Life can get us down sometimes, there’s no denying that. But as bad as things may seem, there always seems to be someone there to brighten our day. From footing the bills for food and plane tickets to providing sweet memories, these are some of the nicest things people have done for others.
#1 Special Friendship
When I was a kid, I met one of my grandmother's best friends. At first, I was super scared to approach him because he had a wheelchair. But after I got to know him, we instantly bonded. He was exactly 50 years older than me (same birthday) and also loved Harry Potter. During that summer, he would take me to see movies and treat me to ice-cream afterwards. Growing up, we were pretty poor, so those trips meant a lot to me. Looking back, we had a pretty special friendship. He was my best friend, my mentor and my role model for most of my life. He had a huge impact on my life and I never think I was able to thank him enough for it.
#2 Stranger in the Crowd
Several years ago now, I was hit by a car. Out of nowhere, a stranger sat with me until the EMTs arrived. I never even got his name. He left before the authorities got there. I looked for his face in the crowds, but I never did wind up seeing him again. That said, though, he helped keep me calm. I didn't feel alone.
#3 Food From Home
I talked to this dude who I barely knew after class during my first year in college. I told him that I lived alone and was eating cereal for the last two days in a joking manner because I didn't have time to go grocery shopping due to the exams. He brought me two plates of delicious butter chicken with rice the next morning. He said his parents ran an Indian restaurant, so he brought some for me. He told me I could ask for more whenever. That was the first time anyone outside of my family went out of their way to do a nice thing for me. It really touched my heart. Unfortunately, he dropped out a few weeks later, but I will remember him forever.
#4 Birthday Cupcake
I lost my mom in June 2006, one month after graduating from high school. I’m an only child. That August, I moved an hour from home to attend university. Without fail, in every class, we were asked what memorable thing we did over the summer. I spent my time telling people I had planned my mother's funeral.
One girl I happened to share several classes with ended up being my across-the-hall neighbor. That following January, she showed up at my door with a cupcake and a candle on my mom's birthday. Not a single person I was close to remembered, but she did. She held me while I cried and we stuffed our faces with cake. She stood up at my wedding as a bridesmaid several years later.
#5 Sweetest Memories
When I was about five, my mom was single and in nursing school. She had very little money and we lived in this tiny one-bedroom apartment. This elderly Greek man who lived in our apartment complex dressed up as Santa on Christmas Eve and brought me presents. I can still remember him saying, “ Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!” in that wonderful Greek accent. That was one of the sweetest memories of my childhood.
#6 Social Fund
I grew up in a middle-class area with very little poverty in my school district. It was quite common that parents would pay a certain amount into the "social fund" of the school so the few children with poor parents could come to school trips without a big fuss and especially without anyone explicitly knowing. All the parents had to do was to make a little X at the invitation and no questions were asked.
#7 She Saved Me
Someone consoled me in an airport bathroom when I was crying my eyes out at having to leave my husband behind in another country for who knew how long. She was a cleaner who just saw that I was crying and without a word, grabbed a giant wad of paper towels and handed them to me. She then guided me to a little seating nook and just sat with me until I got myself under control. She talked about the latest movies and how she hated all the new pop songs and just kept talking until I stopped crying. She saved me that day.
#8 A Lesson in Gas
I just started driving and maybe had my license for a week. I went to fill up gas for the first time and realized I never learned how to fill up a car. A guy saw me struggling for about 10 minutes and he walked over, pulled out his credit and showed me what to do. He also ended up paying for my gas and teaching me a lesson. I never got his name or anything.
#9 Surprise Party
When I was in high school, I got suspended for being near the principal's daughter while she was partying at school and not telling any adults. The whole thing was pretty messed up and had a lot to do with my dad being a teacher and not being a friend of our school’s administration. I missed my national honor society induction, my band concert, and my junior prom.
About a week later, feeling kind of bummed, my mom sent me out to get groceries. While I was there, she called and asked if I could grab some soda. I thought it was a little weird because no one in my family drinks soda, but I grabbed it anyway and headed home. When I got inside, my six best friends were all standing in my house wearing prom clothes with music playing, food and decorations everywhere. They threw me a surprise prom since I couldn’t go to the other one.
Sign Up For Our Newsletter
Stories that matter — delivered straight to your inbox.
