Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Time for kindness April 4, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


WE ALL HOLD WITHIN US the ability to express kindness. That needn’t come in a grandiose gesture, a well-thought-out plan. Rather, we can show kindness in random opportunities presented in everyday life.

Take such an opportunity several days ago as I waited with bread and a pound of butter in a grocery check out line. Behind me, a mom and her daughter stood, too, with a carton of strawberries. Ahead of us, a clerk scanned a young woman’s bottle of salad dressing, jar of spaghetti sauce, bag of meatballs and a hefty pack of bottled water. All of the items went into a shopping cart, which the 20-something customer would need to remove before my purchases went therein. If you don’t pay 25 cents to get a cart before entering the store, you don’t leave with a cart.

As I paid for my two items, I observed the young woman wrestling the case of water from the cart while simultaneously clutching the other purchases in the crook of her left arm. I envisioned the jar dropping, spaghetti sauce and glass splattering, shattering across the floor.

“Here, I can help,” I offered, reaching toward the clutch of groceries in her arm. She smiled, released her purchases to me and grabbed the package of water. “I’ll follow you,” I said, trailing her out the store. I limped and struggled to keep pace while dealing with back and leg pain. But I made it to her van at the far end of the parking lot and waited while she opened the door, placed the water inside, then reclaimed her other groceries. “Thank you,” she said, then repeated, her face flashing a wide smile.

“I’m happy to help,” I said and wished her a good day.

I don’t share this story to applaud myself. I share this story because it’s an example of how a stop at the grocery store gave me the opportunity to be kind. I could have chosen to simply watch the young woman struggle with her groceries. But I didn’t. I opted to help, to take the extra time to do what was right. I hope that you, too, find such moments to reach out with acts of kindness. In today’s chaotic and tension-filled world, where disagreements and meanness seem all too prevalent, we need to connect, to help one another. Whenever we can. However we can.

TELL ME: I’d like to hear your stories of simple kindnesses extended or received. Let’s celebrate the goodness in this world.




BONUS KINDNESS STORY: Days after I finished this post and before it published, I noticed my 80-year-old neighbor outside her car parked at the end of her inclined driveway. I was about to grab my shoes and head over to see if something was wrong. But before I could do that, a motorist stopped his car, backed and parked next to her car. Then I watched as a tall and lean young man pulled my neighbor’s recycling bin up her snow-covered, icy driveway to her garage. I doubt she knew him. He was just some guy passing by who saw a person in need and stopped to help. What a fine example of random kindness. This is what I’m talking about, spontaneous giving because we care about each other as human beings.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


30 Responses to “Time for kindness”

  1. indishe Says:

    Kindness is what we need to spread love

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    I do things like this all the time without thinking about it and I suspect others do as well. Sunday when we were coming out of the auditorium after a fabulous Easter service I saw a woman trying to get an elderly man out of a wheelchair to sit on a bench. I literally ran and grabbed his arm and helped get him seated and offered to do stay with him while she went to get the car. Simple, right? No big deal but they appreciated it and I would hope that someone would do the same for me some day when I need the help. Opportunities like this are all around us and once you start making the effort to do “nice” things they just become a part of everyday life. Just like you – I look for those opportunities to extend a hand. Not for me, not for accolades, but to make someone smile. Payment with a smile is the best payment.

  3. Brenda R Says:

    I also sometimes shop at our local quarter in the cart store. I try to always keep a quarter in my vehicle or have one in my pocket for the times I make larger purchases. On one of my recent visits I had neither! I dug a dollar out of my pocket intending to get change from the store or someone leaving if they had some. There was a man putting his cart back that I asked if he had any change- he said no just take my cart. I said no I can go inside and get change. He said no just take mine & left it there for me. I thanked him. I was able to pay his small kindness forward after I packed my things in my vehicle by offering the cart to an elderly couple carrying multiple reusable bags into the store. I asked them if they wanted my cart. They said they had their bags & don’t use a cart. I told them someone gave me the cart with the quarter in it and I wanted to pass it on. They then accepted it. I like to think that maybe they passed on the cart too! I have a t shirt that says “Choose to be nice “. It really is a choice we can make many times each day as we interact with people!

