the top so that people wouldn’t accidentally take them. Plastic spoons did not seem like the best possible choice for pens, and I figured hey, why not give them nicer pens?

Event: I unearthed some artificial flowers, and taped them to the pens with this floral tape (I’m not sure if that’s what the tape is actually called. All I know is that it is sticky and green.). Then I placed the pens in this cute little flower pot I found, and gave it to the people at the front desk when I went to visit my dad.

Reaction: I loved the woman at the front desk’s reaction. She looked so tired and hassled when I walked in, and when I gave the pens, she got this huge smile on her face. She asked me my name, and then as I was walking out the door, I heard her say to the other woman at the desk, “Look what Emily gave us!” I never would’ve guessed that pens could make someone so happy.

Would I do it again? Yes.

Cost: I found all the materials in the basement.

Effort: The hardest part was digging for the supplies.

Time: Ten minutes at most.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Emily Day 4

Day 4: Wrote my mom an encouraging note.

For the past week, my dad has been not feeling well. He went to the doctor, and after a ton of blood tests, it was determined that he was anemic. For those of you who, like me, are not a medical practitioner, that means that his red blood cell and hemoglobin counts are low, along with a bunch of other chemicals that I can’t pronounce, let alone spell. The doctors monitored his red blood cell and hemoglobin counts, and they became very low, like I’m-shocked-you’re-able-to-stand low. He was hospitalized today, and is getting a blood transfusion as I am writing this. Needless to say, my mom is extremely stressed out and very worried about her husband.

Event: I wrote my mom an encouraging note that reminded her that my brother and I love her and we have amazing friends and family who will help her through this whole situation.

Reaction: My mom was touched that I took the time to reassure her while everything was so hectic.

Would I do it again? Definitely.

Cost: It was free.

Effort: It was pretty easy.

Time: About 3 minutes. It wasn’t a terribly long note.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Emily Day 3

Day 3: Gave out heart necklaces to my students.

As a hobby/job, I student-teach two and three year olds at my dance studio. They are adorable (Most of the time, anyway. Their cuteness diminishes once they start screaming and crying because they got a purple sticker when they wanted a pink one.) and I thought, hey, why not give them a little something for Valentine’s Day?

Event: I went to the store to buy some heart necklaces, and gave one to all of my students.

Reactions: The kids liked the necklaces, and definitely appreciated any kind of present. The teacher smiled and told me that that was a nice thing to do. What made me laugh was that my two fellow student teachers actually were more excited about the necklaces than the kids. Apparently, they both can’t resisted shiny, red hearts.

Would I do it again? Yes.

Cost: About $8.

Effort: The hardest part was deciding what I should give the kids.

Time: 10 minutes (The shopping took the longest.).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Emily Day 2

Day 2: Gave hot chocolate to a firefighter.

My dad was driving me home from my ballet class, and we stopped at a Starbucks. In the Starbucks lot, there was a fire truck parked there. The fireman was helping a little girl climb into the passenger seat and showing her all the interesting aspects to a fire truck. I thought this was so nice of him, to take the time to let this little kid explore his truck.

Event: Gave the firefighter a cup of hot chocolate from Starbucks.

Reactions: At first, the fire fighter thought I wanted to sit in the fire truck too. Once I told him that I brought him hot chocolate, he thanked me with a big smile. The little girl’s family, who was there during this whole exchange, awww-ed (One of the hazards of being under eighteen and doing random acts of kindness. Adults tend to think it’s cute.).

Would I do it again? Sure.

Cost: About $3.

Effort: Minimal. It was more work for the person making the hot chocolate.

Time: 3 minutes.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Emily Day 1

My name’s Emily, I’m 14 and I live in Maryland. I chose to do Project Nice because it honestly seemed like a great idea. How many times to you lose faith in humanity when someone sticks gum at the bottom of a table at a restaurant, or when someone borrows a pen from you and just walks off with it? Imagine how much better the world would be with more people doing nice things for one another.

Day 1: Shoveled my neighbor’s walkway.