#10 New Guardian
My best friend's mother saw that my home life with my dad was getting steadily worse. She went to Children's Aid to see about taking my brother and I in and becoming our guardian. She already had four kids of her own but still found room in her heart to take in another two teenagers. She fed and clothed me, paid for braces and expensive, proper-fitting bras. She treated me as an equal to her other children. If she hadn't stepped in, I have no idea where I would be today. She saved me. It would have been her birthday today actually, but she passed away two years ago.
#11 Leftover Meals
My parents would regularly starve me as punishment, as the food in the fridge was for "the good children" and not "the bad one." I'd survive off of school breakfast and lunch, and pretty much coast off of outdoor fruit on the weekend. My middle school friend, who would always bring lunch to school, eventually caught on when I broke down to a bully dumping my food tray on a Friday afternoon.
The next week, her mom apparently packed extra food and she just couldn't finish it. Same with the next day. And the next, and the next, until I moved at the end of my eighth-grade year. Even if I couldn't finish the food myself, I was given old Tupperware to take the food home in, so long as I brought it back to school. The starvation punishments stopped once I passed out in PE and my guidance counselor had a parent meeting to make sure the family wasn't struggling to buy groceries. The last leftover meal I got was a delicious slice of homemade cake — my friend's mom seemed to know it was a joyous day.
I’m safer now. I left home at 16 and never looked back. Also, I’ve had zero contact with my parents since. I keep in touch with my oldest sibling who was able to confirm that most of the toxicity had ceased, albeit the occasional narcissist move. I was simply the child called it, and my parents wised up when I left as I caused too much police attention.
#12 Reference Letter
I asked a colleague to be a reference for me for a new job. She wrote me a letter of recommendation that, 11 years later, remains one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me. All of the little efforts that I’d been putting in and getting no real attention for, she noticed, and mentioned in a way that made me feel so seen. Bless you, Nat. I don’t think anyone has made me feel so good about myself, ever.
#13 Crying From Happiness
After a really hard year, my two closest friends and my mom said they were taking me to London for my birthday. Bizarrely, they wanted to fly. Since I only lived in Liverpool, that seemed odd. It wasn't until the airport when I heard a security guard read the ticket as Liverpool to Barcelona that it clicked. They took me to the opera, the magic fountains and Las Ramblas. There are a million pictures of me constantly crying from happiness. It was just so kind to go to so much trouble, just to cheer me up.
#14 A Little Belief
In high school, my English teacher hugged me (she hated hugs) and told me that she believed in me. A malicious side of me completely disappeared that day. I still recall it vividly, but it's oddly wonderful how a little belief and positive word can impact someone. I think she inspired my passion for reading, honestly.
#15 Bedtime Stories
When my grandmother passed away, my friend would FaceTime me when I couldn’t sleep and tell me bedtime stories. Our safe-word was “pineapple.” If she said that and I didn’t answer, she knew I was sleeping and she could hang up. It might have been a little thing for her, but it really made a huge difference for me.
#16 Perfect For Me
My neighbor, who is now 79, handed me a birthday card I gave from when I was three. She didn't have grandchildren and told me I was perfect enough for her. I went home and cried. Literally no one had ever done anything or even cared about me for that long. Not even my own parents. I could have passed away happy right there.
#17 Pass it On
About 10 years ago, I stopped at Subway to grab dinner after a very long 14-hour shift. When the employee swiped my debit card, it declined. I was already tired and I know I had at least $2K in the bank. I felt the tears immediately start to fall down my face as I timidly asked to try it again. Declined. I just slumped over and eked out, “Thank you for trying." I started to walk away, shaking because I didn't know what happened to my money. I was very tired and all I wanted was a sub.
The lady behind me then said, "Wait! I'll get it for you!" I thanked her and asked for her info so I could pay her back, she said not to worry about it. As cliche as it sounds, she said to "pass it on.” I got home, checked my account, and was relieved to see all my money was there. I called the bank, and they told me my old card had expired and they had sent a new one out several weeks ago. My bank still had my parents' address, so I was able to get it.