  4. Kiandra Judge Says:

    I love hearing these! Thanks for sharing. Last summer on a very hot day, I was driving through a mall parking lot when I saw a women with 2 young children in strollers with a sign that stated she had lost her job and was struggling. I pulled up to the stop sign she was at and handed her a couple of dollars which she thanked me for and then asked if I had any water. Unfortunately I didn’t so I drove off. I decided to go buy some for her and her children at the gas station across street. While I was driving back to her, I saw the mall security man talking with her and she was visibly upset. I drove back up and gave her the ice cold waters and all the cash I could find in my car. She was so grateful and blessed me for my trouble.
    I drove away crying for her situation and praying that she could find a better one for her and little children. I never saw her again. I always remember this verse when I have those kinds of encounters.
    “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
    Matthew 25

    • Oh, Kiandra, now I’m nearly in tears at reading this story. Bless you for your kindness. I would like to think that your genuine care for this woman and her children meant as much, if not more, than your cash and those bottles of water. Compassion brings hope and you gave her hope.

      That bible verse is perfect. Thank you for also sharing that.

  5. I do that kind of thing pretty regularly. It’s a rare when it happens in the reverse though. The world has a lot of nice people in it, just not enough. ❤

  6. Almost Iowa Says:

    I don’t miss city life but one of the things I always liked about snow days was running up and down the streets with my friends helping to push out cars that were stuck in the snow.

    It was like a habit.

    And a few years ago, when an old friend came down to visit, as he frequently does, we went for a long walk with Scooter and came upon an elderly neighbor shoveling out the end of her driveway. The township plow had blocked it with a ridge of snow and she needed to get her husband to his dialysis appointment.

    Without a moment of reflection, we took her shovel and cleaned it out then gave her my cell number and said, “any time”.

    It’s just something you do.

  7. Kindness costs NOTHING & it’s such a beautiful thing, isn’t it?
    Just read a quote today, which I love: “We only RISE when we Serve others to help them Rise.”
    This is TRUER than True.
    Thank you for the reminder, Audrey.
    Random Acts of Kindness should not be a day….but a LIFETIME of Love, giving, & Rising. x

  8. Jackie Says:

    I often walk my 85 year old friend out to her car after church. Arm in arm adding any final words before she’s off to meet other friends for lunch. We always end with an “I love you”. We never know when it’ll be our last here on earth. I think we all have the “kindness factor” in us, we just have to look for opportunity to use it.

  9. Don Says:

    My wonderful wife (lucky me) has a habit of going to the electric company here where electric rates are high and paying some money usually about 75 – 100 bucks on one of our neighbors electric bill. She does this anonymously and during the winter months when daylight is in short supply and electricity is in high use. She says it’s the right thing to do when we have some extra bucks to help others with, she’s right on that!

  10. This. In a world where negative and polarizing media is prevalent and where social media allows ugly and mean comments and thoughts spread like wildfire, kind acts like the examples you give are what changes the world one moment and one person at a time. It’s where we still maintain our humanity and empathy.

  11. Littlesundog Says:

    What a great story! Just yesterday I had to run to Walmart, and they only had one checkout open. I didn’t wish to use the self-check as I had a load of produce which can be a pain at the self-check. The lady in front of me had a huge cart full of groceries, and a big smile on her face. She tried to make a little small talk with the cashier but the cashier seemed to be in a foul mood. The shopper moved on with that big smile and I took my place at the checkout. I too tried to converse with the cashier, but she seemed bent on misery. As I approached my car, I saw the woman with the big smile. I complimented her, and said it was a real bright spot so see anyone smile these days. Still smiling she said, “Well of course, dear, we have SO VERY MUCH to smile about, don’t we? And I have found it to be the best beauty secret of all!”. What a great lady. A smile really does light up our appearance and is the best and easiest way to communicate friendliness and caring.

    • Lori, thank you for sharing your story about this woman with the beautiful smile. We need more of her, more of you, in this world. Her response to you is encouraging, uplifting and joyful. What a great lady, indeed.

      This story made me smile.

  12. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    There is good in the world we just don’t hear about it often enough

  13. Bella Says:

    I think kindness has a form in a simple gesture of saying thank you to people who service us. They have to put up with a lot of demanding crabby people and perhaps appreciate being recognized for their work which often can be tedious. .

  14. How lovely to read about your actions, and that of the young man. Thank you 🌷

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