In Maryland, we are very ill-equipped for snow. If it snows six inches, the whole county all but shuts down. So, when it snowed twenty to thirty inches (The worst blizzard ever recorded in Maryland to date.), like it did yesterday, everyone was stocking up on food, buying shovels, and generally preparing for an Ice Age.

Arguably, the worst part of a snow storm is having to shovel your driveway afterwards. Shoveling a driveway, porch and walkway blanketed with twenty inches of ice and snow is no mean feat, and practically impossible for the elderly couple who live across from me. Especially considering that the husband has a serious staph infection and had to go to the hospital last week.

Event: My dad, two other neighbors, and myself shoveled their two car driveway, walkway, and porch.

Reactions: The woman who lived there opened the window and thanked us profusely, telling us how much she appreciated us taking the time to help them out.

Would I do it again? Definitely. If we hadn’t, I have no idea how the couple would’ve been able to get out of their house.

Cost: It was free!

Effort: A lot. I can’t remember the last time I was this tired.

Time: An hour and a half, but it was worth every minute.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lauren Day 7

Be the match!

The National Bone Marrow Donor Program, also known as Be The Match, describes their cause thusly (from their website): "We help patients afford transplant, find a matching donor and build a future as we advance medical research." You can actually take the first steps to joining the registry as a potential donor online.

Event: It's quite simple: you provide the relevant medical information they need to make sure you qualify to be a bone marrow donor, and if you do, they send you a kit in the mail for swabbing cheek cells. You follow the instructions in the kit and send it back. Having done this, I should be in the registry within five to six weeks. Once I'm listed, if I appear to be a match for someone in need of a transplant, I will go in for more tests to make certain. Once it's proven that I'm a match, I'll make the donation.

Reactions: Well, clearly there haven't been any yet from those directly affected, as I've only just signed up; however, I would like to mention that I find it kind of funny (also a little frightening) that everyone I've told thus far has seen fit to make certain I know how much this is supposed to hurt. Yes, I know. Thank you for reminding me.

Would I do it again? Ah, well, that's not really an option. I'd totally sign up to be an organ donor or to donate blood. Same thing? Sort of?
Cost: Free!

Effort: It certainly wasn't taxing.
Time: I'd say, all told, about an hour.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lauren Day 6

Nice roulette

Chatroulette, if you have never heard it of, is a website that connects you to random strangers with whom you can chat (via video with audio, video without audio, or just plain text). It is a dangerous and scary place to which many find themselves unable to resist returning.

Event: I decided to improve as many chatroulette experiences as possible by getting on there and just being nice. It is sort of the virtual equivalent of giving a random stranger a compliment.

Reactions: This was not my best idea. Aside from the disturbing sights to which one will inevitably be exposed on this website, there are three things you are most likely to find: guys looking for ladies, drunk people looking for laughs, and bored people also looking for laughs. This meant that if I did manage to maintain a conversation with someone, my display of kindness was fairly likely to be mistaken for flirting. It's really not the right environment for this sort of project. Still, one must report both successes and failures, for the good of future generations.

Would I do it again? Probably not.
Cost: None.

Effort: Quite a bit.
Time: A couple of hours, at least.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lauren Day 5

Help Haiti Heal

Nerdfighters probably already know about the Harry Potter Alliance's Help Haiti Heal project. Basically it was the most awesome way one group of people could possibly go about helping another. Details here: 

Event: I donated.

Reactions: I really have a knack for choosing goods deeds that don't allow me to see any of the reactions.

Would I do it again? You bet!
Cost: Thirty dollars. I am also good at breaking the five dollar limit...
Effort: It was quite simple.
Time: Perhaps ten minutes or so.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lauren Day 4

A sudden change of mind

I went in with every intention of paying for the drink of the person behind me at a coffee shop. (This was before Project Super Nice, or I would have followed through with that.) As I was standing in line, I started to think about all of the stories my sister had told me about her experiences as a former barista. Pretentious college students, arrogant professionals who treat the staff like their own personal servants at best, people who cut in line and demand to be served first because they feel they are just that important, people who throw their money at the barista carelessly rather than taking two seconds to hand it to them... the list goes on and on. Of course, every customer service job involves these kinds of incidents. It's just that I found myself thinking more about the baristas than the customers just then.