#18 Helpful Samaritans
I passed out on the street and when I came to, there were a few people around me, four maybe. It seemed like they didn’t know each other, but all stopped to help. They called an ambulance, waited with me, asked if there was anyone I could call and tried calling my parents and a guy I lived with. Just when I was coming to, but still too out of it to really think straight, a woman said she was driving past and saw me just lying there. She said it reminded her of her little brother who passed away very recently. I didn’t get to say anything to her and I felt awful.
#19 The Stepmom
My stepmom continues to do nice things for me. I grew up with a very neglectful mother, emotionally, physically, and financially. My parents divorced when I was 12 and I was forced into a motherly position to my two younger sisters. My dad and stepmom married three months after the divorce was finalized and because of my mom’s anger and dislike of her, I never took the time to get to know her or be nice to her.
To put it bluntly, I was terrible to her. I’m sure she thought about leaving my dad a billion times during those years. My father was eventually re-stationed and moved away for work. My anger stopped me from keeping a relationship with them. After years of not talking, I messaged them out of the blue. I was fed up with being homeless (mom threw me out at 18), depressed, lonely, and uneducated.
Three years of no communication and only three weeks texting back and forth, I asked her if I could relocate to the west coast to better my life. She not only purchased my plane ticket, but a plane ticket for my dog as well. I’ve been living with them for two years now. I’m 22 and I have my associates and am working towards a bachelor's in biochemistry. My parents, especially my stepmom, have shown me what true unconditional love looks like and how parents are supposed to take care of their children.
#20 That Little Gesture
I was depressed and lonely and went to an Indian restaurant to eat by myself for a week straight. Eventually, I assume they started to pick up on my down mood and they just started giving me free food. It was really nice because at the time I was jobless and was running out of money fast. That little gesture helped me a lot.
#21 Hug Bro
Back in my freshmen year, I had gotten into a fight with my ex of two years and we broke up. Since she was my first love, I actually started tearing up during lunch after we broke it off. I was standing there, tearing up outside next to a pole, headphones in, and this random guy came up to me. He tapped my shoulder, looked at me and asked, “Are you okay?”
I said, “Yeah, man, I’m alright.” I just remember the way I said it, voice quivering and he didn’t buy it for a second. He just gave me a look and said to me, “You need a hug.” The dude legit just looked at me and gave me a big hug. At the moment, I didn’t really care how I looked, or how we looked just hugging it out right there, but it really helped me throughout the day.
This guy, I had never spoken to him and never saw him in my life. He was such a nice guy and such a bro that he didn’t even care himself that he just gave me a big bear hug. I never saw that dude again. I like to think he’s out there giving the world a giant hug to this very day. Hug Bro, if you’re out there, thanks, man.
#22 Lunchtime Invite
I moved in the middle of the seventh grade. New city, new junior high school. Lunch came up and I sat on the first bench I got to. Everyone else was in a different part of the yard. Dave B. walked over and said, "You're new, right? Come sit with us!" He and I never really became friends, but I still remember that invitation decades later.
#23 Piano Player
My boyfriend of many years left me. So, my friend would Skype me and play the piano for me every night. I met this piano player at some night club, (when we both were very young) on the dance floor. We made out then exchanged numbers and became good friends instead. We always said that one day, when we each have our respective kids and they asked us how we met, it would be a great story.
#24 A Little Help
My dog was sick. He was crying all night for three days. I didn’t know if he had a broken bone or something, but I created a post on Reddit asking for help for what I could do or what he could have. (I couldn't afford a vet because of the hard situation of Venezuela, lack of food, health, security, etc.) A college student sent me money to go to a vet and that's what I did. Now, my dog is fine.
#25 Light in the Dark
When I was hospitalized with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, the first two days I was in the ICU on a ventilator. I was heavily medicated, but somehow I was still awake a lot of the time. There were two really kind nurses. The first one came in and said, "Hi, I'm Lil Rachel. They call me that because I'm short. Your grandparents are coming tonight, so let's get your hair done so you look pretty for them."
She used rinse-free shampoo to clean my hair (I hadn't been able to shower for, like, three days before getting to the hospital due to balance and mobility issues). She then brushed it, braided it and put it up in a bun. No one else cared about that, they were focused on keeping me alive, so that was really kind of her.
