I decided to start my international acts of kindness in Liverpool, England, by giving away donuts—something small to get going.
I bought two dozen donuts at Krispy Kreme and plopped myself in the middle of the bus station. We were catching the bus to Edinburgh, Scotland, within the hour. As people walked by, I’d approach them and say, "Hi, there! I’m doing Random Acts of Kindness today. Would you like a free donut?
Some people said no (which is fine—after all, if a stranger offered me free food, I’d probably be a little creeped out, too). But some said yes—and many of them thanked me profusely. Among them were a few of the people working the bus stop. It was wonderful to see how that little donut put a smile on their faces and turned a Monday into a great day. I also gave a handful of donuts to a group of people working at a rental car center, who were immensely grateful for the sweet treat in the middle of their workday. A Peruvian family was waiting in the bus station and took some donuts, as well. We chatted for a while because I’ve studied abroad in Peru and it’s easily my favorite place I’ve ever been. They live in Germany now, and their English wasn’t great, so we conversed in Spanish for a while. They were very interested to know why I was giving away donuts for free.
But perhaps the best receiver of the free donut was one of the first people who took one—a Scottish man named Philip, who’s probably old enough to be my father. He laughed when I approached him and offered him the donut, but gladly took one. We visited for a while and found out we were on the same bus to Edinburgh, so he sat near us. He told us some of the best sites to see and gave us tips for our travel through Scotland, even teaching us how to say some of the Scottish words that are a tad difficult to say (Edinburgh, for instance, is pronounced more like Edinburra).
When we arrived in Edinburgh, we were a bit lost. We had a 20-minute walk to our hostel and confusing directions to follow, so Philip offered to walk us there—even though it was out of his way.
"I’ve traveled a lot, so I know how important it is to have help from locals and find your way," he told us. "And this is your first impression of Scotland—I want you to know how hospitable we are!"
I’ll be honest, we were both a bit nervous at first to accept so much help from a random man. But he had been a recipient of my random act of kindness, so we decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. I’m so glad we did. When we arrived at our hostel, we exchanged contact information. He told us to get in touch with him if we needed anything and offered to meet up with us at our next stop, Glasgow.
"Thank you for helping us out," I said.
"Well, it was all because of that donut you gave me," he responded.
Vanessa Daves is a recent college graduate and a RAKtivist who is spending three months traveling the world. Iris Telehealth is sponsoring her random acts of kindness throughout the summer in the places she travels. When she returns back to the United States in the fall, she will be marketing coordinator for Iris Telehealth. Learn more at iristelehealth.com/love.