Patience Salgado

Photo: Meghan McSweeney

Patience Salgado, master of the small act of generosity, is making the world a friendlier place.

On her popular Kindness Girl blog (, Richmond, Virginia, mom Patience Salgado catalogs her good deeds—and encourages others to carry out their own. She places $5 Starbucks gift cards on bus stop benches, spends the first day of school writing chalk messages on campus sidewalks ("Don't be shy, we're all new friends!"), and has even staged a free cotton candy drive-through. The effect can be staggering: "People just melt," Salgado says.

But her work isn't all sweetness and cheerful slogans. In 2010, when a hate group announced plans to picket local Jewish and LGBT organizations, Salgado helped found Pennies in Protest, urging residents to donate to the organizations being targeted. In one week, they raised nearly $14,000. (She also sent the hate group a note to thank them for inspiring such generosity.)

Salgado first learned kindness as a child—"We delivered meals, we visited hospitals; that was just who my parents were," she says—and now she's passing it on to her own four kids. Their favorite guerrilla goodness mission is an update of the old "ding-dong ditch" prank. Instead of ringing a stranger's doorbell and running away, Salgado and her brood leave a gift before they flee the scene. Often it's flowers—though, says Salgado, "we've left actual Ding Dongs, too."

Try one of Salgado's stealth-kindness missions
red flower in pot

Photo: Getty Images

Tie a message—"It's going to be okay!" is a favorite of Salgado's—to a flower, and leave it in a public place. (Or, as Salgado did one Halloween, swap the flowers for pumpkins.)
boy run balloons

Photo: Getty Images

Get your kids involved: Invite them to give balloons to other children at your local playground, or to leave sweet notes in popular library books before returning them.
coin jar

Next time you let a four-letter word fly, donate to Salgado's online communal swear jar ( All proceeds are donated to charity
triple ice cream cone

During back-to-school season, leave a gift certificate for an ice cream cone in the pocket of new backpacks at a department store.

Next: 35 simple ways to make someone's day

From the October 2011 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.