The second nurse, I don't even know what she looked like. I had like a five-hour head-to-toe MRI while still on the ventilator. I was crying and scared and didn't know what was going on, so every time I came out of the tube, I started panicking. This lady was there to hold my hand, literally, and rub the back of it and tell me that I was okay.
Every time I came back out, I immediately reached a hand out and she was right there to grab my hand and comfort me when I was scared and confused. Really, every nurse, doctor, physical therapist, and psychologist I saw when I was in the hospital was so incredibly kind to me. I'm crying just thinking back on how amazing every staff member was in the darkest part of my life.
#26 Change of Plans
I'm not one to make a fuss over my birthday. I didn't want to make a big deal and I don't like putting people out. We were walking back to mine and I suggested we just go to the movies. I wasn't aware that my best friend had organized for 15 of my other friends to hide in my bedroom and jump out at me when we got home.
#27 By My Side
I had a rough childhood. The summer I graduated high school and turned 18 was a turning point for me. I began speaking up for myself and began taking less of my family's nonsense. One weekend, my parents had a party at their house. My stepdad was a severe addict and wasn’t supposed to be partying due to health issues but was anyway.
I confronted him and that turned into a huge fight between me, him, and his adult daughter. I had enough and ran to the neighbor's house where I stayed the night. I called my new boyfriend (now husband) and asked that he come get me early in the morning. The dude barely knew me and didn't hesitate to help. We set it up so I would meet him at the top of my road.
The next morning, I got up before dawn, snuck into my house and packed a bag. I tiptoed barefoot out the door, barely able to breathe, and the second my feet hit the driveway, I took off running as fast as I could down the road. There he was, waiting for me at the end of the road. Up until that point in my life, I didn't feel like anyone cared for me. My life changed that day for the better and that began the long road to building confidence and self-worth all with him by my side.
#28 Buy Something Nice
When I was super pregnant, I was working at DQ. I was only 18, so I got a lot of anxiety about rude customers. One lady, at one point, had told her daughter I was a harlot and not to end up like me. She was the only really rude person, but it had totally put a damper on my spirits and made me feel permanently more on edge about being the stereotypical "teen mom.”
This guy came in and was maybe in his 30s. As he was waiting for his food, he made small talk with me. We made really great small talk until it was done. As I handed him his food, he grabbed my hand and slapped $30.00 in it. He told me, "Get yourself something nice for your baby girl." I didn't compute what was happening and stared at him, barely yelling out "thank you" as he walked out the door because I was so shocked.
I went in the back. Everybody thought he offended me because my cheeks were red and I was slack-jawed until I explained. He was the first stranger to make me cry happy tears. I wish I could remember exactly what he looked like. I'd try and find him so I could let him know how much it meant to me and that I didn't mean to stand there with my mouth open.
#29 Honeymoon Suite
My spouse and I were on our honeymoon and didn’t have a lot of money, but we managed to afford to stay at our favorite inn in our favorite coastal town. Someone, somehow, managed to find out that we were newlyweds and anonymously paid for our stay. Sometime in the future, I plan on paying it forward at that same place.
#30 Attitude Adjustment
My husband was being rude to me in public once. Our mutual friend, who was more his friend, said, "Hey. I don't like how you’re talking to your wife." There was a back and forth, my husband's friend was super respectful and reserved under the circumstances. It was so kind of him to risk the friendship to say it. I thanked him and my husband cut off all ties with him. I hate my husband.
#31 Birthday Picture
One time, my daughter painted me a picture for my birthday. It was of me and the dogs (both present and that crossed the rainbow bridge), enjoying nature. It was just a simple and incredibly thoughtful gift. It was also more meaningful because she was at that rebellious stage where I was no longer her favorite person.
#32 Getting the Job
My mother's boyfriend at the time gave me a referral to the company he works for. I get a, "Thanks, but we don't have any blah blah blah" letter from the company. Oh well. No big deal. My resume was hilariously lacking in things they wanted in an employee. He then pulled some strings and got them to give the resume a second look. Another no thank you letter.
He talked to them again and convinced them to give me an interview. He was confident that if they interviewed me and gave me the aptitude test, they'd hire me. So, they interviewed me and gave me the test. They called me in for a second interview and I was hired less than a week later. I've been there for just over 12 years. If it wasn't for all the stuff that guy did to just get my foot in the door, I'd probably still be managing retail and not happy about it.
