Random Acts of Kindness -- Pass Them On

Since 9 a.m. this morning, Michael Chase and two kindness-cronies have been brightening people's days throughout Southern Maine. Chase, who founded and runs The Kindness Center in Biddeford, was joined by Tracy Chaplin (a neighbor) and Michael Hallahan (his brother-in-law) in his 24-Hour Day of Kindness, which has so far consisted of: handing out flowers and balloons, helping strangers move a heavy washing machine, and visiting schoolchildren in Biddeford.

From left to right, that's Hallahan, Chaplin, and their leader, Chase.

For the remainder of the 24 hours, the gang plans to help out at the Bon Appetit Soup Kitchen in Saco, then make their way into Portland, where they will grill hot dogs and buy coffee for people all night long.

"Nine out of 10 people have been really receptive," Chase said in the parking lot of the Shaw's shopping center in Saco, where he distributed carnations, hugs, and smiles to befuddled passers-by.

"Can I give you a flower to make your day a little brighter?" Chaplin asked a little old lady, who graciously accepted the offering.

At first, people are wary, "wondering what you want," Chase said. But when they realize the kindness is being given for free, they appreciate it.

"That's wicked nice," said a woman named Norma, when Chase offered her a flower outside of a laundromat. "What can we do for you?"

"Just pass it on," Chase answered.

With tears welling in her eyes (literally!), Norma said: "That's inspirational." Then she and Chase hugged.

I plan to meet up with them in town later, so check back for more niceness news.

Like most people, Norma was wary at first.

But she really warmed up to the idea.
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