Event: I took the money I had planned on using and put it in the tip jar instead.

Reactions: I snuck it in, so I don't know.

Would I do it again? Yes.
Cost: Ten dollars.

Effort: Minimal.
Time: Maybe ten seconds.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lauren Day 3

Coffee for Soldiers

Almost every store, be it the supermarket or a bookstore or gas station, has some kind of charity they're supporting. Usually at the checkout counter there will be a sign out asking you to donate to their cause. I am forever telling myself I will donate next time.

Event: While checking out at a Borders, I was given the chance to buy a pound of coffee for troops. My automatic inner dialogue of procrastination started up, but then I remembered that this was the month of Project Nice. This is when the whole point to the project (for me, anyway) really sank in: if you find yourself thinking, "I should really do this", just do it. Forget about the reasons not to. It's that simple.

Reactions: Either the woman at the register was just really good at faking enthusiasm, or she really believed in this cause. She seemed pretty happy about it.

Would I do it again? Most definitely!
Cost: About eight dollars.
Effort: None!
Time: Maybe an extra minute to the checkout, if that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lauren Day 2

Free soda

Sometimes, the smallest bit of luck/random kindness can just completely make your day.

Event: I left money in a vending machine so that someone could enjoy a free beverage. Obviously, the cost of a soda is negligible- it's the surprise that was meant to bring cheer.

Reactions: Once again, I wasn't around to see the reaction on this one. 

Would I do it again? Yes.
Cost: A dollar.
Effort: Minimal.
Time: About two seconds.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lauren Day 1

Lauren is a Nerdfighter. Which means she is awesome!

Thank you to a stranger

I love people who are curious. I love people who see random graffiti, dropped notes, abandoned shirts, and so on, and wonder about them.

To show my appreciation of such people, I left a thank you card on the subway. It read: "Thank You... for being curious enough to read the inside of this card. Continue to be awesome. DFTBA" I then signed it Project Nice. I really hope someone curious found it...

Reactions: No idea! Hopefully good?

Would I do it again? Yes!
Cost: Nothing. I already had the cards.
Effort: Having the idea was the hardest part.
Time: Less than a minute.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Danielle Day 7

Day 7 – FairyGodmother Project

Donated three dresses and a pair of shoes to the FairyGodmother Project – 3.5.10

Like most people my age, I’ve been to several weddings in the past few years. I’ve also had the privilege of being a bridesmaid in three of my good friends’ weddings and therefore own three bridesmaid dresses. Now, let’s be honest – I’m not going to wear them again. Don’t get me wrong, they’re very pretty dresses and I was happy to buy them and wear them for the wedding. But I cannot imagine an occasion when I’m ever going to wear them again. So I started thinking that the dresses could have a second life as prom dresses.

I would like to state, for the record, that I think that proms are overrated. I skipped my junior prom because a good friend of mine was having her birthday party that night. I did go to my senior prom, but was unimpressed – it was just like a school dance with fancier food and a much bigger price tag. But some people really enjoy the whole prom experience and I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it would be to want to go and not be able to afford something to wear.

I did some Internet research and found the FairyGodmother Project (, which provides gently used formal dresses, shoes and accessories to financially disadvantaged girls. Perfect. My dresses could have a second life and some girls will be able to go to their proms.

None of the drop-off locations on the website were near where I live or work, so I emailed them to find out if there were alternate locations. Someone wrote back and gave me a PO Box where I could send them. So I packed up the three dresses and a pair of shoes (that I only wore once because they killed my feet) and sent them on their way.

None that I’ve heard.

Would I do it again? Sure

Cost: Almost $5 for postage. I had boxes and packing supplies on hand.

