Fargo woman spends her 25th birthday brightening strangers’ daysFARGO - For her 25th birthday, Chantell Sampson learned firsthand how much of a difference a few quarters can make in someone’s day. Instead of throwing a party or going out with friends, the Fargo woman took the day off of work to do nice things for complete strangers.
By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM
FARGO - For her 25th birthday, Chantell Sampson learned firsthand how much of a difference a few quarters can make in someone’s day.
Instead of throwing a party or going out with friends, the Fargo woman took the day off of work to do nice things for complete strangers.
“I wanted to make it memorable, and I wanted to do something that would make people smile,” she says.
From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 5, the Microsoft Web producer completed 25 random acts of kindness to mark her quarter-century milestone.
“It was exhausting and I spent a lot of money, but it was totally worth it. I would definitely do it again,” she says.
Chantell taped quarters to a vending machine, a washing machine and a bus stop bench and put them in gumball machines for unsuspecting children to find.
One little boy noticed what she was doing at Fargo’s West Acres mall and asked his mother if he could go get a gumball.
“It was 25 cents, but it probably made his day, which was the best feeling,” Chantell says.
From her third-floor apartment, she also got to watch a woman pick up the bus-fare money she left.
“She looked around like, ‘Who’s giving me this money to ride the bus?’ It was cool to see it actually be used,” she says.
On that cold winter day last month, several people enjoyed free coffee, Salvation Army bell ringers got hot cocoa, Chantell’s mail carrier was greeted with a Hershey’s bar, and a police officer, Humane Society volunteers and her favorite Jimmy John’s staff received cookies.
“We all have bad days now and then, and even a smile or a coffee from someone you don’t know could totally brighten up your day,” she says.
Chantell started her good-deeds journey the day before (she couldn’t wait to get started) by giving a $20 bill to a young mother waiting in line to buy formula for her baby at a grocery store.
“She looked totally shocked and she was like, ‘What?!’ She started to tear up. It was so moving,” she says.
Some people were hesitant at first when she approached them, but all were grateful once they realized what she was doing and why.
“Once he realized I wasn’t crazy, he was happy to have the cookies,” she says of the officer, whom she actually had to chase down first.
It took Chantell a couple weeks to compile her list of random acts of kindness, but not all of her ideas panned out once she got started.
“It was freezing that day, so there were some we didn’t get to,” she says.
Others were spur-of-the-moment, like giving a little girl money for her own jewelry and accessories at Claire’s.
Chantell says the spontaneity added to the experience.
While driving around town making deliveries, she heard about the YWCA’s “Stuff the Bus” campaign and thought it’d be the perfect drop-off for the stuffed animals and toys she’d brought along.
With her girlfriend’s help, Chantell documented her random acts of kindness and posted a public Facebook album in hopes of inspiring others to do the same.
She says the response has been overwhelming.
As of Wednesday, 75 people had liked the album and it’d been shared 21 times.
Her email to co-workers about her birthday project made its way to Microsoft headquarters in Seattle, where a couple people told her they plan to do it for their own birthdays.
“I still get random messages on Facebook from people I’ve never even met,” Chantell says. “That was the whole point of the mission – to keep it random.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590