Birthdays should be celebrated. That's one of my steadfast rules in life. A dear friend's recent birthday reminded me that we can celebrate with more than a party, or a big fuss, as my dad would call it.
Not surprisingly, he's not a fan of the surprise party.
In the days leading up to her birthday Saturday, Janelle asked her friends to plan to do a random act of kindness. This could be anything from taking out a neighbor's trash to buying a coffee for a stranger in line at Starbucks.
Make that a Venti sugar-free double shot soy vanilla latte.
On Facebook, Janelle's friends were all over the kindness. The saying goes that it is contagious, and Janelle's birthday proved it.
A gal named Marci added to a donation box that supports disabled orphans in Vietnam, many who are disfigured from the effects of Agent Orange. She also donated food to a correctional work center. Janelle's friend Jinger from Leonard, Okla., said she pulled over and helped an elderly rancher change a tire.
Which reminds me, I really need to have my dad show me that drill again.
In Dallas, Tess and Isla gave a homeless person a hot meal on Saturday. In Amarillo, Ginger and Carla volunteered for the Martha's Home Christmas Lighting Project in Amarillo. Martha's Home provides homeless women and their children with shelter and support while helping them become self-sufficient. Ginger collected lights and had $200 in cash to start buying presents for the moms and kids.
We need more Gingers in this world.
Maggie and the kind volunteers at Colorado Animal Rescue (CARE) handed out free pet food at the Glenwood Springs Mall Saturday. In Rifle, Hannah and Bella gave presents to Toys for Tots.
Katy gave free lessons to a group of dance camp girls whose parents are normally unable to pay for classes. The dancers responded with a nice note that read, "Thank you for teaching us the character dance today. We learned that even hard things can be 'all for the best.' We had a blast.'"
If I've learned anything in life, girls, it's that adversity has made me stronger.
Another friend with the same name, Katy, noticed a bag of canned food outside her neighbor's door that needed to be donated, so she took it the food bank in honor of Janelle. The Langhorst family also collected canned food for our local food bank. And a fellow named Trent cleaned out his closets and donated all the clothes he collected to the women's abuse shelter.
The random acts of kindness didn't stop there.
Janelle's aunt made dinner for the family of one of her students who had recently undergone surgery that left her wheelchair-bound with difficulty moving her arms or speaking. Janelle's young cousin Brecken gave $6 of his own money to families in need to buy Christmas presents this year.
Don't we all remember how far $6 goes when you're a kid?
Noni paid for someone's free car wash at a gas station and bought a stranger Powerball tickets. One of Janelle's friends in L.A. took four bags of clothes and shoes to Goodwill to clothe the less fortunate. Kathleen randomly gave me some cash so I could buy new coats for Saturday's Comedy for Coats donation drive at Steve's Guitars in Carbondale.
Two little girls will be pretty in pink this season thanks to her generosity.
Of course Janelle couldn't wait to spend her birthday helping others. She and her boyfriend, Gus, made chocolate chip cookies for neighbors and dropped them off at their doorsteps anonymously. They left baggies of quarters at random coin laundries and delivered goodies to the Sunnyside Retirement Center.
They also filled plastic eggs with toys and prizes for kids to find them at the playground. And they donated to a friend who is helping a local family in need celebrate Christmas - arranging the tree, decorations, gifts, etc.
All of these random acts of kindness were made possible because Janelle Rhoton was born on Dec. 1.
For this, we should all be very happy.
-"April in Glenwood" appears every Wednesday. April E. Clark will be collecting canned items for Lift-up at Friday's April Clark Show Holiday Extravaganza at PAC3. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.