10/12/2012 01:15 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Acts of Kindness: Generous Surprises You Can Try Today

By Joan Tupponce

Here are a few of Patience Salgado's stealth-kindness missions which anyone can duplicate in her own neck of the woods.

Patience Salgado, master of the small act of generosity, is making the world a friendlier place.

On her popular "Kindness Girl" blog (kindnessgirl.com), Richmond, Virginia, mom Patience Salgado catalogs her good deeds -- and encourages others to carry out their own. She places $5 Starbucks gift cards on bus stop benches, spends the first day of school writing chalk messages on campus sidewalks ("Don't be shy, we're all new friends!"), and has even staged a free cotton candy drive-through. The effect can be staggering: "People just melt," Salgado says.

But her work isn't all sweetness and cheerful slogans. In 2010, when a hate group announced plans to picket local Jewish and LGBT organizations, Salgado helped found Pennies in Protest, urging residents to donate to the organizations being targeted. In one week, they raised nearly $14,000. (She also sent the hate group a note to thank them for inspiring such generosity.)

Salgado first learned kindness as a child -- "We delivered meals, we visited hospitals; that was just who my parents were," she says -- and now she's passing it on to her own four kids. Their favorite guerrilla goodness mission is an update of the old "ding-dong ditch" prank. Instead of ringing a stranger's doorbell and running away, Salgado and her brood leave a gift before they flee the scene. Often it's flowers -- though, says Salgado, "we've left actual Ding Dongs, too."

Try one of Salgado's stealth-kindness missions.

Acts Of Kindness