Effort: Minimal

Time: About 15 minutes for packing and going to the Post Office.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Danielle Day 6

Day 6 – Take My Seat

Gave up a seat on a crowded train – 2.27.10

I wasn’t initially going to count this one, but one of my pet peeves is how selfish people can be on public transit. I’m not sure if it’s specific to the Boston area or if people ridiculously rude elsewhere. So I’m including this more to make a point than anything else.

When riding public transit, I usually try to drown out humanity with my iPod and a good book. But that day, while riding the commuter train, I was knitting and people-watching. The closer we got to the city, the more crowded the train became. I’ve taken this train on a Saturday before and don’t recall it being this crowded. I blame it on the Celtics game (at least half the folks on the train were wearing Celtics garb). I watched people have to ask fellow passengers to move bags off empty seats so they could sit. I watched people climb over passengers in aisle seats because they wouldn’t move over. And I noticed that several people were standing in the back of the car.

A mother and young son came onto the crowded train and walked towards the back of the car looking for a seat. There were none to be had. As the train started moving, the little boy (he looked to be about 3 or 4) announced that he wanted to sit down. At about the same time, both the girl next to me and I offered our seats.

The mom was hesitant at first, but when we both got up and insisted that she take the seats, she and her son thanked us and sat down.

On a side note, the little boy cracked me up – he was showing off his Celtics jersey to all of the passengers and was climbing all over the seat so he could look out the window.

Would I do it again? Of course. I always give up my seat when other people need it more. Besides, I was getting off at the next stop anyway.

Cost: None

Effort: None

Time: Just a few seconds.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Danielle Day 5

Day 5 – Scarves for Charity

Knitted scarves for a shelter – 2.9.10 – 2. 21.10

I learned how to knit over Christmas break. At the moment, I only know one stitch and the only useful things I know how to knit are scarves. I made several scarves for friends and relatives and thought that perhaps someone else could use it more. My friend’s mother works at a shelter for women recovering from substance abuse and their children so, naturally, it sounded like a good fit.

I knitted two scarves – one was burgundy, knitted with a thin yarn and size 10 needles, and the other was charcoal grey, knitted with a thick yarn and size 17 needles. I even added fringe to the burgundy scarf – it was my first attempt at fringe. I dropped off the scarves with my friend, who gave them to her mom to bring in to work.


Would I do it again? I’ll probably do it again next winter. Maybe by then I’ll know how to make hats and mittens, too.

Cost: $4 for yarn – I bought it on sale.

Effort: Not as much as one would think. It’s gotten to the point where I can do the basic knit stitch without thinking, so I knit in the car (while my husband is driving) or while watching TV or while hanging with my in-laws, etc. It keeps my hands occupied and allows me to zone out.

Time: The burgundy one took maybe 8 or 10 hours. I don’t know exactly because didn’t do it all at once – I knitted it for an hour or so a day over the course of a couple of weeks. The grey one only took about 3 hours – I knitted it in one day while watching TV.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Danielle Day 4

Day 4 – Cookies!

Baked Cookies for my husband’s co-workers – 2.21.10

Earlier in the week, my husband’s boss, who raises chickens, gave us a dozen eggs – he does that from time to time. I don’t know what he feeds these chickens, but the eggs are huge and very, very good. As soon as I saw the eggs I thought – ooh, I gotta bake some cookies (I also thought – ooh, egg salad – but that’s beside the point).

I love to bake. And I love baked goods. And I think that pretty much everyone loves cookies. I mean, what’s not to love, right? And what could be better than using the eggs that hubby’s boss gave us to make some cookies for hubby’s office?

I baked up a batch of oatmeal cranberry white chocolate chip cookies on a Sunday evening and my husband brought them to work on Monday. Well, he brought half of them to work – I made a double batch so we could have some at home.

I got a thank you email from one of my husband’s co-workers – she wrote, “Thanks for the cookies!!! You are too sweet.” Another co-worker was joking around with my husband and asked if I was trying to bribe them so they’d help my department with anything we want (my husband and I work in the same university – I’m in the e-learning department and he’s in the technology department).

