I love October for countless reasons, but one just jumped to the top of the list. Every year on World Smile Day we are called to “Do an act of kindness. Help one person smile”.
Did you know that this movement was initiated by the creator of the smiley face, Harvey Ball? It brings a sense of comfort to know you did something nice for someone. Still, in my home our values call on us to do this on a daily basis. I don’t go to bed happy at night if I didn’t make at least one person smile throughout the day. So what makes World Smile Day any different, right?
This year I decided to change things up a bit. I needed to make as many people smile as possible! In this heat I could only think of paletas! You may know them as popsicles. In our town the local ice-cream shoppe has been making them in different flavors, with real fruit, with or without milk, since as far back as I can remember. It’s like ice-cream on a stick and sure to make children of all ages smile.
I decided that putting a bunch of them in a cooler and driving them around town was too easy. I needed to put in the work and push the cart like the guy has done for years all over our tiny town since I was growing up. How hard could it be right? I was about to find out!
After purchasing 200 paletas, Ms. Shelly at Manelly’s Ice-cream Shoppe let me borrow the paleta cart and off we went. Since it was my idea I had to push. Meanwhile, the rest of the team would take pictures of me making a complete fool of myself trying to get this heavy awkward thing across the busy streets and around corners. I hadn’t even started giving out the paletas and people were already laughing.
I even let my Snapchat friends in on the fun. You know I never deprive you guys of a good giggle! (@amberbelize)
I yelled, “Free paletas… get your free paletas on World Smile Day… Happy World Smile Day… Trading paletas for smiles”!
Kids flocked the cart for the cold treats, willing to trade a big smile with no problem at all. People watched and smiled from their verandas. Construction workers were hesitant to believe I was actually offering a “free” treat, but happy to know it was not a hoax.
I learned so much during this short journey around town. Taxi drivers have a bad rep, but even they slow down for a cool treat and a smile. Those construction workers that will usually yell out disrespectful things at me as I jog by, were very respectful when I came to them with respect instead of ignoring them as I run by. People are so nice when met with a kind gesture. My little town is still full of so many familiar faces, but there are so many of you I need to get to know.
I think I also taught my daughter, Madi, that being silly, being yourself, is totally awesome and welcomed no matter how strange it may seem as long as your heart is in the right place.
Two hours, two hundred paletas and way more smiles later, we made it back to the ice-cream shoppe with an empty cart and our soul full of smiles.
If you do the math, we invested $200 and an afternoon of our team’s time, but what we received in return was priceless. With each smile my heart was lighter and my own smile grew brighter. You sent me home with a high I will not soon forget. Your smiles made me a millionaire, San Pedro. Thank you.
Let’s make even more people smile. Share this story to inspire more acts of kindness and let me know your thoughts in the comment section below or read more stories about People On Our Map.