#33 Best Dog Ever
My dog was sick and I posted on my local subreddit to see if anyone wanted her. She was an amazing dog who just had some expensive health problems, so I was hoping some rich person would take her in and maybe we could visit once in a while. Someone reached out and offered to pay all of her vet bills instead. It’s been five years now and Ruby is still the best dog ever. My family’s finances have turned around as well!
#34 Feeling Loved
For my 24th birthday, four of my best friends and I rented a cabin up in the mountains to celebrate for the whole weekend. Just having them set aside time and money for my birthday trip meant so much to me, but they went beyond that. Two of them managed to get me out of the cabin for a few hours while the other two stayed behind. I came back to a fully decorated cabin with balloons and confetti everywhere, my favorite cake, champagne, and Bruno Mars’ “24k Magic” playing as I walked in. I felt so, so loved.
#35 Makeshift Bedroom
I was fresh out of a relationship that left me with almost nothing. My college roommate offered me a place to stay. When I showed up without any furniture, he immediately went out and found a bed, sheets, etc. and set me up with a makeshift bedroom. I swallowed my young man's pride and straight-up hugged him.
I remember telling him I'd never ask for help again. He simply said, "Anything for a brother." He probably doesn't remember that night, but I'll never forget it. I've helped four people with places to stay to get back on their feet over the years, and it honestly humbles me anytime I help a friend in need because of him.
#36 Surprise Dinner
My father very unexpectedly passed away. Two or three days after everything happened, our doorbell rang. It was our neighbor delivering a surprise KFC dinner for us. I found it extremely thoughtful, and at that time, knowing somebody cared about us brought my spirits up a bit. It was just a simple act that helped me.
#37 In a New City
I moved to a new city a few months ago and the other week it was my birthday. I don't really know many people here that well yet, and I was acting in a play the night of my birthday. I got to spend that day with my visiting parents, but I was still feeling pretty homesick thinking of how I'd be celebrating with friends if I'd stayed in my hometown. Anyhow, the play finished and I was tempted to just go home and hit the hay. I decided to just stick around with the cast. They brought out a cake and champagne and started singing “Happy Birthday.” It meant so much to me.
#38 Ski Trip
When I was a senior in high school, my band was going on a trip out of state to go skiing. I had moved a lot as a kid. Aside from going to that high school at two disjunct periods of time, it held the longest amount of my education. I hadn't been able to go on any of the band trips, though. I had to work to pay my own way. I had problems with my mom and her stepdad and hadn't yet fully forgiven my dad. I had my own bills that I was responsible for. I could never afford to go on one of the band trips.
All of a sudden, about a week and a half away from the trip, my band director pulled me aside. He asked me if I wanted to go on the ski trip. I responded something to the effect of not being able to afford it. He cut me off, saying that's not what he asked. Obviously, I told him I wanted to go. Turns out, some benefactor saw some of what was going on getting l behind the curtains in my life. They were — and still are — anonymous to me, but they footed the bill for my charter ticket, food money, and ski gear money. I cried. I just started crying right there in the band director's office.
#39 Check’s in the Mail
I got hurt at work and had to take a huge pay cut while on disability. My own father wouldn’t help lend me money, so I thought I was going to lose my house and everything. I got a call that same day from my stepdad who heard I was out of work. He sent me a check in the mail and said if I pay him back it’s fine or if I don’t it’s fine. It was $3,000. He helped me in more ways than my own father.
#40 Family Ties
Recently my husband, son and I made the trip from Australia to Canada to visit my family and friends. My father bought our plane tickets and my mother bought my son enough clothes for this summer and the following autumn. My mother-in-law picked us up from the airport, helped us get our four suitcases and a very grumpy toddler into her truck, drove us home and then helped us unpack a little. She also ordered us pizza and then bathed and put our son to bed. I adore my family.
#41 Sushi Order
I remember this one time when a random lady paid for my group of eight or so college student's sushi order. If I remember correctly, the bill was somewhere around $250 to $300 before the tip. I never really saw her, but I think of it randomly sometimes when I'm angry in traffic or sad in general and it makes me happy.
