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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for reflecting on the things you're grateful for, and it's a known fact that practicing gratitude is a valuable tool for building character. Some say the other key to the pursuit of happiness is gratitude's counterpart, generosity. So I thought I'd kick off the season of giving by shining a little spotlight on simple acts of kindness that can have a huge impact: I've gathered ten videos about people giving back, paying it forward, and helping others -- to inspire us all to do the same this holiday season and all year long.

Video Playlist: Random Acts of Kindness and Generosity

Watch the player below to see the whole playlist, or view it on YouTube.

  1. Middle School Football Players Execute Life-Changing Play (03:22)

    This news report on a Michigan football team's perfectly planned act of kindness for their teammate is a beautiful example of how generosity can affect the giver as well as the recipient.

  2. Paying For People's Drive Thru (02:10)

    Whether you're a fast food junkie or a health nut, you won't be able to help smiling at these young guys who start a generosity chain reaction by paying for the car behind them at the drive-through window.

  3. Preschool Kindness (02:37)

    Ethan and Emily are two best friends who started giving back early -- while still in preschool, they raised over $5000 for a local food bank. Priceless quote: "It feeled great!"

  4. GOOD LOOK: Mentors for Students (02:36)

    The nonprofit program City Year combats the dropout crisis by recruiting 17- to 24-year-old volunteers to mentor upper elementary and middle school students for the full ten months of the school year.

  5. Street Compliments? (03:29)

    This type of kindness costs absolutely nothing and takes only a few moments, but can change someone's day for the better. Give a compliment to someone you love! Thanks for the idea, SoulPancake.

  6. TrueMove H: Giving (03:03)

    Thought it's actually a mobile carrier commercial from Thailand, this video went viral in September -- with 14 million views, it's clear people were really moved by this simple story of kindness repaid, 30 years later.

  7. Hurricane Sandy recovery: Stories from P.S. 207 Rockwood Park (04:04)

    Big generosity can be sparked by the need for disaster relief. This video profiles teachers affected by Hurricane Sandy who successfully rebuilt their classrooms with support from the organization Donors Choose.

  8. Hello Internet! It's #SOCKTOBER! Love, Kid President (04:40)

    The effervescent Kid President ran a successful campaign to collect socks for the homeless last month by rallying the citizens of the internet. Equally awesome -- this video of all the people who participated!

  9. Sarah Bugs Sweet Treats - Kid CEO! (03:31)

    This nine-year-old Canadian girl started her own baking business and continues to donate half her profits to a local hospice that serves the elderly. Grand total so far? Over $8000.

  10. The New York Subway Signs Experiment (01:32)

    Watch as New York subway drivers get an unexpected laugh and a lift to their day -- from total strangers.

More Resources to Learn About Giving Back

I hope these videos have inspired you to start a "pay it forward" or "random acts of kindness" project with your class! As you can see from the stories above, it can be incredibly rewarding to help others -- from those less fortunate, to your dearest friends and family, to complete strangers. There are tons of great ideas to be found, provided by people and organizations who promote kindness and empathy. Or, ask your kids for their ideas on how they can give back! I'd love to hear about your generosity projects and ideas in the comments below. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

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