Mom, son pay it forward with acts of kindness

School teacher Jammie Kimmel and son Noah, 8, have spent the summer performing random acts of kindness and they’re doing it on a budget. (Photo by Mindy Ragan Wood)

By Mindy Ragan Wood
Staff Writer

A Yukon mother and her son are spending the rest of their summer spreading kindness on a budget instead of on a vacation.

Jammie Kimmel and her eight-year-old son Noah have been giving away quarters at laundry mats, popcorn bags at movie rental kiosks and performing other acts of kindness in Yukon and Piedmont. Kimmel teaches Spanish at all three elementary schools in Piedmont but lives in Yukon.

“We made a summer bucket list,” Jammie said. “There are 150 items on the list, from ‘have a water balloon fight, wash the car, to flying a kite.’ One of the things that stood out to me was to complete a random act of kindness.”

Before the end of the school year Jammie and Noah had been the recipient of a random act of kindness at the McDonald’s near State Highway 4 and Northwest Highway. They pulled forward to pay for their drinks and discovered someone had paid $5 toward their purchase.
When she decided to try the summer bucket list, she recalled that instance and got to work on how to pay it forward.

The first idea was to tape a bag of popcorn at Redbox movie kiosks. She and Noah printed up a flier that read, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind. Please enjoy a bag of popcorn with your movie. We hope you will find a way to pay this random act of kindness forward.”

Next the duo taped quarters on vending machines near the movie kiosks and at laundry mats.

“Grammy gave us a handful of quarters,” Noah said. “That helped and we got to get some drinks too. We taped the quarters on a vending machine so people could get popcorn and a free drink with the movie.”

A member of the Piedmont Rants & Raves Facebook page posted about how much it meant to her.

“Whoever you are, you made me smile after a crappy, fighting-back-the tears kind of day,” Mary Truman wrote. “After three other stops on the way home, I decided to make another stop (even though I didn’t want to) at DG (Dollar General) for a movie to unwind and found this. I will definitely pay it forward. Love this town! Thank you!”

The response was not lost on Jammie and Noah.

“When my mother read the comment to Noah he started jumping up and down with excitement, pure joy that he had made someone’s day,” she said.

“It definitely made me feel happy,” he said.

Giving back is a virtue Jammie was raised on as her family always went out of their way to be kind to people in their neighborhood and community.

“We were pretty poor growing up, but my mom would take anyone in, or help them out,” she said. “I can remember my grandmother and I baking cookies and taking it to a neighbor. We were always involved in church activities, bake sales, things like that.”

The single mother said she is on a budget but that hasn’t stopped them from doing what they can.

Last summer the two spent summer days at Whitewater Bay, and when Jammie told Noah about the bucket list, she said he wasn’t sure how that made sense since money was tight.

Despite his skepticism, Noah said he was “surprised” how much fun he had completing the list and performing random acts of kindness.

The small gestures of kindness included painting rocks with inspirational messages, opening doors for people or paying a compliment.

Noah learned that their gestures prove the saying, ‘kindness costs nothing,’ is true.

“Kindness doesn’t cost two quarters,” he said. “Being kind is free. Holding the door for someone, smiling at someone, or giving a compliment is free and is kind.”

The small amount of money they have spent pales in comparison to the impact it has had on them.

“Just 33 cents to make someone’s day,” she said. “You can’t beat that kind of return on your investment.”

Despite receiving no feedback on their Yukon excursions, the two continue their mission in both communities. They plan to finish a few more items on their list including reading books to nursing home residents and donating extra pet supplies to an animal shelter before school starts.