Would I do it again? Sure. I do love to bake. And I like it even better when baked goods leave the house so I don’t eat them all.

Cost: I could probably break down the cost of all of the ingredients . . . but it would probably take more effort than making the cookies. I already had all of the ingredients in house, so it didn’t really cost anything extra.

Effort: Average

Time: About an hour (I have a double oven, so that really cuts down on the bake time)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Danielle Day 3

Day 3 – Gave a Gift Card to a Homeless Man

Gave a gift card to a homeless man – 2.17.10

Around Christmastime my husband bought Dunkin Donuts gift cards for everyone in his office. Of course, he based the number of gift cards off of the number of desks . . . and counted himself. So he gave me the extra gift card and I figured that I’d give it to someone who could really use it. I put it in the back pocket of my purse (so I wouldn’t have to dig for it), planning on giving it the first homeless person I saw.

I was walking through Porter Square (Cambridge, MA) and saw a homeless man selling the Spare Change newspaper (it’s a local street paper to benefit the homeless – see for more info). Now, I do buy Spare Change from time to time, but I often don’t carry cash on me, as was the case that evening. Instead, I offered him the Dunkin Donuts gift card.

He smiled and thanked me. “No problem,” I told him. I started to walk away and he called me back. “How much is on the card?” he asked. “Five dollars. Sorry, it isn’t much.” He thanked me again and I went on my way.

On a side note, I felt a little guilty as I was walking away because I was heading to a café in a local bookstore to buy a $5 chai soy latte, whereas he was standing out in the street trying to collect money so he can eat.

Would I do it again? Sure

Cost: Technically, the gift card was worth $5. But I didn’t pay for it.

Effort: None, really

Time: A couple of seconds

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Danielle Day 2

Day 2 – Free Parking

Fed expired parking meters – 2.16.10

As someone who has paid my fair share of parking tickets to the city of Cambridge, MA, I know how they can totally ruin your day. Especially when the weather’s crappy.

It was a snowy day and I had a meeting on the other end of campus (I work at a university in Cambridge, MA and, no, it isn’t Harvard or MIT). After my meeting, on the way back to my office, I walked down Mass Ave and put quarters in expired meters.

I found 4 meters that had ran out of time and put $1 in each of them, bringing the time up to an hour.

Unknown. Though if I came back to my car and saw that someone had put money in my meter I’d be super happy. Actually, I’m pretty psyched any time I come back to my car and I don’t have a parking ticket.

Would I do it again? I see no reason why not

Cost: $4

Effort: Not much. I even stuck the quarters in my coat pocket so I wouldn’t have to take off my nice warm gloves.

Time: My total walk time was about 10 minutes and it didn’t really take more than a few seconds to pop quarters in a few expired meters.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Danielle Day 1

Quick Bio –

I’m a 31 year-old female who lives in a small town in north central, MA and works in Cambridge, MA. I don’t know that I classify myself as a shy person, but I don’t generally talk to strangers. I prefer to keep to myself and I tend to be quiet around people I don’t know well. I signed up for Project Nice because, well, it sounded like a good idea and I wanted to support my friend in her undertaking.

Day 1 – Helped a Woman Reach Something on the Top Shelf

Helped a woman reach something on the top shelf – 2.13.10

I’m not very tall. In fact, I think I’m pretty much in the middle of the “average” range. But I often have problems reaching items on the top shelf of many stores. I’ve been known to climb the shelves to reach items. Probably not the best idea, I know. But, really, what else am I supposed to do? And why do they put all the good stuff where you can’t reach it?

I was grocery shopping and noticed a small elderly woman a little ahead of me in the aisle, looking up at the top shelf. Immediately, I thought, “Oh, I bet she can’t reach something,” and walked over to help her. At the same time, she noticed me and asked if I could reach the bottle of peanut oil on the top shelf. “I’ve been waiting for a nice tall person to come along,” she told me. “Well, I’m not tall, but I’ll happily help you,” I replied. Of course, I had to go up on tiptoe to reach the jar, but I was able to grab it and hand it to her.

