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Today would have been Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Noah Pozner's seventh birthday. Instead, his twin sister turns seven alone. He would have wanted nothing more on his birthday than an act of kindness.
That was the stark, moving message his sister Danielle left on the Facebook page 26 Days of Kindness, adding, "Please do something nice for someone else tomorrow in his honor. <3"
The idea — spend the 26 days before the first anniversary of the shooting performing random acts of kindness for neighbors and strangers alike — spread quickly across social media this week. Page manager Ashley Petersen invited more than 15,000 Facebook users to honor the memories of the victims. To date, more than 1,800 have confirmed they would.
"I wrote a letter to a friend who lost her son," wrote one. "I live in Westchester County. I hope my simple act helped to honor all three boys today. I can't even imagine what their families are going through — it must be especially awful now as the holidays approach."
One dropped by the florist and bought flowers for the next customer to come in. Another reader gave patrons at the FAITH Food Pantry at St. John's Episcopal Church biscotti — "fresh out of the oven."
Some used the "Pay it forward" method, buying meals for the person behind them at the drive-thru. Others kept it simple — buying coffee for their boss or loaning their boyfriend the car for the day.
"I was amazed at how many opportunities are around us that we either ignore or just think about and decide we don't have time," wrote one more reader. "Today I started a Chuck Wagon (evening meal delivery) in my office for a co-worker who broke her ankle. Thanks Ashley for this suggestion of daily kindness, it feels good, and I want to make it a part of my daily life."
And that's just the first day. With dozens — if not hundreds — of Facebook users sharing their stories of kindness, Petersen wrapped up the first night of the experiment with a note asking readers to remember either Pozner, Daniel Barden or both.
"Today would have been Noah's seventh birthday but now his twin sister celebrates alone," she wrote. "He loved to read, figure out how things worked mechanically and play with his siblings, his best friends. Please think of him and his family today. As for Daniel Barden, everything I read emphasized what a kind, giving, happy child he was. He was an 'old soul' and wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up. What was your act of kindness today?"
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