NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

January 25, 2013

Spreading kindness

Amesbury women create website to inspire acts of giving

By Lynne Hendricks
Correspondent

---- — Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness by a complete stranger who went out of his or her way to lighten your burden? If you live in Amesbury, your chances of being treated to such an act are greater than ever, thanks to a new business that is geared toward making folks feel cared about and connected to each other.

Having been recipients of kind acts that inspired them to do the same for others, the idea of seeing a “pay it forward” paradigm play out on a larger scale was one that Amesbury residents Danielle Levy and Dorothy McGrath thought had great growth potential.

“We both were looking for a way to give back to the community,” McGrath said. “We’ve both done a lot of volunteer work over the years and this is just something that came to us.”

Most of us are accustomed to being kind to others when opportunity arises, but with their business, The Littlest Change, Levy and McGrath are calling on the community to perform random acts of kindness in a more organized, premeditated way. And, their job as entrepreneurs is to get the ball rolling. To do this, Levy and McGrath have paid the toll for fellow drivers on the highway, purchased the drink of the person in line behind them at Starbucks, and singled out a typically unrecognized worker with praise and a batch of homemade cookies.

For every good deed they do, the duo leave behind a Littlest Change calling card. It’s their hope that the card, and the invitation on the back to be kind to others in return, will inspire more random giving.

“That’s what we’re banking on,” McGrath said. “We’re hoping if we can spread this, we’ll create a happy community.”

Their business model to start with is entirely self-funded, and Levy and McGrath foot the bill for whatever tokens of appreciation they bestow on others. But through the sale of merchandise bearing The Littlest Change logo and inspirational quotes, they plan to funnel a portion of their profits and hopefully double, triple and quadruple their efforts to do nice things.

“We currently have six designs we’re selling on T-shirts and mugs,” McGrath said. “We’re not looking to make money. Our goal is to raise money so we can better fund additional acts of kindness.”

In the meantime, the two are looking at growing their do-good industry in another way — by offering stacks of stickers and calling cards to individuals and groups that believe in the value of a society that treats each other kindly. In exchange for the cards, they ask for a photo of the good deed or an email of the story behind the deed, so they can know their work is having an impact. The deeds can also then be added to a list on their website.

Having already given out a number of cards, Levy and McGrath are surprised at how their idea is spreading.

A growing network of givers has left spare change on vending machines, a package of diapers and wipes on a public bathroom changing table, added money to an expired parking meter, attached a gift card to a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through window and more.

“Dorothy did a deed recently where she went to return her Redbox video and she left some popcorn behind for the next person,” Levy said.

The other day, McGrath and Levy delivered a batch of homemade muffins to a local librarian, who was so happy to receive them that she wanted to do something nice for someone else.

“She went into CVS and happened to notice the pharmacists were running ragged,” McGrath said. “They were very busy and being so patient.”

The librarian went and purchased two bouquets of flowers, one of which she gave to the pharmacist. The other, she directed, was to be given to the next person who came into the CVS looking ill and in need of a smile.

“That’s our whole hope, that one step will lead to another and this will have a domino effect in the community and the world as a whole,” McGrath said.

Both Levy and McGrath have young children who they hope to inspire with their efforts, and they take their children with them on most of their giving missions. The kids love it so much, they said, that they developed special packets for others interested in making kindness a family affair.

“We’ve got some great kid packets we’ve been giving out that explain to kids how they can make a difference,” Levy said. “I think it’s really good for them to see us doing this.”

“Honestly, I think our ultimate goal is to create a community where our children can grow up and feel safe,” McGrath added. “The more people we can touch the better. It’s a wonderful feeling to care about each other.”

---

To learn more about The Littlest Change or to get involved with performing random acts of kindness, go to www.thelittlestchange.com.