7 Ways To Spread Kindness Around NYC

Tis the season to be a little bit nicer, a little bit more giving, and a little more focused on others.  This may seem simple in terms of your actions to your immediate family and friends, but I say go further and spread that cheer through the city!  A little bit of unexpected kindness can go a long way, especially during the holidays.

I promise I’m not going to tell you to stand in Central Park with a “Free Hugs!!!” sign, (yeah, you’ve see them too?), but here’s a few super simple ways to brighten a random New Yorker’s day.

free-hugs-campaign-international-englandGo on out there and spread some cheer.

1. Accept the flyers.

You all know what I’m talking about…those folks standing in the middle of the sidewalk in the freezing cold handing out flyers for pubs and pedicure places that nobody really wants?  Don’t be a Scrooge, make their job a little bit easier and take the flyers this season.  (And if you’re worried about killing trees you can always turn them into scrap paper back at your office/apartment!)

2. Give up your seat on the subway.

To someone who is not elderly, disabled, or pregnant.  Because I’m going to assume you do that everyday, anyway, right?  Right??;-)  Trust me, an unexpected seat on a crowded train after a long day can do wonders for anyone’s mood.

3. Use their name.

At every grocery store and Starbucks and every other kind of retail environment people wear name tags which are so rarely utilized.  I remember my days working at a movie theater, and can still count the handful of really great interactions with customers buying popcorn that took the extra two seconds to look at my name tag and say, “Hi Jess, how are you?”, before rattling of their order.  I was so shocked for a moment it was like, “whoa, stalker, how do you know my name?!”  But then I was happy:-)  Real interactions go a long, long way.

4. For a job well done, let people know.

If you receive extra great service at a restaurant (or anywhere!), don’t just think in your head, “wow, you’re really the friendliest waitress I’ve ever met in this city!”  Tell them!  Or go the extra mile and tell the manager how rockstar they were.

5. Donate a few dollars to the neediest kids in the city.

I’m on the Young Leadership Committee at a great organization called the Pajama Program, which promotes literacy (so important!), but also reaches some of the city’s forgotten kids…ones in shelters and group homes.  We aim to get a pair of pajamas and a book to as many of those kids as we can for the holidays, and you can easily donate to our holiday campaign here.

6. If you have a stocked up Metrocard, swipe someone in who’s asking.

Ok, pay close attention to my wording (I would hate for the MTA to come after me with handcuffs;-)  I didn’t say Unlimited Metrocard (cause I guess that’s illegal?), but if you have one stocked up with extra money and someone asks for a swipe, let em’ on through.

7. Buy the person behind you in line their coffee. 

On road trips when we were little, my mom would often tell the toll booth person that she wanted to pay for the car behind her, too…just as a random act of kindness thing.  I was trying to think of a NYC equivalent and was all “oh, coffee shop!”  Now, I totally get that there’s a fine line between being holiday happy and being totally creepy with this one…so use your judgement.

Would love to know…how do you spread holiday cheer throughout your city?

By: Jessica Tiare Bowen

Photo Credit: 1


  • Tamara says:

    Oh yes about the flyers! I get it.
    I paid for the car behind me at the drive-thru last week and when I went back for a coffee yesterday, the guy recognized me and told me that it started a chain reaction of nine people doing it in a row. So cool! People were awesome.
    By the way, if you see an adorable little girl in a red peacoat and her daddy walking through NYC tomorrow, say hi. That’s part of my family! The sick two-year-old and I are staying up in New England.

    • Used York City says:

      OMG, I LOVE that you had such a huge drivethru reaction, Tamara, that’s seriously amazing! You should blog about it:-)

      And I am crossing fingers I spy your adorable family! I hope your little two year old feels better! xo!

  • Mike says:

    I’ve always called people by the names on the nametags since I worked at McDonald’s in high school! I also blog that way…it makes it soooooo much more personal and friendly that way. IMO. I love paying it forward all year round and December is the same for me though it’s my least favorite month of the year, Jessica. I think it all just comes down to being nice and throwing out some cheer. You have no idea how much a person may need to hear that in their day how good it will may you feel for saying so/doing whatever kind gesture. AWESOME post, my friend!! :) Speaking of friendly…you are one of the kindest bloggers out there :)

    • Used York City says:

      SO true, Mike, it’s super important to pay it forward all year, not just at the holidays. Great reminder! You always have such positive and uplifting comments to make even via the internet, so I’m sure meeting you in person has an even huger effect! Keep spreading the cheer, our friend!:-)

  • Love this positive and heart warming post especially about the giving to needy kids!

  • Heather says:

    Another good one is to pay the toll for the person in the car behind you (assuming you’re not in an EasyPass lane). I have a friend who does this regularly on the Penn Turnpike and I can only imagine how happy it makes those lucky enough to be behind her!

    • Used York City says:

      Totally! I certainly would be happy as a clam to be in that car…especially the tolls being what they are!;-)

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