February 12th-18th is Random Acts of Kindness Week, and we’re sharing 25 inspiring ways you and your kids can make a positive impact in the San Diego community. Pay it forward by surprising the school office staff with donuts or preparing meals for the hungry, cleaning up the beach or walking a 5k to benefit animals. Here’s how to spread the love…

feeding america sophie

Photo: Leah Singer 

Show a Giving Spirit in the Community

1. Get a double boost of happiness by exercising to get your endorphins pumping, while raising money and awareness for a good cause. Find a local, charitable 5k and ‘walk on’ as a family.

2. Make a healthy meal for a friend or neighbor who is ill, or start a meal train for a family who just welcomed a baby. Check out San Diego food blogger Maryanne Jacobsen’s site for recipe inspiration.

3. Visit one of our favorite donut shops with the little ones… and buy an extra dozen to give to the administration office or put in the teacher’s lounge at your kid’s school.


4. It’s Girl Scout Cookie time. Donate a box to troops via San Diego’s Operation Thin Mint when you order your cookies.

5. Do you have an awesome mailman, gardener or pool cleaner? Leave a note with some homemade baked goods to show them you appreciate them. Check out local blogger and baker Averie Cooks for sweet treat ideas.

6. Buy a coffee or smoothie from one of these local spots and brighten the day of someone often overlooked who does a great job: the school secretary, storytime librarian or the recess monitor who always ties your kid’s shoes on the playground.

7. Know an awesome mom who could use some time off? Offer to take her kids to the movies to give her a couple free hours.

8. Does someone you know have a food allergy? Make their life a little sweeter with some goodies from one of these local gluten free bakeries, many of which can adapt recipes for any major food allergy.

SDFarmersMKtPhoto: Chris C. via Yelp 

Shop Locally

9. Eat locally-grown foods and shop at one of San Diego’s Farmer’s Markets this week to support local growers.

10. Support local merchants and restaurants. We’ve got recommendations for every kind of kid-friendly restaurant you could want — from local pizza and soup joints to family-friendly craft breweries.

11. Need a gift? Consider buying one from local retailers or San Diego-based Etsy artisans who make beautiful wares by hand… or visit one of these San Diego neighborhood toy shops.

12. Dine at one of the many mom-and-pop restaurants at Liberty Public Market, where your purchase will help support local artisans.

13. You can shop local and make a big impact on the living wage of workers all over the world by choosing fair trade products. Follow this link to find fair trade shops all over town.

HumaneSocietyPhoto: San Diego Humane Society

Donate Time and Treasure

14. Volunteer as a family at one of these San Diego charities and non-profit organizations.

15. Share your birthday with Father Joe’s Villages. In lieu of gifts, have friends and family make a donation that will help homeless families in San Diego.

16. Need to clean out cupboards or the garage? Set aside old blankets or towels and donate them at your nearest Humane Society.

17. You can also help out local animals in shelters by donating pet food, or in a larger way by becoming a foster family for an animal waiting to find his forever home.

18. Donate pet food to AniMeals. Your donation will help a local senior citizen who needs assistance paying for their pet food. Find a drop off location for donations near you.

19. Has your kiddo outgrown some of his books? Donate to Friends of the Library at these branches or give them to your child’s teacher for the classroom library.

20. Take your children to spread cheer while visiting the elderly in local retirement homes via the Senior Share and Care program.

21. Volunteer together at Feeding San Diego. It’s easy, the people are friendly, and it prompts great discussions afterward about hunger and gratitude.


Photo: I Love a Clean San Diego Facebook Page

Take Care of the Environment

22. Get inspired by local mom Jane Maynard who not only shares great meal plans and easy recipe suggestions on her blog, This Week for Dinner, but also has great ideas for small changes families can make to reduce their carbon footprint.

23. Sign up for a beach clean up. There’s one just about every week all over the county.

24. Grow some of your own food and share your yield with others. Kiddos will learn where food comes from, what’s in season, and may just try a new veggie. These garden centers can help get you started.

25. Not enough time to garden? Order up a weekly CSA box of farm fresh produce and know that your veggies are fresh, sourced locally, and helping farmers in the community make a living.

What’s your favorite random act of kindness to pay it forward around San Diego? Tell us in the comments.

–– Cherie Gough