The CICOA Blog

Just Do Something Kind

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There is so much to love about the holidays. Family gatherings, parties, music and food, of course. So often, though, there is so much going on, we find ourselves running ragged racing from one event to other, stressing about what to serve our guests or the gifts to buy. This month I’m encouraging you—and everyone I know—to take a breath, forget about your to-do list, and do something kind for someone else.

Volunteers for the Betty Sell Memorial Thanksgiving Dinner prepared food at Chef for Hire.

Volunteers for the Betty Sell Memorial Thanksgiving Dinner prepared food at Chef for Hire.

I’ve been thinking more about acts of kindness since Thanksgiving. It all started with the annual Betty Sell Memorial Thanksgiving Dinner, which for the past 10 years, has involved Barb Sell and an army of volunteers roasting turkeys and making all the trimmings. On Thanksgiving Day, they serve meals at the Broadway United Methodist Church and also deliver hot meals to homebound CICOA clients.

Only this year, the dinner almost didn’t happen. The church kitchen was damaged in a fire and couldn’t be used. When Chef For Hire heard the meals might be canceled, the Indianapolis company stepped up and offered its commercial kitchen.

Without that act of kindness, 125 CICOA seniors would not have had a hot meal on Thanksgiving.

This inspired me, as do all the acts of kindness I see and hear about at CICOA. Employees and volunteers donate their time to take holiday baskets to seniors. They donate time to help make houses safer. They  call or visit homebound seniors. Routinely, I hear volunteers say they feel like they are getting back as much – if not more – than those they are helping.

Being kind improves your mood.

Yale University School of Medicine did a study a few years ago that showed simple gestures of kindness had a powerful stress-busting effect. These could be little things, like offering to help someone or even just holding a door open. What’s more, the study found that when people were nice to others, stressful events didn’t bother them nearly as much.

I am often thinking about how nutrition can impact mood, stress and overall well-being, but this holiday, I’m also focused on acts of kindness. We all can’t open our kitchens to make meals for 125 strangers, but we each can do small things that will make others feel better, and put us in a better frame of mind, too.

If you have an elderly neighbor, stop by to say hello. Just a 15-minute conversation can make a world of difference for someone who’s lonely. If you know someone who lost a loved one this year, send them a note to let them know you’re thinking of them. When you’re out shopping, hold open the door for others, instead or charging through. If a friend, co-worker or neighbor is struggling, give them a gift certificate for a dinner out.

I’d love to hear about your acts of kindness this holiday season. Consider sharing them on our Facebook page at