Helping out family members in need

In recent times I’ve heard plenty of stories of people suffering financial crises. One person who was made redundant approached the bank to renegotiate her mortgage, but was told there would be a fee of several thousand dollars. One of her siblings generously paid the amount for her.

Another woman faced losing her home to a mortgagee sale. An auntie dipped into her retirement fund to help keep up the mortgage payments, and loaded up a debit card to help pay her bills.

Isn’t it nice to know that some people are so generous to family members in need!

Helpful neighbour

A woman who lives alone writes:
“My neighbour was doing some work in his garden and noticed water seeping out of the ground along the boundary line. He investigated and found it was a leak in my water pipe. I was out at the time and came home to a note on my door saying what he had found and that he was out buying parts to repair it for me. He then spent about 2 hours fixing it! Very kind and generous.”

Secret Gardener

My friend Mavis looked out her window the other morning to find her unruly rose bushes had been expertly pruned. It turned out the phantom pruner was Margaret Liddell, who writes the gardening column for Urban Country. Margaret keeps an eye on a number of elderly people’s gardens, and when she sees they need some work, she appears unannounced and tidies them up secretly, like a gardening fairy.

This is truly a labour of love – love of gardens and love of people!


September 1st is Random Acts of Kindness Day! This is a wonderful excuse to be kind to a stranger or do some unexpected favour for a neighbour, friend or workmate.

RAK day was started in New Zealand in 2004 when Josh de Jong sat in a cafe watching an incident of road rage and thought how good it would be if a day was allocated for people to be nice to each other. He and friend Marshall Grey set up the RAK Foundation, aimed at promoting the day and distributing acts of kindness throughout the year.

For a list of possible things you can do on RAK day, visit their website And if being nice to a random stranger feels awkward, you can download a “You’ve been RAK’d” card to explain your bizarre behaviour.

Don’t forget to email me about any acts of kindness you experience, so that other readers can hear about them too!

Finders not keepers

Have you ever lost a wallet and then had it returned, complete with contents? It happened to me a few years ago while Christmas shopping. I went back to the shop where I thought I’d left it and was told a high school boy had taken it, leaving his name and phone number at the shop. When I rang, the boy returned it, including all my Christmas shopping cash. I can’t describe the relief!

Talking about this with friends recently, Alison told how she found a wallet while holidaying in Noosa, and returned it to the owner before he even realised he’d lost it.

But the most moving story was about a young American couple backpacking around New Zealand. The man’s wallet fell out of his backpack on the bus between Raglan and Hamilton and he thought it was lost for good. The couple were amazed when the bus driver turned up at the backpackers’ where they were staying and handed over the wallet. The driver had found it, figured out who it belonged to and, having heard them talking, realised they were staying at a backpackers in Raglan. He drove out there to return it in his own time, leaving this American couple with a very complimentary view of New Zealand hospitality.

Sharing cars

Recently I’ve heard of two families where certain members had the misfortune to have their cars out of action for a few weeks. In both cases it was cheering to see how other family members put themselves out to share their own vehicles, co-ordinating with one another and catching rides with friends in order to make sure nobody was left stranded.

A lovely example of social happiness in operation.

Even bureaucrats have a heart

Some government departments have a reputation for ignoring hardship, as they turn down applications for assistance. But sometimes staff members go the extra mile to try to help.

In one case I know of, staff in a government department did all they could to find ways to help a young couple expecting a baby, but because the couple were overseas students, they weren’t entitled to any benefits. A number of staff members dug into their own pockets to provide help – anonymously dropping money and groceries at the couple’s address for several weeks until a longer term solution was found.

So we’re all human – even those faceless bureaucrats!

Sharing Photos

Doing my bungy jump three months ago, I met a young woman named Lara. Lara had her father’s high-speed camera and took a multitude of action shots, which she promised to email me afterwards. When I didn’t hear from her, I presumed she’d lost my address.

It seems she had, but she must’ve remembered my workplace from our conversation. She looked it up and went to our head office, who redirected her to where I work. I was out at lunch when she arrived, but she left a CD with about 50 photos for me. Unfortunately she didn’t leave any contact details, so I was unable to thank her in person. But I’m very grateful for the thoughtfulness of someone who’d go to such trouble for a total stranger.

Financial relief in an emotional time

Recently a student friend of mine was devastated when her partner, who lives in another town, was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. The ensuing few weeks have necessitated a lot of travelling back and forth to be by his side, as well as many phone calls and texts to let people know of his progress. All this has added financial pressure on top of her emotional burden.

Fortunately her friends have stepped up, one spontaneously topping up her phone by $50 and another offering petrol money to help with travel. Their generosity and support was greatly appreciated, especially as it came quite unexpectedly.

The Little Things

Let’s not forget to notice the little things that people do for one another every day. Here are a few things I’ve witnessed people doing for each other recently:

Buying lunch as a thank you
Making coffees for workmates
Baking a birthday cake
Preparing a meal for friends
Organising a farewell party
Giving away fruit and homemade foods
Paying compliments
Lending a listening ear
Giving waterproof pants to someone who had to bike in the rain