Random gifts unwrap smiles for strangers

Tuesday 3rd January 2017

Little loving gifts are being left around the world to put the smile on strangers’ faces – thanks to a golden-hearted group founded in Norfolk.

All year round its members are working hard to brighten lives with crafts, jewellery, toys and kind words scattered in public places from park benches to the tops of post boxes.  

The acts of kindness are carried out by the Facebook group Random Gifts Across The World, launched three years ago by Trish Abbott from her home in Reedham.

This week she will be out and about in Norfolk leaving her craft creations including painted stones and slices of wood in a variety of surprising places. They include trees, shop toilets, coffee shop tables, cinema foyers, pubs and restaurants.

Mrs Abbott, 62, explained: “It is all about giving without an expectation of getting anything back – other than a good feeling from doing something kind.”

“There is so much horrid news around at the moment, it is lovely to make people smile.

 “We need lots more members who like giving things and performing random acts of kindness – it might change the world.”

The idea began in 2013 when retired company secretary and hobby artist Trish joined a similar Random Gifts of Love Facebook page and “got hooked” after leaving trinkets around Norwich.

When the Love site folded she started a replacement, which has now grown to over 1600 members in every corner of the globe including Australia, the United States, South Africa, Brazil, as well across the UK and Europe.

“It feels like being a naughty school child, sneakily leaving something somewhere and just walking away. But I have sat quietly and watched people finding the gifts. Seeing their reaction is priceless.

“I once left a gift on a bus seat, and a woman came running after me to say I had forgotten something. When I said it was for her she could not believe it.”

She has also handed a piece of craft to a recently bereaved woman at a hobbies group, who wept tears of happiness at the gesture.

The Facebook members leave messages with their bagged up gifts asking for feedback from the finders, while pictures of the gifts aim to provide inspiration for others.

One finder said “There is a bouquet of flowers on the bench by the church. The note says it is lonely and needs a home – and that it is to make someone smile. I left it there for someone else. It made me smile. Thank you to whoever made it.”

The Random Gifts Around the World group aims to “spread love and acts of kindness around the globe - to bring sunshine and happiness”.

Gift ideas include home-made or bought crafts, jewellery and soft toys, but can also be poems, cards written with inspiring words, or flowers.

They have been left in libraries, cash machines, community centres, visitor attractions, woodland walks, or just on streets – hanging from lampposts and on top of post boxes.

Trish added: “We have one member in the USA who is a keen runner, and leaves her gifts along her trail.

“The Facebook group is also a community. If someone posts they are having a bad time, people will send them lovely comments to support them.”

The group rallies around to target a series of gifting events during the year including Valentines, Halloween, Christmas and in the summer leaves bottles of bubbles around parks for children’s fun.

But it encourages members to perform random acts of kindness and love all year round – from letting drivers out into traffic queues or giving up seats to people on buses – all aimed at “making someone else feel good.”

Mrs Abbott’s husband Phil is a community transport minibus driver at Great Yarmouth’s Centre 81, which provides skills and activities for people with a range of disabilities. It is among the latest groups to sign up to the Random Gifts Across The World initiative as it seeks to top the 2,000 member mark.

A craft group in its skills and activities aims to make items for the scheme, and skills and activities centre manager Julie Charles said: “We are a charity which aims to bring happiness and fulfilment to members lives and we rely on donations. Through this brilliant concept our members can give something back to the community and put smiles on other people’s faces too.”

TMS Media provides PR for Centre 81, raising its profile through stories about its work.

Find out more about, and make contact with the Random Gifts Across The World group through its Facebook page.

Caption:

Random Gifts Across The World founder Trish Abbott with Centre 81 member Terry Miles. (Picture credit TMS Media)