Centerville woman has an idea for your New Year’s resolutions. Try more acts of kindness.

“There is beauty in being kind.”

Walt Whitman

Our December snow storm provided a golden opportunity for folks in the Miami Valley and around the country to show up for others without being asked. And many did show up – whether it meant plowing driveways and shoveling walks or checking on elderly neighbors to make certain they were OK.

Those small acts of kindness are no surprise to Anne Sheehan, the Centerville woman who, since 2019 has been known as “The Kindness Lady.” Her message was reinforced recently when Steve Hartman hosted “The Gift: Kindness Goes Viral.” The CBS correspondent introduced us to a number of everyday heroes who are changing the lives of others through their acts of kindness. With the aid of an MIT professor, Hartman also documented the significant difference it could make in the world if each person who experienced one kind act paid it forward by offering two kind acts to others.

How Sheehan got started

For Dayton’s Kindness Lady it all began when she visited The Villages in Florida and learned about two men — Joe Santoro and Lindsay Collier — who were starting a group called the Acknowledging Acts Of Kindness Club. The idea was to show appreciation to someone who has done something kind for you by handing them a printed “Kindness Card” of appreciation.

The card reads: “Thank you for your positive attitude and kindness. To promote a culture of kindness please pass on this card.”

“It resonated with me that it was something our community and country needed — more kindness to one another,” Anne says. “So I contacted them and asked if I could use their logo and start this in Dayton, Ohio.”

Her project officially launched at the beginning of August, 2019 when Sheehan began distributing the cards free-of-charge to anyone who wanted some. She even covered the postage for mailing them.

Soon we began writing about her in Thursday’s Make a Difference column. “Once your article was in the DDN I was swamped with requests for the AAOK cards, both for individuals and groups– along with a pediatrician and some businesses,” she remembers. “The tragedy in our Oregon District had occurred on 8/4/19, and many people referred to that tragedy when asking for AAOK cards. Cards went to schools, businesses, and many individuals.

Sheehan remembers receiving a personal note from a Dayton woman who’d requested cards. “Her note relayed how people were touched and delighted when she gave them cards and how great it made her feel,” Sheehan recalls. “That is how most people feel.” The woman had also requested more cards and included a check for $20 which Anne returned. “I don’t want to accept any money. I just want to get more cards out there!” she says.

Her goal that first year was to distribute more than 50,000 cards. By March of 2020, she was well on the way, sending cards not just throughout Ohio, but to Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, Florida, California, Washington State and Idaho. “This was all through word-of-mouth, the Dayton Daily News and YahooNews,” she says. Then COVID hit and brought that distribution to a halt, but Sheehan says the new year is looking brighter and she’s gearing up for 2023.

To help you get started, we asked The Kindness Lady to come up with some specific suggestions for 2023.

  • Make a family project to collect coins from now until February 13. Put the coins in a jar and donate it to a person or charity on Valentine’s Day.
  • Start a family project to make Valentines and some cookies for a neighbor or assisted living home or a shelter. Deliver on Feb. 14.
  • Tell your friends and family members what you love about them
  • Consider telling your family and friends to forget about gifts for your birthday and donate the amount they’d planned to spend to your favorite charity.
  • Forgive yourself when needed and move on. That is a kindness you give to yourself. No time for regrets.
  • When you are able to go for a walk, take a plastic bag with you and if you see any litter, just pick it up.
  • If you have the time, give a senior/someone homebound five free computer lessons so they can learn email, online shopping for groceries, and/or Zoom to keep in touch with family members.
  • Making soup or chili? Make a bit extra for someone you know who is alone or not feeling well.
  • Make a Valentine for your mail carrier, garbage men and newspaper delivery person.
  • Smile and say hello to people throughout your day. Open a door for others.
  • Reach out to senior citizens in your neighborhoods. See if they need anything. Spend time talking to them. If you’re picking up dinner, see if they might like one too. If the elderly have a pet, offer to walk their pet for them or pick up pet food.
  • If you belong to Costco or Sam’s Club, consider asking friends or neighbors if they would like to split the price of bulk items. That can be especially helpful to a family or couple who do not belong.
  • Deliver books and puzzles to seniors and others.
  • Offer to pick up medications at a drive-up pharmacy window for the elderly or offer a ride to their medical appointment.
  • Make a plan with teens in the neighborhood to be ready to shovel snow for those neighbors who cannot do it.
  • A small bouquet of flowers can cheer up anyone’s day. Do it for no reason.
  • Think of someone who, over the years, has influenced your life in a positive way. Perhaps it was a teacher or a terrific boss. Write and tell them how they have made a difference.
  • Keep in touch with your extended family if they do not live near you. Send some email jokes or funny videos. It cheers them up!
  • Children’s artwork cheers anyone up. Have your children make artwork for others or for a senior center or nursing home.
  • Invite someone who lives alone to go to a movie with you and your family. Take along someone who is disabled and can’t go on their own.
  • If you feel you should not interact with someone but want to keep in touch, FaceTime with them.
  • Whenever you see a service member, tell them “Thank you!”
  • Donate clothes and supplies to a shelter
  • Donate to a local food pantry.
  • Think about people with whom you’ve lost contact and send them a card or pick up the phone to call them. They will be thrilled!
  • Say “I love you” to your family everyday.
  • Write a personal thank you note to someone who has done something nice for you. Or give them an “Acknowledging Acts of Kindness Card.”

“Getting back to distribution of the AAOK cards will take time but I know it continues to be an important and necessary message,” says Sheehan.

Acknowledging Acts of Kindness project

To learn more about her Acknowledging Acts of Kindness project or to order free cards check out the website: There’s a form on the website on the “About Us” drop down selection and also on the “Blog” section.

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