50 Good Deeds

Be an unsung hero, help your neighbour.

By Charlotte Bumstead
Have you ever been pleasantly surprised to come home on a busy Tuesday night only to find your driveway has already been cleared of snow? Or perhaps you are the one who snuck over to cut your neighbour’s lawn while he was at work, without leaving a trace of evidence behind. We’ve all felt the warm sensation of a good deed; how something as simple as a free coffee, mysteriously paid for by the woman ahead of you in the line at Starbucks, can brighten your entire day.

It’s the same tingly feeling that inspired Lisa Bendall to launch her blog—50 Good Deeds—five months ago, after a self-initiated challenge on her daughter’s seventh birthday. Her gift to her daughter was a lesson in the value of kindness and contribution to others. “In my mid-30s, I accepted that I just wasn’t going to be the hero who stamps out world hunger or finds a cure for cancer,” writes Bendall. “[However], what would happen if I did a good deed a day, every day, for 50 days? How would it impact other people – and me and my family?”

On day two, Bendall joined the bone marrow registry. Day four, she donated her pocket change to a panhandler. “Some days all I did was pick up litter, compliment a stranger on his garden or donate my Canadian Tire “money” to charity,” Bendall writes. “But, if you think about it, each of these acts had the potential to lead to something positive, something bigger.”

Fifty days later, Bendall discovered a more astute awareness to her surroundings, as well as to larger, global issues. Her accomplishments awakened a newfound sense of pride. Soon, her daughter was following in her footsteps; donating toys to a women’s shelter and surrendering 10 inches of her hair to charity.

“Part of the sociological explanation for why we lend a hand to people we’ve never met is that it creates a more connected society,” writes Bendall in her blog, which has also been featured in Reader’s Digest, as well as on CTV’s Canada AM, Canadian Living and CBC Radio. Bendall shares stories on other random acts of kindness, and offers inspirational advice from her personal experience. “I’m no girl guide. I’m just a regular person with a mortgage and chores and a job and occasionally extra normal family responsibilities. I know I am not ever going to singlehandedly save the world.” Nonetheless, she is headed in the right direction.