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#26acts of kindness: Nebraska woman spreads good will one dollar at a time

Shauna Groenewold

After covering the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., NBC News’ Ann Curry wondered what could be done to ease the national suffering over the loss of 26 children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary. Why not, she tweeted, commit to doing one act of kindness for every child killed there? People responded – and wanted to up that to 26 acts of kindness for every child and adult lost at the school. Now people around the country are committing random acts of kindness – connected through the hashtag #26Acts (#20Acts and others are also trending). Get inspired: You can start your own acts of kindness right now.

Shauna Groenewold, the Web administrator for the state Department of Education in Lincoln, Neb., found out about #20 acts on Twitter, where she says she gets most of her news. Not knowing what she could do to help victims of Sandy Hook, it seemed like a great way to spread some good.

“I noticed that Ann Curry offered a challenge for these acts of kindness, and I think everybody feels helpless, and it feels like something you can actually do to make you feel not so helpless,” Groenewold said of wanting to participate in #20acts.

And the gesture Groenewold settled upon was a simple one: Attach a Post-it note with a victim’s name and #20acts to a one-dollar bill and distribute them to various charities.

“I could go around to my local community to the different buckets we have and give a dollar and it would make me think about that one person, even if just for a little bit. My goal is every place I see one, stop and put the dollar in, and focus on something good and not bad,” Groenewold explained.

And like so many people hoping to help any way they can, Groenewold didn’t set out to do her random acts of kindness in the hopes of getting any recognition. “I don’t know if the people who count the money will notice it (the Post-It) but it was kind of more for me. The money will help them some, but it was more for me to take a moment and think about every individual person that was a victim.”

Already, Groenewold’s kindness is paying off, and spreading smiles at a time when it’s been tough to find things to smile about.

“I put a dollar in a bucket last night, and I thought I’d be really sad, but I was happy,” she said. “The guy who was the ringer at the bucket said to me, ‘You have the most beautiful Christmas smile!’ I thought I could tell him what I was doing –I didn’t. But I’ve never had anyone react to me putting a dollar in a bucket before like that. So it’s already been a cool experience.” 

Related stories:
#26Acts of kindness you can do right now
Inspired to act: #26Acts of kindness to honor those lost in Newtown, Conn.

There are many questions about Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but one being asked by just about everyone is how to best honor the victims. In Newtown and across the country, random acts of kindness are being performed in the memory of each person lost. NBC's Andrea Canning reports.

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