#42 Love of Reading
When I was a little kid, my family didn't have a lot of money, so we often shopped at thrift stores. What I loved about that was that you could get 10 books for a dollar, so I would plant myself in front of the book section and make piles of which ones I wanted to get. I then decided after I'd gone through them all.
One day, an older lady saw me sitting with my piles and asked if I liked to read. I told her I did and showed her a few of the books I found that I liked. She smiled and then pulled a dollar out of her purse, handed it to me and said, "Promise me that you'll keep reading." I was so happy and immediately stood up and said that I would. She smiled and walked away. I went back to my piles, able to pick out an extra 10 books to take home.
It was honestly just a small act of kindness for her, but for me, having a random stranger encourage my love of reading and making me promise to never stop definitely had a lot to do with my continued love of reading. This was probably about 20 years or so ago, but I still think of her whenever I buy a new book.
#43 Cart of Groceries
My favorite kind act was when this one woman went and bought my full cart of groceries. I had been out of work and struggling, but had saved up enough money to get about a month of groceries. That is, if I bought plain food in bulk. She got me frozen veggies and fruits, fresh meat, rice, beans, cheese, so much food.
#44 Fishing Stranger
When I was younger, over 10 years ago, I was tubing down a river with my family. Of course, I somehow ended up behind the rest of my family just before going over a small waterfall. I got stuck in the waterfall somehow, fell out my tube, and was being tumbled around underwater thinking, “This is it.” Thankfully, someone was fishing closeby and grabbed me and my tube. They then sent me on my way. It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced, and I couldn’t be more thankful to that stranger fishing.
#45 Get Out of Jail Free
I was 16 and got pulled over outside of the curfew on my limited license, while mildly speeding. I forgot to pay the ticket, missed the court date and had to go to the District Attorney. A clerk there looked at me and said, “Well, you don’t have a warrant for your arrest, so that’s good”. Then she said she was going to reduce my speed and throw out the curfew, and I was just going to owe a large fine. She didn’t say it, but I knew that was the only get out of jail free card I was ever going to get in my life.
#46 Roof Over Your Head
More like multiple people around me. I recently found out my wife was going out with someone else, so I kicked her out of my apartment. Going from a two-income house to supporting yourself is definitely difficult. I had just about everyone I know offer to take me in and put a roof over my head, including my best friends-in-law who I've legitimately met maybe three times. I was really surprised by how many people around me care.
#47 Hospital Buddy
This past summer, I was in South Dakota working for the summer and I got in a really bad ATV accident which left me in a coma. One of my friends who I was with dropped everything, drove three hours to Nebraska to the hospital I was in and stayed by my side. He also kept everyone I'm close with updated with what was going on with me. He stayed by my side until my parents drove all the way from Jersey.
#48 Keeping the Tradition Alive
I had a $2,000+ hospital bill after I was attacked and couldn’t pay it. My friends put together an anonymous fundraiser by having a “pub crawl” at our favourite iconic local pub. They got another friend to design T-shirts and sold them for profit. They raised enough money for me to pay my bill. They kept the tradition alive the next year and donated to the local women’s shelter in my honour.
#49 Saying Goodbye
Back in 2013, I found out my mother was in a terrible car accident and was in a coma. At the time, I just moved to North Dakota and she was back home in Texas. I had made plans to visit a few months down the line, so I called the air carrier and told them the situation. If it was possible, I asked them to move my flight much sooner due to the family emergency.
They moved the dates but not to the ones I needed. I called again to try and get it moved closer, but somehow ended up canceling the flight and having to pay $800 for another set of tickets. I was so distressed that I just gave up. My girlfriend of only a few months called everyone she could to help get me to Texas to be with my mom. With her and her family’s help, I did end up going and saying goodbye. Five years later and I’m happily to married her.
#50 Angel in the Sky
I was six months pregnant with my first child and was flying across the country alone. The woman sitting next to me was also pregnant, but with her fourth baby. We made small talk for a few minutes at the beginning of the flight, but that was it. About two-thirds into the flight, we hit turbulence and no one was allowed to get up. Between the motion and pregnancy, I was feeling it, so I ended up hurling into the air sickness bag. The whole time I was sick, the woman next to me held my hair, rubbed my back, and even patted water on the back of my neck. She was an angel, I wish I’d gotten her name.