Want to know one of the coolest things about living in a small town? When you call the mayor’s office, you actually get to talk to the mayor!

The mayor of Aberdeen owns a business in town, so in full disclosure, I actually found him there.

In a show of great kindness, Mayor Travis Shaunaman didn’t even laugh at me when I told him what I wanted.

“I’ve written a book and I want the whole town of Aberdeen to read it.” I was talking as fast as I could so I could get out my words before he decided I might be insane.

He kept listening. Again, more kindness.

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“The book is called 'The Negativity Remedy' and I feel like if we can get people to read it, we can open up some conversations about kindness and compassion in our community. You know, like getting us all on the same page so we can begin the next chapter of our lives with a sense of unity.”

I love a good pun.

I’ve only lived in Aberdeen for about 18 months, so I didn’t realize our town’s library actually does a yearly community read event.

Travis put me in touch with Cara at the K.O. Lee Aberdeen Public Library.

Cara is the most dynamic librarian I’ve ever met. She is always smiling and hardly ever uses her inside voice. I love her!

She loves kindness and agreed to get things rolling with a communitywide kindness challenge.

The next thing I know, my face is on a billboard, ads are running all over town and all my favorite stores are carrying my book.

It has all felt like such a big hug.

But the thing I love best is hearing the stories people are submitting to the library about kindness they see in their own lives.

Here are just two of the winners from the kindness challenge.

“Hi there!

The kindness story I would like to submit is how my neighbor was nice enough to mow my lawn this spring while I was healing and recovering from a rotary cuff injury on my shoulder.

I saw this quote on Facebook, ‘Kindness doesn't cost a thing, yet it's the richest gift you can give!’ This is so true, because it was so appreciated! My neighbor only mowed it a couple of times, but it allowed my injured shoulder just enough time to heal with medication and avoid needing a surgery.

Thank you,

Jaci”

“My mom died of COVID in Texas the same week my wife and I tested positive in Aberdeen. That Sunday was our 40th anniversary so we couldn’t shop for each other or go to dinner. John and Janene Pappendick brought a handmade card and two turtle bars to our home to brighten our spirits! Very kind and a lasting impression!”

The man who sent in this story gave his library prize package to the Pappdendicks as a thank you.

Yes, it’s true. Kindness is contagious.

The Kindness Challenge has ended, but you can watch the Q&A recording of the live virtual event with Nicole Phillips on the K.O. Lee Aberdeen Public Library's Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/publiclibraryaberdeensd.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com.

Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Aberdeen, S.D., with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips, the head men's basketball coach at Northern State University. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.