5 Ways To Give to Strangers

My 5 is a new series where I share five things on any topic that excites me. Ever since we began to give freely and learned the benefits of doing so, I find it fitting to do a post on giving to strangers. Why give to strangers? Why not? We all share this space and if we can’t show a little honest generosity, then all hope is lost for connection and community. If there is anything I think can make this world a bit better, it’s some more community.

1. Grow a Garden, Give it Away


When you buy a lemon, orange, avocado or anything else with seeds, keep the seeds. Plant them. Grow them. Or take your chives, garlic, pineapple tops/ends and plant them. There are numerous tutorials on Pinterest for doing so. I find the toilet paper roll method to be the best for seeds. Then once your seeds are the size of starter plants, like you would buy at the store, put them some place for the public to see and label them free. Afterall, the seeds didn’t cost you much of anything and a lot of times you can even find dirt for free on Craigslist. I have plans to do this in my apartment, set up a tiny table near the mailboxes and put up some free herbs and veggies.

2. Make Something, Bring an Animal Joy


We can’t exclude the non-human animals in the category of strangers, for we share this space with them too. Try making a toy or sewing a quilt and donate it to your local animal organization (be it a shelter or foster center, sometimes vet clinics are looking for this stuff too). This photo is from a non-profit no-kill cat shelter that Matt and I used to volunteer at. From working there, we learned just how helpful it was for people to donate beds, toys, and the like. Every day we came and opened up those gates, they darted out and skidded across the floor, chasing balls, flicking toys with their little feet and curling up on blankets. So you can either give a blanket or toy you already have or make one. Since sometimes money isn’t all they need. Sometimes a place to curl up, eat out of (so if you make pottery, try a little food dish!), and toss around is just as good. And if you don’t want to make something or have something to give, go to the free section of Craigslist and you’d be surprised some things on there that could make your local furrballs (and non-furry) quite happy.

3. Save Your Jars, Put Them on Craigslist


Though recycling is good, salvaging is always better. So save those jars. The best way to remove the labels, and this is what I do, is to: 1) soak them 2) scrape off as much as you can 3) mix one part baking soda to one part vegetable oil 4) spread it over the remains of your label, let it sit for about an hour and then rub it off using a towel and rubbing in circles. At one point I had 16 of these little puppies (apparently we like the Food for Lovers queso a lot). I removed the labels and posted them in the free section of Craigslist. I had 8 phone calls and 5 emails in that day (and that was before I quickly took down the ad because I had enough requests). The person who got them said she’d been wanting to organize for a while but just didn’t want to pay for jars to organize. So, save a stranger some money.

4. Find a Rock, Send a Message


Inspire people in unexpected ways by leaving a message on a rock. This is something I’ve been doing more of. It gives you a chance to do something fun and put a smile on someone’s face or merely give them hope. And the bonus – it’s no cost to you, with the exception of your creative energy and scouting out places to put your messages.

5. Visit the Library, Leave a Note


Grab a book. Write something nice. My favorite is to pick a book that inspired me and write something in it. Try not to use anything too thick for the note, otherwise it will start to damage the spine over time (a little tidbit I learned working at libraries). I prefer to use a skinny piece of scrap paper and a bit of tape. A post it note would work just fine too because they are thin and automatically stick-able. *I wrote this one in one of my favorite writing books, On Writing by Stephen King.

I’m working on another way to give back to strangers that I’m super excited about, but it will get its very own post!

What ways do you give back to strangers?


21 thoughts on “5 Ways To Give to Strangers

  1. Jessie says:

    Aubrey! Such a fantastic and inspiring post.
    I have mentioned you on my blog today, tagging your a to z book list. Your blog is by far my new favorite, and this post made me smile so much!

    Number 5 I have always thought of doing! Don’t know how popular it would be in the UK though!

    Jess xxx

  2. Steph @ meet.make.laugh. says:

    What a lovely post! You may enjoy this project from Meredith at one sheepish girl?


  3. Janmary, N Ireland says:

    LOVE this idea – lovely to give someone else without expecting something in return :)

    Beautiful blog – I’ll be back!

  4. Faith says:

    I love this. I think spreading kindness to strangers through public spaces and acts of kindness is so important. I’ll be yarn bombing as part of One Sheepish Girl’s SheepishBloomDrop this weekend, and I can’t wait to spread a little cheer that way!

    This also reminds me of this really sweet account I read of a dad who would take his kids on a drive every christmas eve to admire all the christmas lights and decorations. If they really liked someone’s decorations or lights they would leave notes thanking them. I thought it was so sweet!

  5. Karen Peterson says:

    Those are some awesome ways to give back. If only more people would think of others and take a little bit of time to brighten someone else’s day.

  6. Sara Strauss says:

    I seriously love these ideas! Especially the rock and the library book ones! I’m going to have to try these! By the way, I love your blog so much!! I’m following you on Bloglovin!

  7. petra says:

    this is a great post. since I’m currently on the road so it’s a little harder to give back. that’s why I like the idea of leaving notes on stones. I also leave books and magazines behind. for practical reasons as much as in the hope that someone might enjoy them as much.

  8. Niken says:

    such great ideas! i always love that leave a note in the library. but mostly, i give back to strangers by smiling at them.

  9. Angie says:

    These are cute. I’ve never thought of saving jars and giving them away before. I’m definitely doing the rock message thing.

  10. Bonnie Rose @ A Compass Rose blog says:

    That rock thing is awesome! I want to start doing that with my kids. They love finding ‘treasures’ on our walks. Many times we let go of our treasures so that other kids can find them. but to leave treasures like that would be so amazing!

    Also side note glad you have the tip on how to remove the lables. I keep my jars because as expats we dont have a lot of kitchen containers so I make use of every jar. Many towards my kids lego collection. Unfortunately many have the labels so I will try that trick! x

  11. Bekka says:

    Aubrey this is such a sweet idea. I love the thought of writing notes in books that I love, and the rock idea is so cool!

  12. Katie says:

    Can I say how in love I am with these ideas? You are so inspiring! I will definitely make time for more acts of kindness. ( I especially love the messages on the rock and library notes.)

    xx Katie


  13. Sarah The Happiness Advocate says:

    You can also post the jars on Freecycle if you have that near you. I find that people will take jars from that instead of my recycling them. I also post empty egg cartons on Freecycle.

  14. Heather Harmon says:

    This post really shows what a generous soul you have! I love all these ideas and I think I will do some of them myself! I’ve been wanting to crochet some blankets and hats to donate to hospitals, but I never thought of doing the same thing for animals! I’m going to quit wanting to do it and actually get it done! Thank you for inspiring me yet again :)

  15. Rebecca @ Highs and Humdrum says:

    Great post, I would love to find a message like that in a book.
    I went to the beach a earlier in the summer with a few friends and we spent a while decorating stones on the beach which we then went and distributed along the beach and pier for people to find: http://instagram.com/p/Zxzgyxr5hi/

  16. Pingback: Links and Love

  17. dolores says:


  18. Dee says:

    What a great list! I think it’s wonderful that you want to help strangers. My teacher once gave us a project like this called Random Acts of Kindness and I really enjoyed it, it felt good!

  19. C.j. says:

    I once found an Ad type flyer that said on it STRENGT. if you need some take some,with the tear off strips on the bottom where normally they would be phone numbers. Of course they said Strength on them. I took one, it made me smile whenever I came across it.

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