She gave me a big smile, thanked me, and we joked about how all of the good stuff is always on the top shelf. We parted ways and along with our shopping.

Would I do it again? Of course

Cost: Nothing

Effort: None, really

Time: A few seconds

Monday, May 3, 2010

Diane Day 7

TITLE: A New Charity

Date: March 3, 2010

Explanation of the act: There is a local charitable organization that I have been interested in getting involved in but have not actually made much of an effort to explore. It is a self-help organization, which provides temporary help for people in financial stress. It has a wonderful reputation and dedicated volunteers.

Event: Project Nice was a good opportunity to make myself familiar with this organization. I went to a local food store and purchased a variety of food their food bank. Then, I bought cookies for the volunteers to show appreciation for all they do for this particular community. I went there thinking that they would be as excited as I was with my gestures.

Reactions: Not what I expected, but poignant nonetheless. When I arrived, clients were already lined up waiting for food and clothes. They were young mothers, men and older women. I was a little uncomfortable sitting in my car observing this and considered going back later. However, a volunteer walked out the door and I decided to ask his advice. He took the food and when I told him the cookies were for the volunteers, he said “Thank you”.

Sometimes when you start out trying to do something for someone else, you learn more about yourself. It was one thing for me to conceptually understand what the organization did; it was another to actually witness it. It humbled me. So much so that I did not care that they did not make a fuss over my donation. Seeing those people standing there waiting for help broke my heart.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! Might even volunteer.

Cost: $40.
Effort: Shopping for the food

Time: 45 minutes to shop. 10minutes to deliver the food.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Diane Day 6

TITLE: A Small Diversion

Date: February 15, 2010

Explanation of the act: Sometime small diversions can help us cope with some major disappointments. I recently accepted a long-term substitute position for a pre-school teacher who was adopting a baby. Needless to say, she was beside herself with happiness. I met with her two times before she left to observe her classroom style. One of the things we discussed was how to teach a preschooler to cut correctly. In all honesty, teaching that particular skill is a challenge for me. She was going to out of the classroom for 12 weeks. I started one day earlier than expected. The job ended within 4 days.

Event: The teacher returned to the classroom within 4 days because the birth mother decided to keep the child. Needless to say, this teacher was very disappointed. I wanted to do something for her to show her that I valued her, but did not want to overstep my bounds. After all, she only met me twice and I was not part of her “family” of teachers. I thought about our conversation regarding teaching preschoolers to cut paper. I found a workbook that was dedicated totally to that topic. I bought it, wrapped it up, and brought it to her.

Reactions: She loved it! She hugged me and said that she thought the book was wonderful and would be a big help in the classroom. While I know that it was a small gesture and in no way can make up for her loss, for just a moment I think she knew that a stranger did care.

Would I do it again? Yes

Cost: $10. For the book

Effort: A drive to Barnes and Noble

Time: 45 minutes

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Diane Day 5

TITLE: Saving the Cashier By Being Observant

Date: February 15, 2010

Explanation of the act: Normally, when I am purchasing anything, I bring the merchandise up to the cashier, have it wrung up and be on my way. Do I watch what the cashier is doing? Never. Do I check my receipt? Never

Event: I went into a Hallmark store to buy wrapping paper and a card for a gift I was giving. For some unknown reason, I had a pretty good idea of what the items were going to cost. Probably because I had limited cash in my wallet and at some deep Freudian level I knew I had to be careful about what I was spending. As the cashier was ringing the items up, I noticed that she was not charging me enough. At first, she didn’t believe me, but as she looked closer, she realized she had made a mistake.

Reactions: She was grateful that I pointed it out to her. I’m not sure what would have happened at the end of the day, but at least she was not in a position to have to explain that she undercharged someone. In this economy, store managers are most likely looking at the bottom line carefully.

Would I do it again? Yes

Cost: If I had not pointed the undercharge, I would have had about 2 extra dollars in my pocket.
Effort: Being observant.

Time: 2 minutes