Acts of Kindness Shouldn’t Be “Random”

Officer Larry DiPrimo gives boots&socks in NYC Nov 14thBy Denice Rutherford

Probably everybody has heard of and seen this touching picture of New York City police officer Larry DiPrimo giving a new pair of winter boots and socks to a homeless man in Times Square on November 14th, unaware his picture was being taken.  Watching this November 30th segment of the Today Show about this “random act of kindness” was heart-warming, but also really annoying in one way.

I am not saying I am the best, most helpful person in the world but I do believe in karma and that what goes around, comes around.  In a “starter” home neighborhood we lived in nearly 10 years ago, when it would snow I would shovel our sidewalk, then go over and shovel for the neighbors because she had bad elbows and his knees were bad.  It took well over 6 times of me shoveling and people asking why before anyone actually helped me shovel for them. The question everyone kept asking?  “Why are you shoveling their driveway?”

Boy, does that question make me mad.  Why?  Because I didn’t know I needed an excuse to be neighborly and lend a hand.

Our present neighbor’s wife passed away this year and I started going over to help take care of his pups and horses and yes, clean the house because he is very busy trying to keep his small business afloat.  And I’ve been bringing over dinner once or twice a week because he can use the help.  Guess what?  There was that question again from around the neighborhood: “Why do you go over and do all that?”  My answer is “Why not?  Why don’t you?”

Why do people ask that?  Why is it so rare that people find ways to help their fellow man and don’t expect anything in return?  I wish more people did it as a regular habit.  Do you know what a great community we would all have if we were more eager to help in the neighborhood?  I LOVE seeing the smile on someone’s face because you just show up and do, not because they asked but because you wanted to…well, to make a difference…to them.  And in the long run, I think I get the most out of it…from helping.  It makes my heart feel warm, it makes me smile, it makes me a better person.  Someone I want to be, someone I want my kids to be.

So, I think everyone should pay it forward and plllllease don’t ask “Why?” …but maybe “Can I help too?”


(photo credit)


About Necessary and Proper

Jeff believes in the Individual's ability to excel when liberty and freedom of choice are protected. Also believes in the Community's ability to take care of the vast majority of its own issues and needs when the federal government leaves the Community's resources and sphere of control alone. State and local choice produce better results than centralized federal control.
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24 Responses to Acts of Kindness Shouldn’t Be “Random”

  1. Yes! That is what generosity looks like.


  2. I’m not quite sure what it was that upset you….the fact that the officer gave up his boots or the fact that it received extra attention as something special?

    My next comment….depends on your answer…:)+++


    • Thanks for your question. The answer is closer to the second of your choices.

      “Upset” is too strong of a word. What indirectly “annoyed” my wife was that the media was hyping it as a “random act of kindness” and “remarkable.” At the 3-minute mark in the Today Show video, the host begins asking a series of questions around the theme of “What made you do this remarkable act?” But the officer probably does these things fairly regularly…which is a philosophy Denice and I believe in fully. Her point was that if more people would do what Officer DiPrimo did on a regular basis (not “randomly”), then our communities and neighborhoods would be so much better places, consistently. If Officer DiPrimo’s act was usual, instead of unusual, America could easily & quickly be a better place.

      BTW, the officer didn’t give up his boots…he selflessly bought a pair of boots and socks for the man with his own money.

      – Jeff


      • Agreed.

        The reason I asked for clarification is that, not in this case, but sometimes there can be a different way of looking at it.

        I used to own some businesses on the wrong side of the tracks and on occasion we had people soliciting our patrons for money. I don’t mean to sound cold hearted or mean-spirited, but what I used to tell the patrons was that if they had extra money my clerks worked hard and unfortunately i could only pay them what the business could support so why not give them the extra money as they had needs as well.

        Don’t know if you understand my thinking, but just thought it might provide a different perspective.


  3. bullright says:

    Interesting story, jeff, as if there has to be a real good reason to do it. The why would bug me too. Isn’t it self evident….why??? Do they need an interpreter too?

    But to that story. Wow, I just now read an update piece in the Post. Then saw your story. He [the homeless man] comes from a nice family. They say he’s been indigent on and off since the 80’s. Other family members out of the area say their home is open to him and he knows it. The kicker is that now no one can find him, even chief Ray Kelly. So everyone is speculating, blaming the family, blaming possible violence, blaming the new boots etc. So, other than ask why, I guess people do do something else: blame.


  4. bullright says:

    Incidentally, good on you. It’s your decision to do it. (that’s the way I look at it…I’ve been known to indulge myself occasionally too 🙂 ) Its sort of like going out and asking workmen WHY they’re fixing the road? Why do people willingly run into burning buildings. Why would anyone stop to help fix a flat, or open a door for a lady…regardless what she looks like? Next time, maybe ask why they need/want to know? Do they have a good reason for that?


  5. Steph says:

    I loved this post! I think Denice has just solved the conservative dilemma regarding the poor/downtrodden. Be kind and give because it’s the right thing to do. These acts of kindness inspire us all! Thank you for the encouragement to get out and DO!

    – S


    • Thanks Steph. This is Denice. I always say “You could do nothing, or you can do something and make a difference.”
      Here’s one of my favorite TV commercials:

      – Denice


      • Steph says:

        I love it! Thanks for sharing. Wouldn’t our world be amazing if it was like this? It would be an upgrade if people merely looked at each other in the eyes and smiled for starters! The world needs to hear your message, Denice! Have a great day. 🙂


        • Steph says:

          Yesterday at Winco an elderly war veteran (he had the hat on) and his wife were checking out ahead of me. They left bagging their groceries to go one aisle over and help a man in a wheelchair bag his. So I bagged theirs. Please tell Denice I thought of her and “not so random” acts of kindness. She inspired me!


  6. “There was that question again from around the neighborhood: “Why do you go over and do all that?” My answer is “Why not? Why don’t you?””

    Wow, what a great quote. That’s an excellent thing to keep in mind. I enjoy your blog a lot.


  7. laurabarnesmiller says:

    Denice, thank you for writing that! I feel the same exact way as you. A few years ago at a doctors appointment in Miami, I was amazed at the attitude of the people in the filled waiting room. An elderly man walked in, barely able to stand, all seats were full. Not one man stood up and offered his seat. Instead, I did. Many people are very selfish today and only think of themselves. You are an inspiration without even realizing it! Keep up the great neighborly acts!


    • Denice says:

      We took a family vacation and were on the bus coming back from the amusement park. The seats were full of men, woman, and children. On walks a large amount of people as the bus driver let them on because it was raining and there is places to stand and hang on. A woman walks on and she has 2 young kids she is carrying. I noticed her and immediately gave her my seat. I could not believe that I was the only one to stand up and offer. See? It made a difference to her and I think…or hope, when people got on that bus the next day, I hope they made a difference to at least one. Just remember, you get something in return. You get a great feeling in your heart. It can be you saying to a woman in the grocery store who just had a baby and everyone comments how cute the baby is. Try telling the mother how great she looks and watch her eyes light up and how happy she gets. I LOVE IT!!


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  11. stuartart says:

    I think people ask ‘why’ because they feel guilty and you are the cause. They feel uncomfortable that someone else does something they are not prepared to do. This is very inspiring for anyone thinking of doing more of this. I certainly will be. Thanks, and keep it up. I have a home study program called: ‘Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life’ and I decided to give away 26 places for free as part of my acts of random kindness. There are still 7 available if anyone wants to partake. I’ll be doing 48 more ARK for my birthday come May. Simply email me at stuart.young40@googlemail with RAOK in the subject line. (Only 7 left as of 21/1/13)


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